Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Wild Sky Wilderness Area Becomes a Reality

On Tuesday, April 29, the U.S. House of Representatives put to rest any question about the fate of the proposed Wild Sky Wilderness Area - they passed it. The first new wilderness area in over two decades, the Wild Sky covers around 106,000 acres of forest in the Cascades around Index and Skykomish. This is a momentous occasion for the many outdoor groups and individuals who have devoted their time towards securing the wildereness designation. The president still has to sign the bill that Wild Sky is attached to, but he is widely expected to sign.

Read the Seattle Times article on Wild Sky's passage.
Read Joel Connelly's article in the Seattle P-I
Representative Rick Larsen's website has news about Wild Sky

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

2008 Hazel Wolf Environmental Film Festival

May 1-4, 2008
Johnson Hall, University of Washington, Seattle

Over a decade ago, a group of dedicated environmentalists and filmmakers organized the first environmental festival in the heart of the Wenatchee forest near Leavenworth, WA. It was the beginning of a decade-long convergence of filmmakers, activists, and concerned citizens to experience, create, and share environmental films. Inspired by their success, organizers formed a board of directors in 2002 and created the nonprofit organization, Hazel Wolf Environmental Film Network (HWEFN). The organization is named in honor of the passionate and much-loved local activist, Hazel Wolf.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Hazel Wolf Film Festival, and we would like to invite you to attend. The Mountaineers is sponsoring the opening night event of the festival, a screening of "Oil + Water." This film is a jaw-dropping white water adventure film about two kayakers embarking on the longest-ever, biofuels-only road trip road trip through 16 countries in a retro-fitted Japanese fire truck named "Baby." Kayaker/filmmaker Seth Warren, founder of the Biofuels Education Coalition, will attend the screening and answer questions. Also joining the discussion is UW associate professor Martha Groom, lead author on a recent study quantifying differences in biofuel crops and their impacts on the environment.

Over the course of four days, the festival features over 50 films, animations, speakers and family programming. Films explore environmental justice, appropriate technology, wilderness adventure, urban wildlife, mining, wolves, rivers, youth activism and more. The festival also offers filmmaking workshops and expert panels focusing on sustainability and controversial environmental issues and campaigns happening locally and around the world.

Get more information about the Hazel Wolf Film Festival and buy tickets through their website.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Revel in the Mid-Fork’s Recovery

If you remember the days when jaunting up the Middle Fork of the Snoqualmie River sometimes involved sidestepping tossed beer cans, fire rings full of everything but wood, and flinching at the all-too-frequent blasts from young guns testing their prowess with repeater firearms aimed at targets along and across the stream, you can appreciate how far the Mid-Fork Valley has come. Thanks to concerned organizations such as The Mountaineers, the Sierra Club, Cascade Land Conservancy and Mountains to Sound Greenway—just to name a few—the Mid-Fork has recovered from its dark days and become a sanctuary for the entire public to enjoy. You can celebrate the success of the Mid-Fork preservation effort at a function sponsored by Cascade Land Conservancy on Sat., May 31.
Read what the Cascade Land Conservancy has to say about it.

A tribute to the tree keeper

The Issaquah Alps Trail Club is rallying the environmental ranks to erect a larger-than-life statue for a former Mountaineer whose work in preservation looms larger than life in the great Northwest: Harvey Manning. You can lend your hand to this sculpture, destined for positioning near the Issaquah Alps Trail Center in Issaquah, by donating.
Find out how you can help and what it’s all about on page M5 of last month’s Mountaineer.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Sierra Club panel on Transportation & Climate Change

Transportation & Climate Change: What's tolling got to do with it?
Monday, March 24th, 7-8:30pm. REI - Seattle

Climate change is real, it's here, and it is quickly taking over as the greatest environmental challenge of our time. In Washington State, the majority of our global warming pollution comes from the transportation sector. This month's Cool State Forum will discuss variable tolling as a solution to our transportation woes. The panel will also tackle the tough question: is tolling an equitable solution for our communities?

