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Solutions-focused forum for wildlife

Posted by bchristensen at Dec 13, 2012 01:20 PM |

The week after Thanksgiving, Jay headed out from his office in Omak, destined for Cle Elum and a gathering of conservationists. There was maybe more Carhartt than REI and more dirt under the nails than in the hiking boots than what you might expect from a “gathering of conservationists.” But these people were no less focused on preserving the land, wildlife, and natural heritage of Washington than a green drinks meetup here in Bellingham.

Solutions-focused forum for wildlife

A meeting of Conservation Districts welcomed Jay and others for a discussion on how ranches may coexist with wolves and other predators. Photo: Fladry fencing is one tool that has shown some success (shown here with coyote). Herd supervision is another.

The week after Thanksgiving, Jay headed out from his office in Omak destined for Cle Elum and a gathering of conservationists.

There was maybe more Carhartt than REI and more dirt under the nails than in the hiking boots than what you might expect from a “gathering of conservationists,” but they were no less focused on preserving the land, wildlife, and natural heritage of Washington than a green drinks meetup in Bellingham. He had been invited to speak at the annual meeting of the Washington Association of Conservation Districts* (WACD), to speak on a panel focused on wolves.

Jay opened the panel with a great story of his dad’s connection to conservation districts after WWII, and then went on to introduce the successful range riding pilot near the Smackout Pack that WA Department of Fish and Wildlife and Conservation Northwest co-sponsored this year. Steve Pozzanghera, the state’s wolf policy lead, then gave an update on Washington’s numerous wolf packs and our state’s science-based wolf plan. Seth Wilson detailed how a unique Montana community cooperative—the Blackfoot Challenge—has helped ranchers coexist with wildlife and preserve habitat, including predators. Finally, John Dawson, a rancher from Stevens County, spoke of his experience with using a range rider. He detailed how regular herd supervision and other non-lethal tools appear to have helped avoid conflict with wolves this year.

Jay was encouraged by this engaging session. There were great questions from the crowd and a chance to connect with those interested in learning more about non-lethal techniques. And the Conservation District staff were open and eager to help their clients—Washington’s landowners—succeed in a changing world, with tangible solutions and assistance. Dave Vogel, the Executive Director of the Association said, “I am pleased that WACD was able to bring people together to look at solution-oriented options for how conservation districts can respond to landowner and operator needs for assistance.” We are, too!

Right now we’re planning next year’s opportunities for gathering together all kinds of conservationists to find solutions for living with wildlife. Hope to see you there.

[How wolves and livestock share a landscape] [What Washington can learn about wolves]

 

*Conservation what?

Given our name, Conservation Northwest is sometimes confused with Conservation Districts. While we may come at conservation from another angle, there is much we have in common with the districts and the people they serve--landowners looking to conserve their way of life, their land, and the wildlife on it.

Conservation Districts are state government entities tasked with helping landowners who wish to voluntarily preserve and use wisely the natural resources on their lands. The locally-governed district offices offer technical and financial assistance for voluntary landowner projects like establishing riparian buffers, restoring wetlands, and altering operations to protect habitat. If you’ve ever driven by a field out in farm country that is surrounded by those little blue tree tubes with saplings tucked safely inside, you’ve probably seen their help at work on the ground. Many districts also offer education programs for local schools and kids’ groups. What great partners for Washington’s communities! More from Read the Dirt

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