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July 2010

Conservation Connection July 2010

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In this issue:

  • Safeguarding WA frontier
  • Burke Museum exhibit
  • Hikers explore Highlands
  • Methow power play

Gotham ranch

We are partnering with the Gotham family ranch to protect valuable wildlife habitat in the Columbia Highlands.
Photo: Paul Bannick

Safeguarding Washington's Last Frontier

Last week, we submitted an application to the federal Forest Legacy Program on behalf of Ferry County ranchers Bryan and Debra Gotham, in hopes of securing funds to keep the Gotham's 2,200 acre ranch and tree farm safe from development indefinitely.

As part of our Columbia Highlands Initiative, we're working with timber interests, cattle producers, recreationists, and others to maintain healthy forests and wildlife habitat in northeast Washington. "We're proud to partner with good stewards like the Gothams," said staffer Tim Coleman. Bryan Gotham lauded the effort, "When the property around us starts growing houses instead of grass and trees, that hurts our ranch, other local ranchers, and the wildlife, This partnership is helping us keep the land the way it was in our grandfather's time."

White-tailed ptarmigan

Visit the Burke Museum on August 14 for stunning nature photography and workshops.
Photo: Paul Bannick

Burke Museum Features Conservation Photographers

This summer, Seattle's Burke Museum is featuring inspiring photographs sure to delight. As a Conservation Northwest supporter, you can enjoy the International Conservation Photography Awards exhibit with this 20% off coupon. On Saturday, August 14th, the museum presents a day dedicated to the art and craft of photography, with workshops on the latest techniques led by well-known nature photographers Paul Bannick, John Greengo, and Mark Turner.



Hikers in the Columbia Highlands

Hikers sign letters to support Columbia Highlands Wilderness.
Photo: Leif Jakobsen





Hikers Explore the Columbia Highlands

Over 170 people of all ages (and some intrepid pooches) have joined Conservation Northwest hikes this summer highlighting several of the most pristine and threatened wild areas in northeastern Washington.

Along the way, hikers learned the best way to ensure that these areas remain safe and unchanged for future generations and wildlife is to protect them under the Wilderness Act. Thanks to help from enthusiastic volunteer hike leaders, participants wrote letters to Senator Cantwell and Rep. McMorris Rodgers from the trail to protect the very area they were hiking in, and you can too!

Take five minutes today to write short, personal letters to Senator Maria Cantwell and Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers urging them to introduce a bill as soon as possible that will permanently protect roadless areas in the Columbia Highlands as wilderness. A hand-written or typed personal letter is worth 2,000 emails and is exactly what leadership–and these wild areas–need from you now.

For some inspiration, visit Columbia Highlands Wilderness' Facebook page to see some great hike photos.



Mule Deer

The Okanogan's PUD's proposed power line would cut through habitat in the Methow Valley that is valuable for mule deer and other wildlife species.
Photo: Alan Bauer








Power Play Over Methow Wildlands

In a rousing match of political tennis, the possibility of a new Okanogan PUD powerline across pristine, unroaded state trust land has become a constitutional issue. The proposed powerline and miles of new roads would cut directly through the largest block of shrub-steppe habitat in the Methow Valley and degrade crucial winter habitat used by mule deer-an important food source for many animals, including the local wolves.

The Commissioner of Public Lands, Peter Goldmark, was making a good faith effort to address an easement request when the Okanogan PUD unilaterally filed a lawsuit to take possession of state property. Citing concerns about costs to the state for managing the sprawling network of new roads, and increased risks of invasive species and wildfire, Commissioner Goldmark wants to continue to fight the PUD's power grab. However, despite having backed the Commissioner in a lower court case, state Attorney General Rob McKenna refused to represent the state in an appeal. Until this gets resolved, we've appealed the lower court's ruling as a "placeholder" for DNR.

The appeal of the lower court's decision on whether the PUD can condemn state trust lands will not likely move forward until the Supreme Court addresses the constitutional issues later this year.

Science director Dave Werntz said "Commissioner Goldmark has legitimate and unresolved concerns about Okanogan PUD's powerline, and we support his efforts to preserve wildlife habitat and lower the cost for Washington citizens."




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