Our expert panelists include:
Representative Judy Clibborn, House Transportation Chair
Eric De Place, Sightline Institute
Mark Hallenbeck, Director of UW Transportation Research Center
Mark Muriello, Assistant Director of the Tunnels, Bridges and Terminals Department within the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey
Facilitating the discussion will be Erica Barnett, reporter for The Stranger.

There will be time for questions in this 1 ½ hour forum. Please join this lively discussion and help kick off the 2008 Cool State Campaign!

Please RSVP to help us plan ahead. Email or call the Sierra Club at 206.378.0114 x308 or

Friday, March 14, 2008

Mount Rainier Recovery Poster

Following the amazingly destructive winter season of 2006, The Mountaineers joined a coalition of outdoor groups to help with recovery at Mt. Rainier National Park. Assembling volunteer teams, donations and generating awareness, this coalition successfully helped repair many of the damaged roads and trails within the park. The work is ongoing.
The attached poster, given to the coalition by Ranger Doug Enterprises, is a reproduction of a classic WPA poster. These were produced between 1935 and 1943 and were designed to motivate citizens to take a greater interest in the outdoors, and by extension, their health and well-being. The Ranger Doug website has more background on this.
We thought you all would appreciate seeing this classic-style poster. It's nice to have The Mountaineers logo attached to something so beautiful and meaningful.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Public Policy Associate opening at The Mountaineers

The Mountaineers, with over 100 years in Western Washington, is hiring a full-time Public Policy Associate for our headquarters in Seattle. We have had a long history of wilderness preservation in the region, helping to create Olympic National Park, North Cascades National Park and areas like the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. We've also been at the forefront on many issues dealing with wildlife and recreational access for outdoor enthusiasts.

The Public Policy Associate will help track current environment issues and policies within Western Washington and the greater Pacific Northwest region. This position reports directly to the Executive Director and liasions with our Conservation and Recreational Resources Divisions.

The ideal candidate will have a strong understanding of public policy as it relates to wilderness, the environment and access. A four-year degree is required. We would like someone who can multitask, and who understands that life in a non-profit means that you will do a
variety of work. This is a good position for those with people skills, as The Mountaineers is a very diverse group with many strong personalities.

For a full description of the position, and details on how to apply, please visit the 'jobs' page of our website.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Conservation NW seeks volunteers

This came from our good friends at Conservation Northwest - they're seeking some volunteer help. - webmaster

Would you like to get out into the woods this spring and summer and help wildlife at the same time? Volunteer to be on one of Conservation Northwest's remote camera teams. Our Cascades Citizen Wildlife Monitoring Project depends on volunteers like you! This project is a joint effort between Conservation Northwest, I-90 Wildlife Bridges Coalition, and Wilderness Awareness School to conduct citizen monitoring of wildlife in Washington’s Cascades mountains.

The goal of the project is to track the presence of all wildlife using habitat near the proposed crossing structures along I-90 as well as to document and collect data on wildlife presence in core habitat areas of the North Cascades, with some cameras targeted towards rare species such as lynx, wolverine and the North Cascades grizzly. For more information, we have a webpage on the program at: and

You can also view some of the some of the great wildlife photos that we captured last year on our cameras, including pine martens along I-90 and wolverines in the North Cascades (more photos to come)!

Read the rest of the post...

We need volunteers willing to join a camera team that will be collectively responsible for installing a camera and checking it monthly from March to October (that is about 7 trips), and some cameras may not be installed until snowmelt in later spring for the backcountry. Depending on your time and interest, you may either elect to adopt a camera as a “team leader” (and even form your own team if you choose) or simply join a camera team as a member that will attend at least 2 checks. We will have 4 teams checking cameras along I-90 and 8 teams checking cameras in core habitat areas of the North Cascades. The North Cascades teams are the ones most likely to start later in the spring.

