Accomplishments in 2019
Conservation Northwest / Dec 30, 2019 / Connecting Habitat, Protecting Wildlands, Restoring Wildlife
During our 30th anniversary year, through your support we made important progress protecting, connecting and restoring local wildlands and wildlife.
2019 was a milestone year for our work keeping the Northwest wild. Despite challenges from the Trump Administration and continued under-funding for fish and wildlife out of Olympia, our staff and volunteers persevered to permanently protect three regional “crown jewels”, restore tens of thousands of acres of forests and sagelands, and promote the recovery of 15 species of native wildlife through projects ranging from fisher reintroduction to Highway 97 wildlife crossings.
Bold, innovative and effective, our strategic conservation programs focus on protecting, connecting and restoring key wildlife species, large wildlands, and vital habitat corridors across the Pacific Northwest, from the British Columbia Rockies all the way to the Washington Coast.
Since 1989, we’ve protected hundreds of thousands of acres of wildlands, supported the recovery of threatened wildlife, and touched thousands of lives throughout the greater Northwest.
Collaboration is key to our approach, and we recognize that for long-term progress, conservation must go hand-in-hand with healthy, diverse communities. We’re restoring wildlands and wildlife by working with diverse stakeholders.
Check out a graphic summarizing 2019 Accomplishments below. Scroll down for details!
And we can’t close out the year without one final reminder that you can still make a tax-deductible year-end gift to support this work: please consider renewing your membership or making an online donation today. THANK YOU and Happy New Year!
Click here for PDF version. Scroll down for details.
Regional Crown Jewels Permanently Protected
Methow Headwaters: After more than five years of tireless advocacy from organizations, businesses, and local residents, including our Twisp-based staffers George Wooten and Dave Werntz, in March this incredible area was permanently protected from industrial mining. Our team in the Methow Valley were leaders in this campaign, and back in 2014 we organized early advocacy against the mine proposal, including more than 3,000 public comments that helped buy time for opposition to organize.
Blanchard Mountain: in October, we received an announcement Conservation Northwest has been working towards for nearly 20 years: 1,600 acres of forest around Blanchard Mountain were protected, forever. Located south of Bellingham off Chuckanut Drive and home to Oyster Dome, Lily Lake and other beloved outdoor destinations, Blanchard Mountain is a hugely popular recreation area visited by as many as 100,000 people from across the region each year.
South Okanagan-Similikameen National Park: Our work for wildlife and wildlands doesn’t stop at the border, and we’ve long supported efforts to permanently protect British Columbia’s only grasslands ecosystem, just north of Oroville, Washington. In July, the governments of Canada and British Columbia, the Lower Similkameen Indian Band, and the Osoyoos Indian Band announced a Memorandum of Understanding that establishes the initial terms for the South Okanagan-Similkameen (SOS) National Park Reserve.
In December, we were glad to hear that British Columbia was banning logging in the unprotected “Donut Hole” in the Skagit Headwaters, progress our international staff have long worked for alongside Canadian partners including the Wilderness Committee. But with the threat of industrial mining still hanging over this international watershed, this crown jewel isn’t permanently protected just yet. Visit our webpage to learn more about this effort.
- Through our Forest Field Program, Central Cascades Watersheds Restoration program, and Sagelands Heritage Program, we removed a total of seven miles of old fences and obsolete forest roads in the Methow Wildlife Area, Quilomene Wildlife Area, Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest and Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.
- These same three programs also conducted or advised habitat restoration on more than 24,000 acres of public lands across the state, including on the Colville National Forest, in central Washington’s shrub-steppe, and in the Mount Hull area of north-central Washington, a critical “stepping stone” that connects the Cascades to the Kettle River Mountain Range across the Okanogan Valley and habitat for bighorn sheep and other wildlife.
- Our Central Cascades Watersheds Restoration and Sagelands Heritage Program together planted more than 5,000 native plants, including around I-90 Wildlife Crossings and in areas of central Washington burned in recent severe fires.
- Through these programs, 154 volunteers logged 1,222 hours planting, weeding, renovating the Green Gate trailhead and access site on the Quilomene Wildlife Area near Ellensburg, installing ATV trail maps for responsible motorized use near Greenwater, and restoring damaged meadows and habitat for elk, fishers and spotted owls in the Central Cascades. We also led tours in the area with tribes, colleagues and congressional staff.
- National Forest Watch has been a key component of our Forest Field Program since our founding 30 years ago. This year, our scientists, contract foresters and volunteers covered three national forests: the Okanogan-Wenatchee, Mount Baker-Snoqualmie and Colville, watchdogging timber sales, road closures and other impacts to these public lands.
- We worked with partners to renovate Janis Bridge on Highway 97 in the Okanogan Valley to serve as a wildlife crossing, and installed fencing along the highway to help prevent collisions with motorists and direct animals to the undercrossing. Wildlife from mule deer to cougars responded right away!
- We sent out 16 WILD NW Action Alerts on topics ranging from wolf conservation planning and public lands to pronghorn antelope recovery and marbled murrlets
- More than 3,729 advocates took action sending over 13,000 messages through our simple action forms, with many more engaging directly with agencies and elected officials using our suggested comments.
