2012: Gaining ground
2012 was a year of gaining ground for wildlife and landscapes from the Washington coast to the BC Rockies. We - and you - protected and restored habitat, recovered wildlife, and built partnerships to make a tangible difference across the region.
Protect the lands and wildlife
Protecting and restoring habitat (pdf)
Protecting habitat. We’ve made progress for wildlife and habitat, by advancing tens of thousands of acres of restoration projects on the Colville and Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forests and gaining approval for removing 27 miles of forest roads in the Methow Valley. This year we engaged 100 volunteers to restore habitat, planting 6,000 native plants just north of I-90’s Gold Creek wildlife underpass.
Dollars for forests. We helped attain a federal grant of $1 million for Colville National Forest jobs and forest restoration. We also raised funds for Chumstick Wildfire Stewardship Coalition road restoration near Leavenworth, and private funds to close and restore unused roads in the I-90 corridor. Our volunteers helped heal ORV abuse damage on the Colville National Forest.
See more of what we did this year, in the words of our staff.
Holding firm. Though grassroots organizing and determination, we won hard-fought preliminary votes from the Whatcom County Council and state to protect 8,000 acres of the Lake Whatcom watershed as a forest preserve park. By turning back another attempt to fund the Cross-Base Highway, we’re continuing to protect Puget Sound’s best remaining oak-woodland prairie.
Improving management. We improved the Forest Service’s proposed plans for 5 million acres of Washington’s national forests, including connected habitat, protected wildlife, and reduced roads. We also published a report detailing how ecological restoration thinning can bring timber jobs while protecting old growth and sensitive habitat. We reached agreement with the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest to protect spotted owl habitat. Our success with the Manastash watershed helped reduce aquatic impacts, while we improved Washington’s 9-million-acre Habitat Conservation Plan to recover endangered salmon and trout on 60,000 miles of streams and rivers.
Learn how else we've kept the Northwest wild in past years.
Ensuring a healthy future for wildlife
Grizzly bridges. We created the first grizzly bear sightings hotline in BC to increase awareness about the precarious status of southwest British Columbia and trans-boundary grizzlies. We engaged the St’at’imc First Nation on grizzly bear recovery in their traditional territory. We began a forest roads analysis to inform access management in grizzly habitat in the BC Cascades, a template for work in other ecosystems.
Wildlife monitoring. More than 90 volunteers monitored rare wildlife and looked for new wolf packs in the Cascades and Kettle Range. 2012 was one of our best seasons yet (VIDEO) and included documenting the first wolverine in decades south of Highway 2 in the Cascades. We also collected a year’s worth of animal sightings near Snoqualmie Pass as part of I-90 Wildlife Watch and collected data on pine martens as part of the Cascades Carnivore Connectivity Project.
Upholding laws. We resisted efforts by the timber industry to eliminate old-growth forest protections for marbled murrelets, and supported US Fish & Wildlife Service expansion of habitat protections for northern spotted owls.
Creative approaches. We created a Columbia Highlands wildlife guide to highlight the region’s rich wildlife and wild lands with sponsorships from numerous local businesses (available by early February). We helped Selkirk Mountain visitors avoid conflicts with grizzly bears by funding education by the US Forest Service.
Living with wolves
Leveraging inspiration. BBC and Discovery told their—and our—story of wolves returning in a stunning documentary staring our own Jasmine Minbashian that was seen by millions. We educated and inspired hundreds of people at Land of the Lost Wolves screenings and discussion panels across the state.
Finding solutions. We partnered with WA Department of Fish and Wildlife on a pilot summer range rider program to reduce conflict between wolves and cattle in northeastern Washington; the rancher involved lost no calves this season. We moved the state and members of the ranching community to publicly prioritize non-lethal strategies for avoiding conflicts between wolves and livestock, in response to the potentially avoidable loss of the Wedge Pack. To improve the outlook for wolves and ranches, we brought experts and states agencies together, listened to livestock owners, and learned from the places where it is working, including a field trip to Montana’s Blackfoot Challenge.
Defending laws. Successfully defended Washington’s wolf recovery plan from hostile state bills that would hurt wolf recovery and organized hundreds of citizens to push for the protections of Pacific Northwest wolves as a distinct population under the Endangered Species Act.
Purchasing land. By purchasing an easement for 101 more acres of the Gotham Ranch on the Kettle Crest, we connected vital private land habitat for wildlife such as Canada lynx between the Cascades and Rockies.
Wild Links. We brought together the region’s best wildlife conservation science, policy, and advocacy players at our 5th annual Wild Links conference. While there, we launched the Cascadia Partner Forum to understand transboundary connectivity, and a working group to protect carnivores in the US and BC Cascades.
Creating safe passage. Through the I-90 Wildlife Bridges Coalition, we established funding for Washington’s first wildlife overpass on I-90. We launched the Safe Passage on Highway 97 coalition to bring twin wildlife underpasses in a high traffic area in the Okanogan Valley. Working with national partners, we ensured that a 2-year highway reauthorization bill passed by Congress recognized the importance of wildlife connectivity.
Reporting and mapping. We recorded early success for wildlife crossings on I-90 in the form of a coyote using the new Gold Creek underpass. We hosted an I-90 corridor field tour during the Western Governor’s Association’s Annual Meeting. With the Wildlife Habitat Connectivity Working Group, we published a Columbia Basin connectivity analysis, a follow-up to last year’s Washington Landscape Connectivity Report. We coordinated mapping and planning for the BC Columbia Basin, focused on building climate change resilience, and began scientific analysis of how and where wildlife move along the Washington/BC border.