Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Climate Change Legislation: Opportunity to Speak Up

It’s really rather simple – human-powered outdoor pursuits need a healthy climate. If the climate is out of balance, then our favorite ways to enjoy the outdoors can go from being degraded to actually disappearing. The Outdoor Alliance, a coalition representing the human-powered outdoor recreation community, has just released a short film (view on YouTube) that bottom lines how our community intersects with this humongous issue. It also gives everyone a way to step-up and make a tangible difference in getting the climate back on track. Check out the film and take action here:

Thursday, October 15, 2009



The Washington Climbers Coalition (WCC) seeks to raise $300,000 to buy the Lower Town Wall and surrounding crags near Index, Washington. The Lower Town wall is Washingtons most famous crag and climbers have been climbing here for nearly fifty years; it is currently threatened with closure and even possible quarrying and we seek to preserve it as a climbing park. We also seek to upgrade the parking lot and install a toilet facility, two simple improvements that have long been sought by Index climbers. These actions will enhance the area and preserve climbing access while contributing to overall conservation efforts in the Skykomish Valley.

The Climbing.
The cliffs and crags surrounding the town of Index have long offered some of the best granite climbing in Washington. The Lower Town Wall is the gem of the area and has been touted as one of the best climbing crags in the United States. Several years ago the British climbing magazine Mountain declared it one of the top 10 crags in North America and it remains a vibrant hub for local and visiting climbers. The climbing is diverse in both difficulty and style and there is truly something for every rock climber at the Lower Town Wall and its satellite cliffs. This is the only year round granite climbing in the State.

Why Now?
In the early 1900's the quarry at Index literally helped to build the foundation of Seattle and rock quarried there was used in the construction of buildings throughout Puget Sound. Climbers discovered the Town Walls soon after quarry operations stopped and have enjoyed climbing there for 50 years. In March of 2009 the owner put up no trespassing signs because she was prepared to market the area to interested quarry operators. Seeking to prevent any quarrying and loss of climbing access, the Washington Climbers Coalition secured an option to purchase this property in May of 2009. We also obtained the owner's commitment to allow climbing to continue while we raise the money to buy her land.

It Will Be A Climbing Park Forever!
Forks of the Sky State Park presently contains other cliffs near the Lower Town Wall and park managers have been very supportive of rock climbing. We seek a legal agreement that will provide for permanent preservation and operation of the area as a climbing park and then we propose to turn the land over to State Parks. This scenic backdrop to the town of Index will be preserved and this outstanding crag will be saved.

See the WCC Site for how to donate and get involved! You can check this webpage for updates on the situation:

Friday, October 9, 2009

ACTION ALERT – Comment on the DNR Sustainable Recreation Work Group’s Preliminary Recommendations
Deadline – October 12

The Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Sustainable Recreation Work Group (SRWG) has completed their Preliminary Recommendations for funding and access for recreation on DNR lands.

The report was released on September, 28, 2009.

The initial press release said the report would be available on SRWG’s webpage on September 28, 2009 with a comment deadline of October 1. = 3 days!

Contacted about this unreasonable comment period, DNR blaimed a typo and quickly issued a second press release listing a two week comment deadline of October 12, 2009.

Public comments on the recommendations can also be made in the form of an online survey The deadline for completing this survey is also Monday, October 12th.

The trend on federal lands has been to decrease ORV trails and to establish policies in which ORVs are not allowed on trails unless specifically posted. DNR is taking the opposite approach: ORVs are allowed anywhere unless posted as prohibited. The problem with this of course is that the signs are used for target practice and/or torn down almost immediately after posted.

A particularly alarming aspect of the Sustainable Recreation Work Group’s preliminary recommendations is that they seem to signal that DNR is seriously considering allowing illegal trails to become incorporated into the designated DNR trail/road network. This sets a precedent that will encourage and reward new illegal trail creation (often forged in areas least suitable for motorized use) resulting in serious detrimental environmental impact.

All citizens of the state have a vested interest in the management of our state trust lands yet most people never even hear about these meetings, comment periods and surveys. Thus the relatively small number of ORV recreationists are continually over-represented.

Please take the time to fill out this online survey and help represent to DNR the many who enjoy non-motorized recreation and are concerned about environmental degradation on our public lands.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Addressing Forest Road Maintenance

Earlier this year the president signed the American Recovery and Reninvestment Act more commonly known as the legislation providing economic stimulus funding. Over the past couple months a number of projects have been announced on National Forest lands in Washington State that address the region's massive road maintenance backlog. As the forest service road network continues to unravel the impacts are felt by both recreational users, who desire access to public lands, and aquatic resources, that feel the impact of all that sediment which ends up in the rivers. With limited agency budgets the Forest Service has been stuck reacting to the problem and has not had the resources to address some of the known issues before disaster strikes. There are many examples of undersized culverts, bridges that have outlived their design life, and drainage problems that sit as time bombs waiting for the next season of storms. Addressing some of these problems on the front end could result in reduced impacts when the storms do come resulting in fewer interruptions to public access and reduced impacts to aquatic resources.

