Western Environmental Law Center

Since 1993, Western Environmental Law Center has used the power of the law to defend and protect the American West’s treasured landscapes, iconic wildlife, and rural communities. We combine our legal skills with sound conservation biology to strategically address major environmental issues. From our offices in Oregon, New Mexico, Colorado, and Montana we are dedicated to preserving the unique and rugged beauty of the West.

Western Environmental Law Center was a Brainerd Foundation grantee from 2001 to 2013.

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Western Environmental Law Center Photo gallery

Photo courtesy of Western Environmental Law Center.

WELC is working with partners in Montana and Idaho to ensure renewable energy transmission is done wisely. Photo courtesy of Western Environmental Law Center.

WELC works to protect critical pathways for wildlife in a warming world. Photo courtesy of Western Environmental Law Center.

Western Environmental Law Center Grant history

2013

$40,000 - To protect wildlife connectivity and critical habitat across the West. Place-based conservation

2012

$40,000 - To protect wildlife connectivity and critical habitat in the High Divide and Crown of the Continent ecosystems. Place-based conservation

2010

$150,000 - A two-year grant to support efforts in the Northern Rockies to protect the region's natural resources from increasing development pressures. Place-based conservation

2010

$3,000 - To plan and analyze where renewable energy development and transmission occurs in order to minimize environmental impacts. Opportunity fund

2009

$20,000 - To support implementation of an organizational communications plan. Conservation capacity

2008

$140,000 - A two-year grant to support a new Northern Rockies office in protecting the region's critical ecosystems from unwise development. Conservation capacity

2007

$25,000 - For general support to provide legal services to conservation advocates throughout Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana. Conservation capacity

2006

$15,000 - To defend the Northwest Forest Plan and bedrock federal environmental laws and regulations affecting the management of federal forests in the Pacific Northwest and to assist local conservation groups in upholding these laws and policies which protect critical ecosystems in the region. Place-based conservation

2005

$25,000 - To upgrade the organization's technology capacity. Place-based conservation

2005

$20,000 - To defend the Northwest Forest Plan and bedrock federal environmental laws and regulations affecting the management of federal forests in the Pacific Northwest. Place-based conservation

2004

$2,000 - To instruct environmentalists in negotiation techniques by providing a training session led by TREC's Jim Thomas March 12-14. Opportunity fund

2004

$30,000 - To defend the Northwest Forest Plan and bedrock federal environmental laws and regulations affecting the management of federal forests in the Pacific Northwest. Place-based conservation

2003

$32,500 - To defend the Northwest Forest Plan and other bedrock federal environmental laws and regulations affecting the management of federal forests in the Pacific Northwest; and to upgrade WELC's technology infrastructure and staff technical skills. Place-based conservation

2001

$20,000 - To implement the capacity building objectives of the organization's newly developed five-year strategic plan. Conservation capacity

Western Environmental Law Center Successes

Montana court closes loophole, preventing unrestrained development

In October 2014, a Montana district judge closed a Montana regulatory loophole that allowed developers to drill as many wells as they wanted to provide water to subdivisions, encouraging ill-planned developments and growth in rural areas. The judge's decision will help keep development in check on landscapes that are valuable for wildlife habitat and connectivity. The Brainerd Foundation supported Western Environmental Law Center on this challenge to state water well permit rules.