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A timeline of Conservation Northwest

Timeline highlights of what we've accomplished since our founding in 1989.

Dana Lyons on tour
Dana Lyons on tour

A single list can scarcely record the countless volunteers, interns, and staff of Conservation Northwest who have worked thousands of hours on hundreds of projects connecting and protecting wildlands and old growth from the Coast to the BC Rockies to benefit wildlife and people. Still, here are a few highlights of Conservation Northwest's work over the years.

1989

  • Mitch Friedman founds the Greater Ecosystem Alliance (GEA) in Bellingham “to promote the protection of biological diversity through the conservation of large ecosystems, focusing on the greater Olympic, North and Central Cascades, and Columbia Mountain ecosystems.”
  • We launch the Ancient Forest Rescue Expedition, touring a section of a 700-year-old Douglas-fir log across the country to introduce Americans to the clearcutting of their national forests and sound the call for protecting old-growth forests. The expedition runs four times through 1992.
  • We host an “Understanding Ancient Forests” workshop and seminar.
  • GEA begins designing recovery programs for gray wolf and grizzly bear in Washington state.

1990

  • Greater Ecosystem Alliance issues a special report on the Greater North Cascades Ecosystem.
  • We appeal the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest Plan for its failure to protect old growth and roadless areas.
  • We host an “Old Forests and New Forestry” seminar featuring forest ecologist Jerry Franklin.
  • We join other petitioners to list Pacific fishers, a small forest mammal, as an endangered species in the Northwest.

1991

  • We sponsor “Of Wolves and Washington,” a public symposium on wolf recovery.
  • To protect Canada lynx, we petition to achieve Endangered Species Act recognition for this rare wild cat.
  • Greater Ecosystem Alliance spearheads the Wild Salmon and Trout Alliance, a conservation/sportsfishing coalition working to protect wild salmonid runs and their habitats.
  • We start work to protect the Loomis State Forest, home to most of the remaining lynx in Washington, from logging.

1992

  • We launch a regional biodiversity initiative for the transboundary Columbia Mountain ecosystem.
  • Greater Ecosystem Alliance’s mission is amended to “protecting the wildness and diversity of transboundary areas of British Columbia and the Northwest states.”

1993

  • The Loomis Forest is added to the North Cascades Grizzly Recovery Area in the federal Grizzly Bear Recovery Plan.
  • Together with the Cascades International Alliance, we propose a North Cascades International Park.
  • With others we organize an Ancient Forest Celebration in Portland on the eve of President Clinton’s Forest Summit, attracting 70,000 people to hear Carole King, Neil Young, David Crosby, and others.
  • We recruit a Russian Far East Representative to advocate for boreal conifer and birch forests and wildlife.

1994

  • Greater Ecosystem Alliance releases a conservation plan for the Canadian portion of the Columbia Mountains Ecosystem.
  • We put forth our own grizzly bear recovery program to encourage the US Fish and Wildlife Service to raise its sights for recovery of North Cascades grizzly bears.

1995

  • The organization's name is changed to Northwest Ecosystem Alliance as we broaden our mission “to protect and restore wildlands in the Pacific Northwest and support such efforts in BC, bridging science and advocacy, and working with activists, policymakers, and the general public to conserve our natural heritage.”
  • Northwest Ecosystem Alliance launches a nationwide “Endangered Salmon Adventure,” with a 25-foot-long, fiberglass salmon, to raise awareness about imperiled species and threats to the Endangered Species Act.
  • We sue to have hound hunting and bear baiting outlawed in the North Cascades Grizzly Bear Recovery Zone.

1996

  • In a precedent-setting move, NWEA bids on the Thunder Mountain timber salvage sale in the Okanogan National Forest, building public awareness of the Forest Service’s money-losing timber sale program.
  • Members of Western Washington University’s Western Endangered Species Alliance—assisted by NWEA—occupy Rep. Norm Dick’s office to protest the Salvage “logging without laws” Rider.
  • We help pass Initiative 655 banning bear baiting and hound hunting of bear, cougars, and bobcats in Washington state.
  • We publish the report, “Arid Lands of Eastern Washington: Biology, Ecological Condition, and Conservation Strategies.”