Team leaders who “adopt” a camera will coordinate and schedule their team members to conduct checks and refresh lure on that camera. We are looking for both short-distance volunteers to check cameras along I-90, which involve short day hikes; and long-distance volunteers to check cameras in core habitat areas of the North Cascades, which may involve strenuous hiking off-trail and overnight backpacks. Volunteers should plan to attend one of our trainings on protocol and equipment and commit to at least two remote camera checks this spring/summer. We will be also be scheduling optional amphibian surveys over the summer where biologists will train you on-site to conduct surveys.

If you’d like to find out more about the program, contact us and/or join us on Thursday evening March 13th for our annual celebration in Seattle over pizza and drinks to thank our volunteers by looking back at the last full year of citizen wildlife monitoring and ahead to the next. Space is limited, so RSVP is required to Marlo Mytty 206.675.9747 x 201.

If you’re interested in helping out – either as a dedicated team member or an occasional responder to help if and when you can, here’s what to do:

-- Let me know you’re interested. Please include what your availability is like, whether you’d prefer short or long-distance checks and your desired level of commitment - whether you’d like to commit to at least two trips as a team member or team leader... or whether you’d prefer not to commit, but rather be on a responders' pool list.

-- Attend one of our trainings which will be held from 6-8 pm Monday March 31st in our Seattle office and Wednesday April 2nd in our Bellingham office.

-- If you are unable to attend one of these trainings, but would still like to volunteer, please let me know and we may schedule alternate trainings.

Thank you for helping us keep the Northwest wild! Please contact me for more information.


Marlo Mytty, Volunteer Coordinator for Cascades Citizen Wildlife Montoring Project
I-90 Wildlife Bridges Coalition & Conservation Northwest
206.675.9747 x 201
3414 ½ Fremont Ave N
Seattle, WA 98103

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Wilderness 2008 Conference

April 3-5, 2008
Kane Hall, UW Campus and Mountaineers Building, Seattle

Over the space of three days, people from all over North America will come together at the University of Washington campus and The Mountaineers Building in Seattle to discuss the future of wilderness. The Wilderness 2008 Conference boasts an amazing schedule of workshops, speakers and social events. Participants will look at some of the changes happening in the world and their impacts on wilderness preservation.

The event kicks off on Thursday, April 3, with an evening presentation by award-winning environmental photo-journalist Gary Braasch, author of Earth Under Fire: How Global Warming is Changing the World. The conference ends with a banquet featuring Stephen Brown, editor of the Mountaineers book Arctic Wings. He will speak on the importance of the arctic as the nesting grounds to many of the world's birds.

For more information on conference activities and to register, visit

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust is hiring

Mountains-to-Sound Greenway Trust is hiring an office associate for their offices in downtown Seattle. Details about the position can be found on their website.

The Greenway stretches along 100 miles of Interstate 90 in Washington State from the waterfront in Seattle to the edge of desert grasslands in Central Washington. Today, most of the landscape not already developed along I-90 is in public ownership and protected as the Mountains to Sound Greenway and designated as a National Scenic Byway. The Greenway includes historic towns and over 700,000 acres of foothills, working farms and forests, spectacular alpine scenery, wildlife habitat, campgrounds, trails, lakes and rivers right in our backyard.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

WDFW works to keep invasive mussels out of state

-A press release from Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife-

OLYMPIA - In early February, a truck hauling a boat covered with thousands of quagga mussels was decontaminated at the Washington-Oregon border. The vessel's engine and trim tabs were pressure-washed with scalding hot water at the Ridgefield Port of Entry, and the non-native mollusks were quickly destroyed.
Read the rest of the post...

The 24-foot pleasure boat was the 11th vessel in the past year found to be carrying quagga or zebra mussels and cleaned at Washington's borders. Both types of mussels - few larger than a nickel - are aquatic invasive species and are prohibited in Washington.

