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25 years of success

— filed under:

A quarter century of milestones reached by Conservation Northwest staff and supporters, 1989-2014.

25 years of protecting old growth
25 years of protecting old growth

In 1989: The Ancient Forest Rescue Expedition introduces America to a tangible piece of a disappearing heritage by touring an 8-foot-wide Douglas fir log on a semi-truck trailer through 28 states in 29 days. Our adventure is recounted in William Dietrich’s Pulitzer-winning book, The Final Forest.

Read more in our 25th anniversary newsletter

In 1990: We mail a Special Report on the Greater North Cascades Ecosystem to various lists, framing our landscape approach and generating our initial membership.

In 1991: Mark Skatrud and Mitch Friedman submit a petition to the US Fish and Wildlife Service to protect Canada lynx under the Endangered Species Act.

We host a conference series in Seattle, including, “Of Wolves and Washington” (at which we proposed a distinct recovery effort for wolves in the Pacific Northwest), “Biodiversity and the Greater North Cascades Ecosystem,” “Clearcuts and Condos,” “Old Forests or New Forestry,” and other timely topics.

We publish the classy pamphlet, Questions and answers about biodiversity in Northwest forests, which helped reframe the old-growth forest issue to a biological high ground.

In 1992: We launch our Regional Biodiversity Initiative, applying best available science to produce conservation proposals for the transboundary greater North Cascades and Columbia Mountains ecosystems, and hire our first biologist (not counting me), creating our British Columbia field office.

We distribute a gorgeous set of postcards promoting awareness of lynx and the logging threat in north-central Washington, including the Loomis State Forest.

In 1993: With peers in the Cascades International Alliance, we propose a Cascades International Park, invoking conspiracy theories that live on to this day.

In the aftermath of President Clinton’s Northwest Forest Plan, Mitch Friedman hires Dave Werntz to guide our national forest engagement to gain the best possible plan implementation. This forest field program thrives to this day.

In 1996: When the Okanogan National Forest auctions logging rights to the Thunder Mountain Timber Sale, we are the high bidder, making national news and opening alliances with fiscal conservatives in Congress against below-cost logging.

We win a judicial ruling halting use of hounds or baits for hunting in the North Cascades grizzly bear recovery zone.

In 1999: With the engagement of an incredibly supportive community, we raise over $18 million (80 times our annual budget) in 15 months to permanently protect 25,000 acres of wild Loomis Forest from logging or road building.

In 2000: Our work with the Lower Similkameen Indian Band allowed designation of a 70,000 acre Snowy Mountain Provincial Park adjoining the Loomis to the north.
We launch The Cascades Conservation Partnership, which through 2004 raised $18 million in private funds and leveraged $60 million in public funds to protect 45,000 acres of critical corridor habitat linking the Cascades across the I-90 corridor.

Through the clever guidance of Conservation Northwest staff Lisa McShane, we help pass a bill in Olympia that sets in motion events that eventually leads to protecting a 15-square mile Lake Whatcom Park.

In 2001: We grant $80,000 to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife to begin work resulting in reintroduction of fishers, a native forest carnivore, into Olympic National Park.

In 2002: We initiate collaborative forest restoration work that ends the logging of old growth on the Gifford Pinchot National Forest and recasts our style of federal forest engagement.

GEA->NWEA->Conservation Northwest
GEA->NWEA->Conservation Northwest

In 2004: After taking stock of our first 15 years, with much higher success in our western geography, we reorganize to succeed on the eastside. Merging with Kettle Range Conservation Group, we change into Conservation Northwest and launch the Columbia Highlands Initiative.

We launch the I-90 Wildlife Bridges Coalition to follow up The Cascades Conservation Partnership and make sure adequate wildlife underpasses and overpasses are built east of Snoqualmie Pass and connecting habitat is restored.

In 2007: Responding to determined efforts of our Mountain Caribou Project, the BC government protects over five million acres for mountain caribou.

We host the first Wild Links Conference, at which we annually host a community of biologists and leaders to advance science, connect habitat, and recover carnivores.
After successful negotiations, Conservation Northwest and diverse partners in the Northeast Washington Forestry Coalition announced agreement on a balanced vision for wilderness protection, forest restoration, and sustainable management in the 1.1 million acre Colville National Forest.

In 2008: Conservation Northwest’s Citizen Wildlife Monitoring Project captures photos of the Lookout Pack, the first breeding wolves to return to Washington in more than 70 years. Our cameras go on to record the recent recolonization of the Cascades by wolverines.

In 2009: All parties in the Northeast Washington Forestry Coalition sign a memorandum of agreement to the vision and principles enshrined in our blueprint.

In 2011: Washington adopts the best wolf recovery plan in the nation, building on direct stakeholder participation from Conservation Northwest and substantial public engagement.   

$1 million program focuses all forestry on the Colville National Forest on restoration objectives. The pursuit of permanent roadless area protection in the Kettles continues.
Our first range rider demonstration pilot successfully keeps the Smackout wolf pack out of conflict with the Dawson family cattle herd, showing that coexistence can work for wolves and the rancher, who was also pleased with how fat his cows got.

In 2013: Now with three range riders and guided by Conservation Northwest’s Jay Kehne, we go through an entire season with no significant conflict between wolves and cattle.

A new Lake Whatcom Park is established through transfer of almost 9,000 acres of land from the state to Whatcom County. The watershed supplies drinking water to 90,000 people.

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation approves a seven-year plan to protect the function of a wildlife habitat corridor linking the Cascades to the Rockies where it crosses the Okanogan River Valley. We are a part of this new initiative, “Working for Wildlife.”

In 2014: After 25 years, there are positive signs that the federal government is warming up to a recovery plan for grizzly bears in the North Cascades.

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