1997

  • Northwest Ecosystem Alliance helps design the Cispus Adaptive Management Area plan, protecting roadless, old-growth-forests in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest
  • We sue to protect lynx under the ESA.

1998

  • Northwest Ecosystem Alliance reaches a precedent-setting agreement with Washington state to raise money to permanently protect state trust lands in the Loomis Forest.
  • With others, we sue the Office of the US Trade Representative for violations of National Environmental Policy Act and Endangered Species Act arising from the Softwood Lumber Agreement between the US and Canada.
  • We document Washington state's failures on Forest Practice Rules, filing suit against the state to improve environmental safeguards for logging on state and private forest lands.
  • We sue the federal government to follow the Northwest Forest Plan and protect old-growth wildlife.

1999

  • In the same year, Northwest Ecosystem Alliance launches and completes the Loomis Forest Fund, raising $16.7 million dollars to protect 25,000 acres in the Loomis State Forest, habitat critical to survival of Canada lynx in Washington.
  • With others, we file the Pelly Petition, calling on Canada to pass endangered species legislation.
  • We petition the US Fish & Wildlife Service to list the western sage grouse of the Washington shrub-steppe ecosystem.
  • Judge William Dwyer rules in favor of NWEA and others saying the federal government failed to protect wildlife on national forests as required in the Northwest Forest Plan.
  • We celebrate our 10th anniversary with the first annual, Jammin’ for Salmon event in Bellingham.

2000

  • We initiate The Cascades Conservation Partnership to purchase and protect private “checkerboard” forest lands connecting the Alpine Lakes Wilderness with Mount Rainier.
  • Canada lynx is listed as  threatened across its lower 48-state range, the result of an original petition brought by GEA.
  • NWEA helps promote a bill that would end old-growth logging in the Pacific Northwest.
  • The Washington legislature passes a bill to protect Lake Whatcom, drinking watershed for greater Bellingham, with a Lake Whatcom forest land management plan. The protection plan was introduced and bill pushed forward by citizen activists and NWEA.
  • We launch an initiative to protect state lands on Blanchard Mountain near Bellingham.
  • We organizes the first Washington State Trust Lands Conference.
  • In partnership with the state, NWEA implements the Rare Carnivore Remote Camera Project to document the presence of carnivores in the North Cascades.

2001

  • Thanks to NWEA, Canada’s Snowy Mountain Provincial Park, just north of the Loomis Forest, is formally protected.
  • With partners including Biodiversity Northwest, we help launch the Northwest Old-Growth Campaign.
  • We start ours “Grove Guardian” citizen activists program to adopt and monitor 65,000 acres of timber sales.
  • We publish “Trampling the Trust,” a report on the Washington State Department of Natural Resources grazing program.

2002

  • NWEA hosts the "Restoring Our Roots" rally for old growth in Seattle, featuring Dave Matthews (who donated his performance) and attended by 3,000 people, protesting the increased salvage logging proposed by the "Healthy Forests Initiative."
  • We file suit to stop Lock and Swell timber sales on the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, which targeted rare roadless old growth.
  • With others we block spraying of pesticides in eastside national forests.
  • We produce “Greening the Trade in Trees,” a report on changes needed to Canada/US trade policies to protect forest habitat.
  • We file suit to protect the western gray squirrel under the ESA. Rare, remnant oak-woodland prairie at Fort Lewis, site of a proposed Cross-Base Highway, is home to one of only three remaining populations of the rare native mammal in Washington.
  • The exclusive Northwest premiere of The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers in Seattle benefits The Cascades Conservation Partnership.
  • The Partnership protects a four-mile stretch of Yakima River, showing the effectiveness of raising private dollars to leverage public funds.

2003

  • We start collaborative work to steer Forest Service toward restoration of young, managed tree plantations on Washington’s national forests.
  • We begin partnership with the Department of Fish and Wildlife to recover fisher to Washington, raising $25,000 to fund a reintroduction feasibility study.
  • We convene a scientific forum on the management of Washington's young, planted second-growth forests.
  • After four years, The Cascades Conservation Partnership celebrates its finale. During the course of the campaign, The Partnership raised $16 million in private funds and $56 million more from Congress and inspired more than 16,000 people to protect nearly 45,000 acres of forest, streamside, trails, and wildlife habitat, between Alpine Lakes and Mount Rainier.