While the tiny mussels didn't make it into Washington, the mollusks have spread throughout a number of other states, overrunning public waterways and displacing native fish and wildlife.

"These invasive mussels have been found in several western states, and they continue to move closer to Washington every year," said Allen Pleus, aquatic nuisance species coordinator for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). "That's a big concern, because if they get into our waters, they will likely spread rapidly."

Once established, quagga mussels and their relative zebra mussels can multiply quickly and threaten native fish and wildlife by consuming available food and smothering other species. The mollusks, which spread by attaching to boats or other water-based equipment, also clog water-intake systems at power plants, irrigation districts, public water suppliers, and other facilities.

Zebra and quagga mussels are native to the Caspian Sea. They entered the Great Lakes in the mid 1980s in ship ballast water, and have since spread to more than 20 states, including California and Nevada, and two Canadian provinces. Both zebra and quagga mussels are easily transported on boats and trailers because they can live out of water for up to a month.

To help prevent the spread of these invasive mollusks, WDFW is working cooperatively with the Washington State Patrol to inspect commercially hauled watercraft at the state's Port of Entry weigh stations. WDFW enforcement officers also conduct vessel inspections during fishing seasons, while other department staff inspect boats at ramps and at events such as fishing tournaments.

Later this year, WDFW plans to operate several check stations for vessels and post signs with information about aquatic invasive species at boat launches and marinas throughout the state.

Unlawful importation of aquatic invasive species is a gross misdemeanor punishable by up to $5,000 in fines and up to a year in jail.

"Boat owners need to take responsibility for their vessels if we are going to have any success at keeping these invasive species from spreading to our waters," Pleus said. "Recreational boaters and anglers should always carefully inspect and clean their boats and equipment before moving their vessels from one body of water to another."

For more information on zebra and quagga mussels, as well as other aquatic invasive species, visit WDFW's website.

Yellowstone 2 Yukon encounters opposition

The following email was received from Helen Cherullo, Publisher of Mountaineers Books. She warns of a movement to undermine the efforts of the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative. You can also view a summary of the Washington Senate Bill 5318, which supports the Y2Y movement.

There will be a hearing in Olympia on Wednesday, February 27 at 8 a.m. in House Hearing Room B in the John L. O'Brien Building.

-------Begin Email--------
Over the past two years we have worked extensively with Florian Schulz and the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative to educate and promote the Y2Y vision through his book "Yellowstone to Yukon: Freedom to Roam." Through his book, media, and public outreach efforts-- including an exhibit at the Burke Museum last year seen by over 45,000 people-- we hope to inspire a greater public understanding of this thoughtful and visionary plan.

Read the rest of this post...

Senate Bill 5318 will help preserve outdoor values for Washington citizens by promoting the collaboration between state agencies and the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative (Y2Y) in Washington’s portion of the Yellowstone to Yukon region. Y2Y works collaboratively with government, ranchers, farmers, hunters, anglers, Native Americans, researchers and non-government organizations to ensure that outdoor values and wildlife can be enjoyed by all for now and future generations. The vision for wildlife to move freely across the landscape is shared by Americans and Canadians alike, all along the mountainous spine of the continent. Senate Bill 5318 not only reflects the interests of the individuals from Washington who have supported the vision with over $20 million in ten years, but also fellow Americans across the country.

1) If you haven't done so, call your legislators and express your opinion on Y2Y. You can find out their contact information by plugging in your address/etc. at:

2) Call Cameron Duncan, 360-786-7144, staffer of the Agriculture
and Natural Resource Committee if you would like to testify regarding the bill;

3) The hearing will be at 8:00AM in House Hearing Room B in the
John L. O'Brien Building. You may want to get there early, as they're expecting a packed house;


PLEASE NOTE THAT THERE IS INTENSE OPPOSITION BEING MOBILIZED TO STRIKE DOWN SUPPORT FOR Y2Y-- manifest in the following email we received from Chuck Cushman of Land Rights:

"Y2Y will do great damage to ranchers, miners, forestry, farmers, and all kinds of other users. It would strangle rural communities with new regulations. A vast series of new series of land regulations will be imposed to control land use jeopardizing private property rights and economic growth.

This vast Eco-System land grab affects large portions of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.

If Y2Y passes into law in Washington, it will set the stage to pass it into law in the other states. People living in other states affected by Y2Y must get in touch with their legislators immediately and head Y2Y off.

It will likely be introduced in Congress.

You can make Y2Y less likely by killing it in Washington State now."


It is unfortunate to see this kind of fearful and misinformed backlash-- a complete misinterpretation of the Y2Y initiative.

Let's make Y2Y MORE likely by supporting it in Washington state now!

Helen Cherullo
-------End Email--------

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Art, Glaciers and Climate Change

with Maria Coryell-Martin, Expeditionary Artist
Jon Riedel, Geologist - North Cascades National Park
Wednesday, March 12, 2008 - 7 p.m.
The Mountaineers Building, 300 Third Ave W

Join us at the intersection of art and science. Mary Coryell-Martin is an expeditionary artist who has witnessed the effects of climate change in Greenland, Antarctica and the North Cascades. She will talk about how art compliments science as a means to observe and understand our surroundings. A series of her paintings and drawings will be on display.

Jon Reidel is a geologist with North Cascades National Park. He will discuss why glaciers are important, how they are monitored and what's been discovered about them, all in the context of climate change. Jon's talk is highlighted with images from the North Cascades showing the dramatic changes that have taken place in the last few decades.

This is a free show and all are welcome.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Wash. Dept. of Wildlife Discourages Winter Feeding of Wildlife

When the temperature drops and snow falls, many people want to feed deer and other wildlife. While the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) conducts winter feeding under certain conditions, the department generally discourages individual citizens from feeding deer, elk and other wildlife species.

The best way to help wild animals survive a severe winter is to maintain high-quality habitat plantings year-round. If animals go into the winter in good condition, most are able to survive persistent deep snow, ice and cold temperatures. Even in well-functioning natural ecosystems, however, some animals succumb during winter months. The winter season has always kept wildlife populations in balance with available habitat.

To read more about WDFW's recommendations on the winter feeding of animals, visit their website.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Coast cleanup date announced

Mountaineers interested in helping to clean up the coastline can now mark their spring calendar. The annual Washington Coast Cleanup will be held on April 26 this year.

Every year, volunteers from around the state set out on the Coast Cleanup day, and some over the weekend, to pick up debris from Washington’s coastline. Often, small groups of Mountaineers organize trips to the Olympic Coast on this day to help out.

Plastic water bottles, fishing nets, tires, and all kinds of other items harmful to the environment wash up on Washington’s beaches all year, creating the need to be removed before they cause irreparable damage to countless marine mammals, fi sh, plants, and birds. Last year, over 800 volunteers removed more than 25 tons of debris, according to Jan Clippert, who helps organize the event.

The annual cleanup is now the signature event of a new, year-round program called CoastSavers. The CoastSavers program is being coordinated and supported by the newly formed Washington Clean Coast Alliance, a dedicated group of nonprofits, community groups, tribal organizations, and government agencies all working together to help clean up Washington’sbeaches.

The Coast Cleanup now hosts a website on which volunteers may sign up to help: For more details about the overall event, contact program coordinator David Lindau,, 206-220-4279.

113 bulbs replaced with CFLs!

Though not glacial in porportion, the first effort to bring our club a step closer to carbon neutrality has represented a one-vehicle dent in the planet’s carbon imprint. Put in another context, it represents two acres of forest land spared.

The Mountaineers Conservation Division encouraged club members to convert to CFLs in a December Mountaineer article. Mountaineers responded by submitting their glowing reports: a total of 113 conversions.

