Our Work

Back on the road to recovery


The Mexican gray wolf has taken a big step back into the region. A recent legal settlement has buoyed efforts to recover the endangered animal, and the wolf will soon have freer range over the Arizona, New Mexico and possibly Colorado backcountry.

Once indigenous to the local region, wolves were almost completely eradicated from the American West by the 1950s. The animals were eliminated largely for the benefit of the livestock industry, and most ranchers and farmers remain strongly opposed to the idea of returning the canids to the region.

Protecting Public Access to Fishing Streams in Montana

Mitchell Slough, a branch of the Bitterroot River in western Montana, is a vibrant fishery popular with locals. About 10 years ago, a group of wealthy private landowners, including Charles Schwab and former rock star Huey Lewis, began plotting ways to keep locals away from the stream, which runs behind their properties. (In Montana, all natural water bodies are open to the public, so long as the water is accessible without trespass over private property.)

Keeping the Northern Rockies Connected (press release)

The Western Environmental Law Center has successfully preserved what is, according to expert biologists, one of the best remaining places for critical wildlife movement along the entire Continental Divide.

"We will continue to protect this critical linkage in the Northern Rockies for wildlife that is threatened by resource extraction, sprawl, energy development and energy transmission lines" says Greg Costello, Executive Director of WELC.

Grazing Decisions: Ensuring Public Participation

Pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act, the U.S. Forest Service’s decisions concerning the use and management of National Forest lands  – a public resource – must be submitted for public review and comment. In this case, the U.S. Forest Service has foregone this important requirement when it comes to issuing new 10 year grazing permits in the Helena National Forest.

Reducing Risk of Climate Change from BLM actions

The threat of global warming and climate change presents us with a defining moment. We believe that the federal stewards of our public lands – the U.S. Bureau of Land Management – are part of this defining moment. We’ve taken action to ensure that BLM addresses the significant emissions of greenhouse gases from oil and gas leasing and development, reduces these emissions by implementing proven, cost-effective measures, and ensures the resiliency our wildlands in the face of climate change impacts.

Conservationists Defend Wildlife and Natural Solitude in the Lewis and Clark National Forest (press release)

WELC assists the Montana Wilderness Association in a lawsuit to defend the U.S. Forest Service’s travel plan for Lewis and Clark National Forest

The Montana Wilderness Association (“MWA”) filed to intervene in a lawsuit to defend the U.S. Forest Service’s travel management plan for the Little Belt, Castle, and north half of the Crazy Mountains in the Lewis and Clark National Forest. Matt Bishop of the Western Environmental Law Center is representing MWA in this matter.

Protecting California Red-Legged Frog From Motor Vehicle Impacts

In 2008, the Eldorado National Forest in Northern California issued a plan designating motor vehicle use on the Forest. This plan relies upon inadequate NEPA analysis and violates the Endangered Species Act by allowing motorized route crossings in protected meadows and riparian areas, home to the California Red-legged frog (Rana aurora draytoii), protected under the ESA.

Second Suit In 2 Days Targets Wolf Program


LAS CRUCES -- For the second time in two days, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's management of the Mexican gray wolf recovery program was targeted by a federal lawsuit filed by conservation groups.

Eleven conservation groups filed a lawsuit in Tucson on Thursday, seeking a court order to overturn the recovery program's management by an interagency oversight committee.

U.S. Wildlife Officials Failing to Conserve Mexican Wolf (press release 4.30.08)

11 Conservation Groups Intervening to Ensure Wolf Recovery Is Agency’s Priority

With only 52 Mexican gray wolves left in the wild, a number of conservation organizations are asking an Arizona federal court to direct the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to take back their leadership responsibilities for the  Mexican wolf reintroduction effort and make wolf conservation a priority.

Drilling the Climate (press release)

Colorado Oil and Gas Auction to Fuel Global Warming, BLM Ignoring its Responsibility to Protect Colorado’s Climate

A coalition of local, regional, and national citizens groups today challenged the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s decision to open up more than 174,000 acres of Colorado to oil and gas drilling without taking action to protect Colorado’s climate. Despite the growing dangers of climate change to Colorado, the agency is ignoring the natural gas industry’s global warming pollution as it feverishly promotes a runaway drilling boom.

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