2004

  • With allies we kick off the Mountain Caribou Campaign to protect one of the rarest mammals in North America and its old-growth habitat in British Columbia.
  • We roll out the Ancient Forest Roadshow, touring nationally "the Doug," an old-growth Douglas fir recently cut on public lands in Oregon, to illustrate the ongoing logging threats to the Northwest's old-growth trees.
  • We filed suit against Bush administration to abide by the Northwest Forest Plan and protect fish habitat and rare plants and animals.
  • NWEA moves yet again to force implementation of recovery plan for grizzly bears in the North Cascades, building on two other suits for the bear, the first filed in 1993.
  • We merge with the Kettle Range Conservation Group, gaining offices in Republic and Spokane. Since its founding in the late 1970s, Kettle Range Conservation Group worked to protect and defend wilderness and wildlife in the Kettle River Range, Columbia Mountains, and Selkirks of northeastern Washington.
  • Together with local timber industry and community leaders, we join together with the Northeast Washington Forestry Coalition to focus on forest lands on the Colville National Forest.
  • We form the I-90 Wildlife Bridges Coalition to ensure high-quality wildlife passage north to south across Interstate 90 in Washington's Cascades and continue the work of The Cascades Conservation Partnership.

2005

  • We adopt a new name, Conservation Northwest, and adapt our mission statement to best communicate our values to the broad community of people we serve: "Conservation Northwest protects and connects old-growth forests and other wild areas from the Washington Coast to the BC Rockies for the benefit of both people and wildlife."
  • We initiate the Columbia Highlands Initiative,a management blueprint for wilderness protection, forest restoration, and jobs in the woods on the Colville National Forest of northeastern Washington. table.
  • A King County Superior Court judge heeds our arguments and agrees that the state must protect westside forests, not increase logging, in forest habitat essential to northern spotted owls.
  • Our work with the Pinchot Partnership helps develop Smooth Juniper, a landmark ecologically based forest restoration thinning project on the Gifford Pinchot National Forest.
  • As part of the Washington Invasive Species Coalition, we create a gardeners booklet, work with nurseries to reduce sale of problem invasive plants, and help establish a statewide coordinating Invasive Species Council.

2006

  • In response to a case brought by Conservation Northwest and others, a court ruling prohibits snowmobiles in the last remaining winter caribou habitat in the Selkirk Mountains, giving the endangered species some much needed peace.
  • The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife forms a Working Wolf Group, including Conservation Northwest, to plan Washington wolf conservation and management.
  • The courts halt 144 old growth timber sales in response to a suit by Conservation Northwest and others, reinstating rules requiring federal agencies to look for and protect rare plants and animals before logging forests.
  • The forest service adds nearly 130,000 acres to their roadless inventory in the Okanogan/Wenatchee national forests, spurred by information gathered by Conservation Northwest and volunteers.
  • Conservation Northwest participates in a collaborative Blanchard Strategies Group, reaching a landmark agreement resolving a development and logging threats for Blanchard Mountain.
  • In a breakthrough for the wolverine, a federal judge says that the government must consider new legal protections for this rare animal in the lower 48 states.
  • Conservation Northwest and allies take the Cross-Base Highway planners to court for violations of the Endangered Species Act and the National Environmental Policy Act over their plan to develop rare oak-woodland prairie.

2007

  • The first batch of Pacific fishers, a native forest carnivore, are released into the Olympic Peninsula as a result of a reintroduction plan that we helped spearhead.
  • We persuade the Forest Service to protect old-growth habitat and post-burn trees for lynx and other wildlife at the site of the Tripod Fire in north-central Washington.
  • We protect 6,500 acres in the Okanogan by matching conservation buyers with willing sellers and helping ranchers add conservation easements to their ranches.
  • We help improve more than 28,000 acres of public forest around the state by thinning overgrowth, decommissioning unused roads, and reducing flammable forest fuels.
  • After we threaten legal action, the US Fish and Wildlife Service agrees to reexamine the exception from federal protection of critical habitat for 18 endangered species including lynx, nothern spotted owl, marbled murrelet, and bull trout.
  • Conservation Northwest initiates Wild Links, an annual wildlife briefing gathering experts and interested citizens to share ideas and better coordinate ongoing efforts to keep our region's wildlife habitat wild and connected.

