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April 2008

Conservation Connection April 2008

NOTE: All links have been removed from this archived newsletter. For more information on any topics mentioned, please use our website Search bar above.


In this issue:

  • Lynx habitat
  • Volunteer love
  • Mud bogging
  • Hazel Wolf Film Festival

Canada lynx with snowshoe hare

To live, lynx need older trees and open forest habitat.
Photo: Tom and Pat Leeson


The Rarest Cat Needs Your Voice

Canada lynx in Washington are still losing ground, literally, that is: lynx habitat. Fortunately, the US Fish and Wildlife Service has recently released a habitat plan for lynx recovery. A federal judge determined that an earlier version was politically tainted and required revision. Unfortunately, the new plan doesn't go as far as this great cat needs. Particularly important in northeastern Washington State are lands in the Columbia Highlands in the Kettle River Range (including the Wedge) and Selkirk Mountains (Little Pend Oreille and Salmo-Priest).

You can make a difference. The agency is now accepting comments on its revised habitat plan for recovery of Canada lynx. Please send a comment by April 28, 2008. Critical habitat designation does not prevent management activities, such as logging, from taking place in lynx habitat–but it does require that a biologist be at the table when land-use decisions are being made. And that, we think, is a simple and sensible step for recovery of the rarest of the three wild cat species remaining in our state.

Volunteers pull scotchbroom on native prairie in southwestern Washington

Removing invasive plants from the prairie is sweaty but satisfying work, and the butterflies don't mind either!
Photo: Jen Watkins

Volunteers Restore Prairies, and More

People who contribute their time and energy are meaningful to the work we do. In March, Conservation Northwest staff and volunteers joined the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife to restore critical prairie habitat in the Scatter Creek Wildlife Area, 20 miles south of Olympia, pulling scotch broom from a piece of prairie that now represents one of the rarest habitat types in our state. Today scarcely 3 percent remains of the original prairie once found throughout Washington. These remnant oak-woodland prairies contain unique assemblages of native plants, including blue camas, water howellia, and Oregon white oak. They are also home to wildlife specially adapted to the prairies, such as the endangered mardon skipper butterfly, streaked horned lark, and Mazama pocket gopher.

Wenatchee meadow destroyed by vehicles

Orr Creek Meadow, trashed by off-road vehicles.
Photo: Dept. Fish and Wildlife


Making Meadows into Mudholes

As the Wenatchee World reporter put it, "One night of destructive fun has altered the course of nature in a peaceful meadow." Local wildlife officers called it "the most egregious act of nature destruction" they've ever seen by off-road vehicles. That's bad press for a movement whose members claim to be responsible users of the land. Vehicles and their riders opened up underground springs that feed Orr Creek in the Stemilt Basin, rerouting the creek and damaging irrigation culverts and intakes used by the local reclamation district to supply water to Wenatchee orchards.

Because of their power and speed, off-road vehicles can be wildly destructive to natural areas if their owners ride off-trail. When surveyed, 50 percent of dirt bikers and ATV riders say they prefer to ride off established trails. Off-road use has been steadily on the rise in Okanogan and Ferry counties in eastern Washington, and the worries of local residents go well beyond sound pollution–to the wear and tear on public roads, spread of noxious weeds, and safety of children and of other trail users.


prescribed fire on the Colville National Forest

Prescribed fire applied in the Colville National Forest. Learn more at Fighting Fire with Fire, one of the many fine films this year at the Hazel Wolf Film Fest.
Photo: US Forest Service

Hazel-Green Film Fest

If you love nature and you love film, you’ll love the Hazel Wolf Environmental Film Festival, May 1-4, 2008, at the University of Washington in Seattle. This popular event features 50 films and shorts, interesting speakers, and filmmaking workshops. Conservation Northwest is proud to cosponsor this year's fest. We're proud too, to note our historic connection with two of the driving influences, people we know well: Dave Atcheson, former director of Biodiversity Northwest and our coalition effort The Cascades Conservation Partnership, and Demis Foster, also formerly of The Partnership as well as the Ancient Forest Roadshow.



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