Each CFL conversion amounts to about 160 pounds of CO2 otherwise released in a year, according to the Conservation Division’s volunteer energy quotient guru, Jim Adcock. An electrical engineer, Adcock notes that if all Mountaineers were using CFLs entirely in their homes, we could save the equivalent of 2,000 acres of forest. Help our planet go ultra-light by continuing the good deeds and remember to provide us your tally on last month’s carbon imprint entreaty: How many times have you chosen to either take alternative transportation or add a passenger to your vehicle during a regular routine?

Send us to carbon neutrality in breakneck speed. Just report your tally (without breaking your neck or a sweat) by sending an e-mail to, or via U.S. Postal Service carbon dispenser (if you must) and addressed to The Mountaineers, Attn: Carbon Imprint, 300 Third Ave. W., Seattle, WA 98119.

Land transfer program gets county’s okay

Originally published in the January 2008 issue of The Mountaineer.

Preservation advocates recently applauded a move by the Pierce County Council to protect rural land through an exchange with land developers.

The swap consists of allowing owners of farmland, timberland or open space in Pierce County to sell development rights to their land without having it actually developed. The developer purchasing the land earns credits that allow it to increase the density of its holdings in urban areas.

The transfer-of-development rights (TDR) was created to offset the county’s rate of farmland loss to other business development over the past 15 years. As the development value of farmland rises, farmers are increasingly more apt to sell. They rarely sell to other farmers because farmers can’t compete with bids from home or business developers.

Cascade Land Conservancy helped to draft the TDR. A 55-year member of The Mountaineers, Helen Engle, attended the council meeting when the TDR was approved. Engle said that three generations of advocates who have worked for legislation to protect rural lands were represented at the meeting. She started her advocacy at a very young age, she stated, “and now as a great-grandmother, I’m delighted to fi nally cheer the victory.”

Some members of the county council indicated that the program may have to be streamlined as it evolves in order to convince developers to participate and to make sure that cities allow for the increased density in their central districts. However, the council voted unanimously to enact the program.

Save gas, save the planet

Here are some ideas and measures that will contribute to lessening your automobile’s carbon load.

Buy a high MPG hybrid! Fill-ups will soon cost us $100.

Buy a fuel effi cient car that gets a combined gas mileage of at least 30 mpg.

Buy a smaller, lighter car (the Honda Insight is made of aluminum).Choose the smallest available engine.

Fuel waste is proportional to engine size.

Before you buy, review:,, and

Reduce your yearly mileage. The American average is 12,000 miles a year.

Plug in a passenger and double your effective gas mileage.

Ride a bus and get 1,000 mpg.

Turn off air conditioning and electric seat heaters.

Turn off daytime running lights; they have no proven effectiveness.

Use a bike or sneakers and leave the car in the garage.

Inflate your tires 10 percent above owner’s manual recommendations and then check them at least once a month with a locking dial pressure gauge. Do not rely on built-in sensors!

Use the lowest weight oil recommended in your car and change it regularly.

Avoid aggressive driving and aggressive drivers.

Take off the rack and the ski box when not using them.

Take the extra junk out of your car.

Use a manual transmission and try to keep your engine down to 1,000 rpm, 2,000 going up hills.

Drive as if you have a raw egg under your brake pedal.

Drive 5 mph slower—save 5 percent, and reduce your crash fatality risk threefold.

Make a shopping list and combine trips.

Do not idle for long—turn off your engine at long lights and for trains.

Do not use a higher grade gas than recommended by manufacturer.

Lobby your congressmen and political party for higher gas mileage standards!

Flex-fuel vehicles (and E85 ethanol gas) do not reduce global warming.

– Jim Adcock

Are we what we drive?

Originally published in the January 2008 issue of The Mountaineer.