- Our staff, contractors and partners in the Methow Valley organized a local petition supporting grizzly bear restoration for Okanogan and Chelan county residents. More than 148 residents and businesses signed, and we delivered the petition to U.S. Department of the Interior leadership and Congressman Dan Newhouse at a public meeting in Omak in October.
- Our staff participated in 33 coalitions, collaboratives and advisory groups ranging from the state’s Wildlife Diversity Advisory Council and Marbled Murrelet Solutions Table, to the Washington Prescribed Fire Council and the Save Our Wild Salmon Coalition.
- Our staff submitted 22 organizational comments on issues ranging from forest restoration to wolf and grizzly bear. We also signed-on to 17 joint comment letters with our partners at the National Wildlife Federation and other groups on topics including Roadless Rule protections, the Land and Water Conservation Fund and a concerning appointment by President Trump to lead the Bureau of Land Management.
- Our Citizen Wildlife Monitoring Project documented three target species (wolves, wolverines and fishers), maintained 64 remote camera sites thanks to 124 volunteers, led 31 snow tracking transect survey days around I-90, and contributed a total of 4,630 volunteer hours (1430 snow tracking, 3200 remote cameras). Stay tuned for more results in our upcoming CWMP annual report!
- Our conservation programs focused on 15 focal species this year, ranging from wolves and fishers to lynx, pronghorn, mule deer and pygmy rabbits. Visit our Restoring Wildlife webpage for the full list!
- We published three reports or scientific papers this year, including on fisher reintroduction, grizzly bear hazards and recovery strategies in southern British Columbia’s Coast Range, and habitat connectivity between the Cascade Mountains and Olympic Peninsula. We’ll be sharing the latter two soon, stay tuned!
- In January, November and December, we released 68 fishers into the North and South Cascades, reaching our project goal (80 fishers) in the North Cascades and nearing it in the South Cascades around Mount Rainier. We’ll wrap up this collaborative reintroduction project with the National Park Service and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife in early 2020.
- Our Range Rider Pilot Project deployed six range riders from spring through fall, covering more than 135,000 acres of wolf territory in northeast Washington and the Teanaway Valley of the Central Cascades. Local ranchers appreciated these efforts and applauded our partnership.
- Wolf recovery continued in Washington, with more than 126 wolves confirmed at the end of 2018. Experts estimate more than 150 wolves likely roam our state today.
- Our communications team worked with reporters across the region to highlight local wildlands and wildlife, resulting in 144 media articles featuring our work! We also solicited five op-eds and editorials on topics including fish and wildlife funding.
- Short web videos are an effective way to convey conservation information, and we produced eight of them, sharing via our Facebook and YouTube channel. We also expanded our activity on Instagram to reach new audiences with stories from the field and adorable wildlife photos!
- With 2019 being our 30th Anniversary, we set a goal of at least one outreach event per month, both hosted by CNW staff and organized with partners and local groups. We met that goal with 12 events across the state from Seattle and Bellingham to Winthrop, Chewelah and Spokane.
- We also tabled at more than 20 outreach events, ranging from Green Drinks happy hours to job fairs and diversity seminars, and Rainier Beer’s R Day celebration in Georgetown.
After years of advocacy from local residents, businesses and organizations, the Methow Headwaters are permanently protected in a massive bipartisan public lands package signed by the President.
Wolf recovery continues in Washington, with a minimum of 126 wolves, 27 packs, and 15 successful breeding pairs confirmed. Today, more than 150 wolves likely roam our state!
We published our commitment to Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, and launched a new webpage to share resources, updates and events.
We joined First Nations, Tribes and conservationists in Washington and British Columbia to oppose mining in the Skagit Headwaters, generating more than 655 letters to the B.C. Premier.
We worked with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Colville tribes and others to support pronghorn recovery as the reintroduced animals spread across central Washington’s sagelands.
After years of working with partners in B.C., the province and Canada announced the establishment of the South Okanagan-Similkameen National Park Reserve just north of the border.
A WSDOT monitoring camera on the new I-90 wildlife bridge documented the first deer, coyotes and other critters to cross over the interstate, and our I-90 Wildlife Watch project continues to receive reports from motorists.
During the ninth year of our Range Rider Pilot Project, we continued to support coexistence in wolf country, including new rapid response range riders.
The final land transfer permanently protecting the 1,600-acre Blanchard Core in the Chuckanut Mountains was approved—a win we’ve been fighting 20 years for!
We hosted more than 250 people in the Methow Valley for a discussion about grizzly bear recovery in the North Cascades with our partners, including radio and TV host Chris Morgan.
We released more fishers into the North and South Cascades with our partners at WDFW and the National Park Service.
We completed Phase 1 of the Safe Passage 97 project in the Okanogan Valley: renovating Janis Bridge to better serve as a wildlife undercrossing.
We restored habitat in the Central Cascades with a total of 7 work parties, 154 volunteers, 1,222 volunteer hours, and 3,500 plants.
We shared our favorite wildlife monitoring photos from the year, with amazing shots of wolves, black bears, bobcats, golden eagles and much more!