Conservation Connection January 2006
Conservation Connection - February 2006
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In this issue:
- Old-growth victory
- Snoqualmie expansion?
- Quiet for caribou
- Citizens for wilderness
- Methow Valley in the news
- New faces
- Sprawl initiative for Washington?
Old forests house thousands of species, some hard
Old-Growth Victory: Look Before You Leap
In a wonderful new year's victory for old-growth wildlife,
federal foresters must once again "look before logging" to
protect rare plants, animals, lichens, fungi, and other ecologically important
species. Conservation Northwest and allies challenged the Bush administration's
attempt to eliminate protections for wildlife that live in old-growth forests on
federal lands in the Pacific Northwest, and in August won our case with big help
from Oregon Natural Resource Council and skillful representation by attorneys from
Western Environmental Law Center and Pacific Environmental Advocacy
Center. In December the federal judge temporarily halted 144 timber sales that
could fatally injure these rare plants and animals.
More than 85 percent of the old forests that once blanketed our region have been
lost to logging and other development. When logging is proposed in old-growth forests,
the so-called "survey and manage" provision requires biologists to locate and protect
sites where rare plants and animals live. Restoration projects in young plantations
established after clearcut logging generally do not require such detailed reviews.
National forests that concentrate on restoring plantations, such as the Gifford Pinchot,
Olympic, and Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie, will not feel the effects of this ruling as much as
will federal forests in southern Oregon that continue to target old growth for liquidation.
This is a victory for all Americans who value wildlife and the old-growth forests of
the Pacific Northwest.
Forest Service considers Snoqualmie ski area expansion.
Snoqualmie: Go Easy on the Wildlife
The Forest Service in December released a new master plan for the four
ski areas at Snoqualmie Pass in the Central Cascades. The ten-year plan
would rearrange and add lifts and runs and expand the special use permit
into another 53 acres at Hyak Creek, increasing total ski area capacity
by 39 percent. Although many aspects of the proposal are uncontroversial,
expansion when it harms old growth and wildlife is unacceptable. The proposed
expansion involves cutting old growth, degrading a key wildlife corridor,
and expanding lift facilities into a roadless area next to the Alpine
Lakes Wilderness Area.
"The public has invested millions of dollars and decades protecting and
connecting wildlife habitat along I-90," says Jasmine Minbashian, communications
director with Conservation Northwest. "It just defies common sense that
the Forest Service would approve a project that destroys some of the best
old-growth forest and wildlife habitat left in the area. The proposal would cut
up Hyak Creek by logging old-growth forest and building two new ski lifts,
several new runs, and a new road. Only Alternative 4 eliminates those impacts."
Conservation Northwest supports improved winter recreation at the Pass,
but not when it spells loss of old-growth forests, wildlife corridors,
and roadless areas. The best alternative will be one that combines the
least impact actions of Alternatives 3 & 4, while halting all expansion
into old-growth forests and roadless areas. Please go to our action
center to submit comments. Your voice is needed!
Mountain caribou at Kootenay Pass.
Photo: Roland Usher
Caribou Have a Quiet New Year
Last month not only were barren-ground caribou of the far north protected
from drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, but the mountain
caribou of the Inland Temperate Rainforest were also given a reprieve
– from snowmobiles. Conservation groups represented by Advocates
for the West out of Boise, Idaho, and including Conservation Northwest,
Selkirk Conservation Alliance, and The Lands Council, argued that snowmobiles,
which wildlife biologists call a major threat to caribou survival,
have no place in critical caribou habitat. A federal judge in Spokane,
Washington, agreed and temporarily halted the grooming of snowmobile
trails in the recovery zone in north Idaho.
Mountain caribou are a subset of woodland caribou, the most endangered
large mammal in North America. Only 30 mountain caribou remain in the
US, 1,600 animals live northward into British Columbia. "These animals
and their Inland Rainforest home are a heritage we should be proud to
protect for future generations," says Joe Scott, international conservation
director with Conservation Northwest. "The least we can do is give
caribou a little space."
