FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Conservation Northwest Partners with Ranchers on Forest Legacy Project
In northeast Washington's Columbia Highlands, working ranches, small timber operations, and farms are not only the lifeblood of the community, they are vital to wildlife. Conservation Northwest has submitted an application to the Forest Legacy Program on behalf of Ferry County ranchers Bryan and Debra Gotham to keep their land as a working ranch and tree farm indefinitely.
Today Conservation Northwest submitted an application to the Forest Legacy Program on behalf of Ferry County ranchers, Bryan and Debra Gotham, in hopes of winning a federal grant that will keep the Gotham property as a working ranch and tree farm indefinitely.
Forest Legacy is a federal grant program to protect forestlands from conversion to non-forest uses. In Washington, the program is guided by the USDA Forest Service and carried out through the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
The Gothams live near Colville and own 2,200 acres in Ferry County, on the north side of Highway 20 between Republic and the Colville National Forest. The core of the property has been in the family for half a century. The Gothams manage it for timber and cattle production, wildlife and water stewardship, and public access for hunting and other non-motorized recreation. The Gothams also graze their cattle on part of the Colville National Forest between the Colville Indian Reservation and Highway 20, a 70,000 acre tract known as the Quartz Grazing Allotment that adjoins their ranch.
“When the property around us starts growing houses instead of grass and trees, that hurts our ranch, other local ranchers, and the wildlife,” said Ferry County ranchers Bryan and Deb Gotham. “This partnership is helping us keep the land the way it was in our grandfather’s time, with a quiet backcountry that we can access by horse and a means to keep our ranch economically viable so we can pass it on intact to our kids when the time comes.”
Conservation Northwest is based in Bellingham, with local offices in Spokane and Republic. The group is collaborating with timber interests, cattlemen and others to maintain healthy forests and wildlife habitat. Together they aim to find a balance between conservation and resource production that offers natural heritage and prosperity for local communities. “We’re proud to partner with good stewards like the Gothams,” said Tim Coleman of Republic, Conservation Northwest’s Columbia Highlands Initiative Director. “Giving ranchers a way to survive the tough economy without selling to development helps all wildlife and people alike.”
Conservation Northwest funded contract work associated with the application, and has committed to raise private funds needed to match the prospective Forest Legacy grant.
The application is endorsed by American Farmland Trust; Okanogan Valley Land Council; Colville Confederated Tribes; WA Dept of Fish and Wildlife; Ferry County Conservation District; Ferry County Commissioners; Northeastern WA Forestry Coalition; Matt Hobbs, president of the Northeastern Chapter of Washington Farm Forestry Association; Spokane Mountaineers; Inland Empire Chapter of Mule Deer Foundation; Backcountry Hunters and Anglers; Spokane Trout Unlimited, Inland Northwest Wildlife Council; WA State Representative Shelly Short; Colville National Forest Supervisor; US Senator Patty Murray; State Senator Bob Morton; US Senator Maria Cantwell; US Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers.