Investing in wildlife
To help link the Cascades to the Rockies, we are raising private capital and leveraging public funds to protect two key Columbia Highlands properties and contribute to lynx and wolf recovery.
Connecting Cascades to Rockies
Conservation Northwest protects vital wildlife habitat from development on both public and private land to keep a network of habitat connected between the Cascades and Rocky Mountains.
In late December 2013, Conservation Northwest completed its capital campaign in the Columbia Highlands Initiative, including the final phase of on-the-ground habitat protection on 1,024 acres of working ranchlands containing habitat key to the Cascades to Rockies habitat corridor. The easements helped two ranching families fulfill their dream of committing their land to agriculture, open space, and wildlife habitat.
Thank you for connecting and protecting habitat for lynx and other wildlife!
Protecting ranches - recovering wildlife
All over the West, America is losing its ranches and working farms to global price competition and real estate development. Keeping the ranches that are the most valuable to wildlife in open space is important not just to the future of wide-ranging species like lynx and wolves, but also for the seasonal movements of deer and elk that often winter on private lands. Safeguarding ranchlands through conservation easements also helps sustain the local agriculture economy and rural western heritage.
In the Columbia Highlands, Conservation Northwest is raising private capital and leveraging public funds to keep several ranches from falling to mining and/or development, including the Dawson and Gotham properties.
The Gotham Ranch
Bryan and Deb Gotham own a 2,200-acre ranch and tree farm in the western foothills of the Kettle River Range, east of Republic. Scientific modeling shows this landscape to be critical to wildlife movement between the Cascades and Rockies. Lynx and wolverine have been reported in the area, and the Gotham Ranch provides habitat for mule and whitetail deer, black bears, cougars, and many species of owls and birds. While the Gotham’s dream is to preserve the ranch intact, business realities forced them to consider mineral and real estate options.
In late 2011, Conservation Northwest purchased a conservation easement on 303 acres of the Gotham property. This transaction permanently dedicates these acres to open space, agriculture, and wildlife habitat. It will forever prevent residential development and extraction of minerals from a vein that underlies the property. The easement was purchased entirely with private dollars raised by Conservation Northwest, and has since been re-assigned to the Okanogan Land Trust.
In January 2013 we’re putting an additional 104 acres under easement, while extending an option for 97 more acres through 2013 as leverage toward the federal Forest Legacy Program which could protect a total of 2,200 acres. Please donate to help preserve this important land.
Conservation Northwest and Okanogan Land Trust are also partnering with the Gothams on an application to the Forest Legacy Program administered by the state Dept. of Natural Resources. If successful, this program would put the balance of the Gotham’s 2,200 property under conservation easement.
The Gothams are superlative stewards and publicly support designation of the proposed San Poil Wilderness Area, where they lease grazing rights. Bryan and Deb, along with the company that purchases and markets their beef, Ameristar Meats, have stated that wilderness not only wouldn’t harm their operation, but is actually a marketing opportunity to increase their profit for appealing to environmentally conscious consumers.
The Dawson Ranch
John and Melva Dawson own 504 acres north of Colville and lease substantial additional pasture in the proposed Abercrombie-Hooknose Wilderness Area, which is within the territory of the Smackout wolf pack.
When the Dawsons found themselves having to consider breaking up their family ranch for financial reasons, Conservation Northwest helped them to instead retire their debt by selling a conservation easement. That easement was finalized in August 2011 and is held by the Inland Northwest Land Trust, which purchased it using funds raised by Conservation Northwest and partially matched by the Farm and Ranch Protection Program, administered by the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service. Thank you to our generous donors!
Raising capital to invest in conservation
To protect working ranches like the Gotham’s and Dawson’s for perpetuity, Conservation Northwest seeks to raise $1.4 million. With about $1.2 million already raised, we are in the final stretch. Your donation will help us secure another piece of the Cascades to Rockies connection for wildlife! Learn more about our Capital Campaign in Mitch's latest letter (PDF) or contact Paul Bannick for more information, 206.675.9747 x202. Thank you!