By Jim Adcock
What’s the difference in capacity between a Prius, a large pickup, and a large SUV? Answer:Not much. Over 90 percent of the time each is carrying only one person down the road.

Global warming is caused by fossil fuels. The U.S., with 1/20th of the world’s population, consumes a third of the world’s oil. We consume oil at twice the per-person rate of the other developed nations and 15 times that of less developed nations. Our national fuel economy standards for cars and trucks are one-half that of other developed nations, including Europe, Japan and even China.

Read the rest of the post...

Do we love the planet, or are we loving the planet to death? Do we really need to drive an SUV to the trailhead, or can something smaller get us there? Two generations ago our predecessors were driving Model-T’s up to Mt. Rainier while getting better gas mileage thanthe average American vehicle gets today. One generation ago, Mountaineers were taking mass transit together to ski at Meany Lodge.

To avoid the worst effects of global warming and climate catastrophe, the Nobel Prize winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says we need to reduce fuel consumption by 2 percent a year. With the U.S. population growing 1 percent a year, this means we need to increase fuel economy by 3 percent a year. With an average car life of about 10 years, this means that cars we buy now need to be a third more fuel efficient than the cars we have purchased in the past. There is only one technology available today that can meet this requirement: hybrid vehicles.

Today there are only four high-performance hybrid vehicles available to U.S. consumers, but over the next decade there will be an explosion of new high-efficiency hybrids on the market. With global oil reserves becoming exhausted, and 20 million additional vehicles hitting the road each year, expect gas prices to continue to double about every six years. In essence, a vehicle purchased today will be facing $100 fill-ups during its lifetime.

In reducing greenhouse emissions from vehicles, basically only three things matter: 1) the mpg that the vehicle achieves; 2) how few miles a year the vehicle is driven; and 3) how many people share that ride. According to the EPA, the most fuel-efficient car in the world gets almost 13,000 mpg. Mater Dei High School students have built a car that gets over 1,300 mpg. Detroit is still selling consumers trucks and SUVs that get 13 mpg. In this essence, more than 99 percent of the energy you put in your tank is just going up in smoke.

So, in buying a new car, we need at least one-third better fuel economy. Previously we might have bought a car that gets 20 mpg. Now we need to buy cars that get 30 mpg. Unfortunately, the list of vehicles that achieve 30 mpg in America is very short: hybrids Prius, Civic, Camry and Altima, and the conventional Fit, Yaris and Corolla. There is oneSUV: the Ford Escape Hybrid. In Europe there are 2,000 models available with 30 mpg or more,and three dozen with the mpg of a Prius, but the U.S. government blocks their import.

There is one other unheralded but widely available technology that can be plugged into any car or truck to instantly double the fuel efficiency of that vehicle. It is called a “passenger.” Plug a passenger into the seat next to you and the vehicle has just doubled its efficiency. A Prius, for example has now doubled from 50 to 100 mpg per passenger—efficient enough to solve the IPCC’s long-term goals for personal transportation greenhouse gas reductions.

As a club we need to actively discourage single-occupancy vehicles to club events and outings. We need to courteously support and welcome those members who choose not to drive a vehicle. We need to support mass transit options. And as individual Mountaineers, we need to step up to the plate and make sure that our next vehicle gets at least 30 mpg.

This is a political problem, not a technical one, and can only be solved by writing to our representatives in Congress. Sen. Maria Cantwell is on the Senate Transportation Committee, which makes her a logical recipient for your letters and e-mails:

Jim Adcock is an electrical engineer and member of the Conservation Division of The Mountaineers.

Bill would repeal user fee law

A bill to repeal the authority of federal agencies to increase trail and wilderness access fees was introduced in early December by two Western lawmakers. If passed, it would reverse legislation passed in 2004 that authorized federal agencies, with the exception of the National Park Service, to increase fees for such access permits as the Northwest Forest Pass.