2008

  • Historic natural return of wolves to Washington is recorded on Conservation Northwest's remote cameras in the Methow Valley.
  • The BC government legalizes a recovery plan for caribou protecting 2.2 million hectares of critical caribou habitat from logging and road building, thanks to the Mountain Caribou Project, a coalition spearheaded by Conservation Northwest.
  • We file suit with other conservation groups against the US Fish and Wildlife Service for failure to protect the wolverine under the Endangered Species Act.
  • With our partners Forest Stewardship council and the Center for Biological Diversity, we file a lawsuit against the US government for illegally steering $350 million under the Bush administration to foundations that represent large timber industries. The money was part of a $1 billion "gift" that the US Trade Representatives secured from Canada to settle a decade-long lumber trade dispute between the two countries.
  • A new 8,400 acre preserve is proposed for Lake Whatcom to protect drinking water, create low-impact recreation opportunities, and provide vital habitat for wildlife.

2009

  • With the help of partners, we help local ranchers secure conservation easements on four ranches, totally about 8,000 acres to keep these lands open for grazing and wildlife habitat.
  • Our collaborative work restores forests, reintroduces fire, removes old roads, and protects old trees on 6,000 acres of dry forest in the Naches Ranger District.
  • Construction starts on a wildlife underpass at Gold Creek, first phase of the I-90 Snoqualmie Pass East Project, supported by I-90 Wildlife Bridges coalition and Conservation Northwest.
  • Whatcom County Council approves funding to establish a new Lake Whatcom county park, protecting a quarter of the watershed.
  • We are part of the Blanchard Strategies Agreement, keeping intact 80 acres of private forest land on the south slope of Blanchard Mountain.

2010

  • We host the public roll-out of the Columbia Highlands Initiative, a balanced plan for wilderness, forest recreation, and ranchland protection for the Colville National Forest of northeastern Washington.
  • We submit an application to the federal Forest Legacy Program to keep the Gotham family's 2,200 acre ranch and tree farm safe from development.
  • Northern Rockies' wolves are protected again under the federal Endangered Species Act by a federal judge's ruling.
  • The Wolf Working Group, of which we are part, helped develop a final schedule for passing a Washington wolf plan, with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.
  • Pacific fishers - a native forest carnivore - are reintroduced released into Olympic Mountains old growth.
  • The fourth annual Wild Links wildlife briefing focuses on partnerships, connectivity, and adapting species and ecosystems to climate change.

2011

  • Washington's wolves gain a state wolf conservation and recovery plan.
  • Conservation Northwest posts funds for a WDFW $10,000 reward fund to help stem the tide of poaching of wolves and other wildlife.
  • We gain the first conservation easements in the Columbia Highlands, for the Dawson and Gotham ranch families, protecting open space and connecting wildlife habitat.
  • A hiker takes the first confirmed photo in 15 years of a North Cascades grizzly bear
  • I-90 Wildlife Bridges Coalition gains first funding for I-90 project and wildlife crossings in the Cascades
  • Old-growth dependent wildlife gain official "survey and manage" protections from the US FWS.
  • With the Wildlife Habitat Connectivity Working Group, we published a Washington Landscape Connectivity Report

2012

  • We build on years of forest restoration work and collaboration.
  • We helped attain a federal grant of $1 million for Colville National Forest jobs and forest restoration.
  • We help turn back another attempt to fund the Cross-Base Highway
  • With collaboration, we improved the Forest Service’s proposed plans for 5 million acres of Washington’s national forests and Washington’s 9-million-acre Habitat Conservation Plan to recover endangered salmon and trout on 60,000 miles of streams and rivers
  • We created the first grizzly bear sightings hotline in BC
  • We created a Columbia Highlands wildlife guide to highlight the region’s rich wildlife and wild lands with sponsorships from numerous local businesses
  • 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 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
  • We launched the Safe Passage on Highway 97 coalition to bring twin wildlife underpasses in a high traffic area in the Okanogan Valley.
  • With the Wildlife Habitat Connectivity Working Group, we published a Columbia Basin connectivity analysis.
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