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January 2006

Conservation Connection January 2006

Conservation Connection - February 2006
NOTE: All links have been removed from this archived newsletter. For more information on any topics mentioned, please use our website Search bar above.

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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 to see

Old forests house thousands of species, some hard to see


 




 

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.

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 in the Purcells.

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


 


 


 


 

 

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

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 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

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.

 

 

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