Aerial view looking out across a vast series of mountains, a valley shrouded in fog, and a setting sun under an orange sky.
Allegheny Front Sunrise viewed from the Dolly Sods Wilderness area in West Virginia. © Kent Mason

Land & Water Stories

Big Wins in Land Conservation

Acre by acre, our supporters help make a difference for nature.

Across the globe, nature is declining at rates faster than ever before in history. The twin crises of climate change and biodiversity loss threaten all life on Earth, exacerbating the challenges humanity faces in caring for our natural world. As development damages critical habitat and species continue to disappear, it’s our community of supporters who make a true difference for nature.

Our supporters have helped build a long-standing legacy of land conservation for more than 70 years. As threats to nature continue to mount, The Nature Conservancy’s on-the-ground work protecting vital lands and waters is even more critical. Whether it’s using your voice for our planet, safeguarding the small parks in your neighborhood or protecting the wildlife in your backyard—members like you are at the heart of our mission.

Places You Helped Protect

Tackling our planet’s immense challenges happens one acre, one policy win, one day at a time. Here are several notable land conservation successes from this year that would not be possible without member support.

Giant, sweeping, golden sand dunes rise from a grassy plain, with mountains in the background.
Great Sand Dunes National Park Thanks to our supporters, we transferred more than 9,000 acres of land to the National Park Service to create a connected landscape and give wildlife room to roam. © Erika Nortemann/TNC

Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve—Colorado

One of Colorado’s national parks just got a major boost. The Nature Conservancy transferred approximately 9,362 acres of land from our Medano-Zapata Ranch Preserve to the National Park Service (NPS), expanding Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve. The land transfer will allow NPS to manage the property as one connected landscape, giving wildlife room to roam.

Nestled in the San Luis Valley, the land boasts a variety of habitats, from flowering prairies to snow-capped mountains to the tallest sand dunes in North America. Elk and bison graze here, and majestic sandhill cranes and other migratory birds use the wetlands to rest and refuel. Since the late 1990s, The Nature Conservancy has been working collaboratively with NPS and other landowners to manage the landscape and plans to transfer an additional 3,192 acres of Medano-Zapata Ranch to expand the national park in the future.

Aerial view of a coastline in Hawaii, showing coral reefs, beach, and forested bluffs.
FROM MAUKA TO MAKAI By protecting more than 1,000 acres of contiguous land, we are securing important corridors for numerous plants and wildlife. © Michael Conner/TNC
Aerial view of a stretch of forested land extending to the sea in Hawaii.
High-priority lands These high-elevation native forests supply water for both people and wildlife and help reduce erosion that can damage coral reefs. © Michael Conner/TNC

Mākolelau Acquisition—Hawaii

The Nature Conservancy’s first land deal in Hawaii in 10 years is one to celebrate. In partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife, we secured more than 1,000 acres of contiguous land in the Mākolelau area of southeast Moloka‘i.

A high-priority area, the high-elevation native forests supply water for both people and wildlife and help reduce erosion that can damage coral reefs. The newly protected landscape connects other conservation areas from the summit of Moloka‘i to the sea, providing continuous corridors of habitat for endangered birds, the Hawaiian hoary bat and more than 50 native plant species. 

A bobolink, a small songbird with a black body and small yellow patch on the top of its head, perches in a leafy shrub.
PERCHING BOBOLINK © Ernie Mastroianni

Mukwonago River Watershed—Wisconsin

The Mukwonago River watershed is the most diverse and intact small river system in southern Wisconsin, home to nearly 60 species of fish, 15 species of mussels and several rare amphibians and reptiles. Encompassing 15 lakes and miles of streams, the surrounding area contains important nesting habitat for bobolinks, eastern meadowlarks and northern harriers.

The Nature Conservancy secured 170 acres of this key ecosystem, creating a vital connection between Lulu Lake and Pickerel Lake Fen State Natural Areas that will increase their climate resilience. Protecting more of this landscape and linking these two areas will also help reduce flooding while providing clean water for drinking, recreation and wildlife habitat.

Landscape view of a vast golden grassland with mountains in the far distance and puffy white clouds overhead.
WIDE OPEN SPACES Protecting these vital habitats is critical for ensuring the survival of Idaho's iconic wildlife. © Tracy Dean River Photography

Greater Yellowstone—Idaho

In the sagebrush steppe, open grasslands and riparian corridors just outside Yellowstone National Park, gray wolves and grizzly bears roam, peregrine falcons and bald eagles soar, and pronghorn gallop. The creeks and rivers are a critical spawning ground for Yellowstone cutthroat trout. It’s one of the most ecologically significant areas of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem of Idaho.