Citizens for Eastern Washington Wilderness
Citizens for Eastern Washington Wilderness
What do you do when you care deeply about the wild and beautiful country
in your own backyard? Citizens for Eastern Washington Wilderness formed
last year to help protect remote and wild public lands in the Columbia Highlands.
We are working with this group as part of our Columbia Highlands Initiative, meeting
a few times each year to talk together and coordinate organizing efforts
among member organizations working on wilderness, roadless, recreation,
and other forest issues in eastern Washington.
Needless to say, the Citizens also like to get out and hike. They occasionally
coordinate trail maintenance and restoration outings in forests, and sponsor
events that showcase the wealth of eastern Washington natural areas.
One of the most active Wild Washington Campaign satellite working groups
in the state, Citizens for Eastern Washington Wilderness includes members,
volunteers, and staff from Conservation Northwest, The Lands Council,
Spokane Mountaineers, Upper Columbia River Group of the Sierra Club, Backcountry
Horsemen of Washington, Hunting & Fishing Conservation Coalition,
and many more.
A new transmission line would destroy shrub-steppe lands
in the Methow
Why Two, When One Will Do?
We let you know last March about a new powerline proposed for the Methow
Valley, carving into the heart of fragrant shrub-steppe uplands, home
to mule deer, golden eagles, western gray squirrels, and sharp-tailed
grouse. Many of you sent comments urging a better alternative, one that
calls for an upgrade of the existing Loup-Loup Pass transmission line
instead of a new line. The upgrade would yield ample, reliable power and
save $10 million in construction; best protecting the Methow Valley’s
lands, people, and economy.
The Okanogan Public Utilities District has released the Final Environmental
Impact Statement for the plan and appears to be leaning toward building
a new line. There is still time to voice your support to keep the Methow
wild and open. The Okanogan County must approve a new line and council
members aren’t all agreed. Please write a letter to the editor today
to let your neighbors know just what is at stake.
New Seattle office manager, Andrea Cuccaro
New Faces at Conservation Northwest
This year we wish a fond farewell to Seattle outreach assistant and office
manager Molly Harmon, who left for cooking school in Boulder, CO, this
month. After reviewing over 70 applicants for this position, we welcome
Andrea Cuccaro, who brings several years of forest advocacy
and organizing to our team.
Regan Smith leaves us this year and we wish her the
best as she pursues a master's degree at the UW. An unbeatable ambassador
for restoration, Regan brought together diverse stakeholders to protect
old growth and promote sustainable forestry on the Gifford Pinchot National
Forest. We are lucky now to have Derek Churchill to foster
Regan’s legacy on the Gifford Pinchot. As our new staff forester,
he will also work to promote good forest projects on the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie
and Olympic National Forests.
Our delightful Jen Watkins, no stranger to us through
her work coordinating the I-90 Wildlife Bridges Coalition and who long
worked as part of The Cascades Conservation Partnership outreach team,
continues Central Cascades connectivity work, covering forest issues
in the Wenatchee National Forest. Welcome Andrea, Derek, and Jen!
Whatcom County farmlands near Sumas.
Photo: Tore Ofteness
Sprawl Initiative Coming to Washington
What's so special about living in Washington? Is it the verdant
forests, clean water, and big landscapes--or the strip malls, congested
traffic, and plethora of concrete parking lots? The latter is what some
seem to think who are pushing an initiative in 2006 to ramp up development
and sprawl at the expense of the quality of life we enjoy. Washington
voters soundly rejected a similar initiative, Referendum 48, back in 1995.
Oregon wasn't so lucky. Backed by timber companies and developers,
Oregon's Measure 37 was approved in 2004. The developers’
initiative (a.k.a "takings" initiative) planned for Washington
will be worded differently from Measure 37, but the intent is the same
- creating a loophole for developers who don't want to be
slowed down by neighborhood or community concerns. To get engaged
or learn more, contact Dan
Stonington with the Community Protection Coalition.