The 2004 law followed a fee demonstration program that set into force trailhead-access fees more than 10 years ago. The demo fee, which was repeatedly extended by Congress over the past decade, has fueled debates within the outdoors community over what is dubbed the “pay to play” rule.

The bill introduced by Sens. Max Baucus (D-Montana) and Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) would rescind the 2004 measure, formally known as the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act (FLREA), but also called the Recreation Access Tax, or RAT.

Baucus, a long-time critic of the fees, said the current system amounts to double taxation because “Americans already pay to use their public lands on April 15,” referring to federal income taxes.If passed, the Fee Repeal and Expanded Access Act of 2007 would reinstate legislation dating back to 1965 that limits the use of fees on public lands.

The creation of trailhead access fees has drawn guarded support by some outdoors and recreation groups such as The Mountaineers and adamant opposition from other groups such as Western Slope No-Fee Coalition, Wild Wilderness and Free Our Forests.

The Mountaineers adopted a policy statement in 2006, during the heat of the debate, that said the club “supports developing programs so that recreational users can contribute to the management of these treasured wild areas.” It cautioned, however, that the club “believes that the success of fee programs and the willingness of recreational users to pay fees depends upon how fees are implemented.”

Crapo argues that user fees “limit accessibility to those who can afford the cost and results in a pay-to-play system that is unacceptable.” However, both he and Baucus noted that lawmakers will have to fight to reallocate federal dollars to the trail and access system if the FLREA is repealed. Crapo said he “will continue to fight in Congress to make sure the funding needs of our public lands management agencies are met.”

Baucus said debates have flared up in communities across the West as fees began to rise after the 2004 bill was passed. He said he hopes the bill will help resolve those disputes. Kitty Benzar, president of the Western Slope No-Fee Coalition, hailed the bill. Baucus worked closely with Benzar as well as the late Robert Funkhouser in crafting the legislation.

Ski Area expansion to be discussed

Termed a "crossroads issue" by The Mountaineers Conservation Division chair, the proposed expansion of the Stevens Pass ski area will be discussed at a meeting on Wednesday, January 16, at club headquarters.

According to Conservation Chair Mike Shurgot, the expansion plans present issues and questions that cross conservation and recreation lines in the "most obvious ways."

Chester Marler, director of development at the ski area, will present the company's plans, which include new lifts and runs, at the meeting and will answer questions from the audience.

All Mountaineers, winter recreation enthusiasts and users of The Mountaineers' Stevens Lodge are urged to attend the meeting, which will begin at 7 p.m. The club's Conservation and Recreational Access Divisions will jointly sponsor the meeting.

Braided River broadens Mountaineers Books' scope

A new conservation imprint for The Mountaineers took shape in August when Mountaineers Books announced the launch of Braided River. The Books affiliate will use photography and essays to bring a fresh perspective to some of the key environmental issues facing western North America's wildest places, according to Publisher Helen Cherullo.

Braided River will extend the outreach of Mountaineers conservation and preservation titles by connecting its photographers, writers, environmental groups and the public, Cherullo noted. It will also forge partnerships with leading environmental organizations to build awareness and provide resources for individuals who support critical conservation efforts.

Mountaineers Books has already partnered with the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture to create exhibits based on three recent publications: "Yellowstone to Yukon," "The Last Polar Bear: Facing the Truth of a Warming World," and "Arctic Wings." Through Braided River, Mountaineers Books hopes to go beyond the printed pages, according to Cherullo, by teaming up with museums, presentations and lecture circuits that deal with key environmental issues of our time.

Inspired by the success of "Arctic National Wildlife Refuge: Seasons of Life and Land," an earlier Books title by Subankar Banerjee, Braided River was created to facilitate similar projects that create environmental awareness nationally.

Cherullo said that Braided River was chosen as a name to reflect the collaborative nature of the various projects. "A braided river consists of several intertwining branches, or braids, that crisscross a low-lying area of sandbars or riverbanks."

For more about the new Books entity, go to