The Nature Conservancy and partners have been working for decades to conserve this stretch of vital habitat and just recently secured the 634-acre Henrys Lake area property. The area had been slated for subdivision and fragmentation, which would have been devastating for habitat and migration corridors. Protecting these lands and waters ensures the survival and resiliency of iconic wildlife in the area.

Aerial view of a dense green forest with a river cutting through it.
MILES OF MEANDERING RIVER With member support, we were able to safeguard thousands of acres of undeveloped land, providing important habitat for wildlife, along with clean water and recreation spaces for people. © Paul Nurnberg

Buckfield—South Carolina

The Buckfield tract in coastal South Carolina is an ecological treasure, with healthy longleaf pine forests and miles of river frontage that flow into the Coosawhatchie and Tulifinny Rivers. It’s an ideal habitat for the rare gopher tortoise, one of the oldest living species on the planet.

And now, thanks to a two-phase effort, The Nature Conservancy and the Open Space Institute have protected this 7,326-acre jewel. The acquisition creates a 12,000-acre “nature bridge” of undeveloped land that is vital for both people and wildlife. The property will be open for public recreation and provides clean, abundant water for communities nearby.

A Florida panther walks along a dirt path toward the camera.
Florida panther With the protection of Chaparral Slough, the endangered Florida panther has access to important natural wildlife corridors that it needs to thrive. © Carlton Ward Jr.
Aerial view of Chaparral Slough in Florida, a vast landscape with green forests and marsh areas.
Chaparral Slough This 6,859-acre wildlife corridor in southwest Florida provides a variety of habitats that support a wide array of species. © Carlton Ward Jr.

Chaparral Slough—Florida 

The Nature Conservancy and partners have ensured the protection of Chaparral Slough, a 6,859-acre wildlife corridor in southwest Florida. The landscape features a vast array of habitats including marsh, prairie, floodplain swamp and pine flatwoods that support an incredible amount of biodiversity.

Our latest landscape-scale conservation win, the protection of the 11-mile-long tract secures an important piece of a wildlife corridor vital for the endangered Florida panther and iconic species like Florida black bear, eastern indigo snake and gopher tortoise. Birds abound here, including the Florida sandhill crane, crested caracara, swallow-tailed kite, wood stork and white ibis. Acre by acre, we are connecting corridors of protected habitat for Florida panthers and other wildlife across the state.

Water rushes downstream and flows over a series of short rock waterfalls amid a dense, green forest.
Slate River Forest Reserve The clean waters of the reserve supply fresh water to surrounding communities. © Doug Pearsall/TNC
Forest floor-level view of a forest of tall, thin trees in autumn colors.
Hardwood forests The hemlocks, pines and quaking aspens of the Slate River Forest Reserve are part of lands that are among the most resilient to impacts of climate change. © TNC

Slate River Forest Reserve—Michigan

Piece by piece, The Nature Conservancy has been building a conservation corridor in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula for decades. Our latest acquisition is the Slate River Forest Reserve—10,500 acres of native hardwood forest rich with towering hemlocks, mature pines and quaking aspens.

This extraordinary project contains cascading streams and waterfalls that flow into Lake Superior, supplying fresh water to surrounding communities. Black bears, gray wolves and moose rely on large stretches of habitat to roam freely. It’s an idyllic corner of the Upper Peninsula, and science tells us this newly protected area is some of the most resilient land in all of Michigan, meaning it can sustain natural diversity in the face of a changing climate.

Aerial view of a river winding through land with tree-lined banks.
Kincannon Conservation Easement The acquisition of the Kincannon Conservation Easement brings our network of protected lands and waters in the watershed to more than 5,000 acres, including 16 miles of river corridor. © Ed Drew Photography

Kincannon Conservation Easement—Arkansas

The rivers and streams of the Ozarks host one of the greatest concentrations of aquatic species diversity in North America. It’s a high-priority conservation area, and The Nature Conservancy recently protected 250 acres through the Kincannon Conservation Easement along the upper Little Red River, home to the endemic and endangered yellow cheek darter and speckled pocketbook mussel. 

The acquisition brings our network of protected lands and waters in the watershed to more than 5,000 acres, including 16 miles of river corridor. The preserves are the platform for our work with partners, private landowners and local communities. Together, we’re focusing on protecting stream restoration, reforestation and unpaved roads that improve water quality in the downstream reservoir that provides drinking water for more than 250,000 people. 

It’s thanks to our community of supporters who have come together, time and again, to help conserve the land and waters on which all life depends.

With our natural world facing the dual crises of climate change and unprecedented biodiversity loss, your continued support is more urgent than ever. We must work harder and faster than ever before to continue to protect the lands and waters we all rely on. Together, we can find a way forward to create a better path for nature’s future.