An old road on the Mt. Baker - Snoqualmie National Forest with significant drainage and culvert issues that need to be addressed.

Earlier this year representatives from the Outdoor Alliance met with Forest Service leadership to highlight opportunities and present perspectives from the outdoor recreation community (both Access Fund and American Whitewater conducted membership surveys to identify areas of interest). We are now starting to see how the funding will be distributed to different projects.

Throughout the region of Washington and Oregon $9 million will go towards road maintenance including structure replacement, improved drainage, and culvert replacement all in the name of improving long term integrity of the road network in a manner that also addresses ongoing impacts to the aquatic resources that suffer from poorly maintained roads.

In the Puget Sound Region another $5.6 million will be directed towards deferred road maintenance and road decommissioning. These projects will focus on longstanding maintenance issues on key transportation corridors while removing roads that have served their social and economic purposes. Many old roads that have not been drivable for many years and are no longer needed continue to have ongoing impacts to aquatic resources.

On the Gifford Pinchot National Forest $4.9 in projects have been identified that focus on forest bridge design and replacement. Bridges that now provide important access for recreational users were constructed over 50 years and have outlived their design life. This project will address access issues to trailheads on this forest.

On the Olympic National Forest $4.5 million will be directed to watershed projects with a focus on the South Fork Skokomish and Sol Duc watersheds. The projects will include decommissioning some roads and upgrading others. Work will include replacements of failing culverts with appropriately sized bridges which will reduce the risk of collapse, improve vehicle and visitor safety, and insure continued access to many miles of existing forest roads.

In addition to these projects there will also be a project to replace the single pane windows at the Olympia Forestry Sciences lab and a series of projects to repair and restore facilities used by the public on the Olympic National Forest.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Congress to Discuss Full Funding of Land and Water Conservation Fund

The House Natural Resources Committee, the committee with jurisdiction over public lands, will be holding a hearings this week on a bill that would fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund (HR 3534) at the authorized level of $900 million.

What is the Land and Water Conservation Fund?

The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) was established in 1965 to meet the nation's growing desire to preserve natural areas, culturally and historically significant landmarks, and outdoor recreational opportunities. Federal Outer Continental Shelf oil and gas leasing provides the revenue for LWCF--the concept is a simple one where extraction of resources we all use provides some revenue for important access and conservation projects on our nation's public lands. Unfortunately only a fraction of the intended revenue from these leases has gone into the fund with the balance being diverted to general funds for other purposes. In fact last year LWCF funding approached an all time low of $155 million. The proposed legislation in Congress would rectify this situation with full funding available each year, not subject to cuts in the annual appropriations process.

Why Is This Important For Outdoor Recreation?

If LWCF was fully funded, it would have a rather large positive and direct impact on organizations like The Mountaineers who depend on access to outdoor recreation and conservation of treasured landscapes on public lands. There would be 5 times the amount of federal money available to protect land and assure access to human-powered recreation. More trails, more river access, more crags, more backcountry skiing.

Since its creation, LWCF has made nearly 7 million acres of land available for outdoor recreation. The fund has helped to complete iconic American landscapes like Yosemite, the Grand Canyon, the Everglades, the Appalachian Trail, and Grand Teton National Park and here at home the North Cascades, Mt. Rainier, and Olympic National Parks have all benefitted from this program. In addition the fund has established close-to-home parks and recreation facilities providing new and improved recreation opportunities for all Americans. Washington is home to over 500 successful local, regional, state, and federal projects. The Duwamish River Trail, Green River Gorge Conservation Area and associated State Parks, mature forest lands in the Mt. Baker – Snoqualmie National Forest, lands along Icicle Creek in the Wenatchee National Forest, Green Lake Park, public access the White Salmon River, public shoreline access along Puget Sound, and Fort Worden State Park are just a few examples of public recreation lands in Washington that have received aid from LWCF.

Unfortunately the recent lack of funding has resulted in lost opportunities. In 2004 the State of Washington received only 5 percent of requested funds through the program and while we have enjoyed key successes, there have been a number of lost opportunities. For example key conservation opportunities along the White Salmon Wild and Scenic River were recently lost due to a lack of available LWCF.

Hearings this week by the House Natural Resources Committee are an important step towards realizing the full potential of this important program. Here in Washington State, Congressman Inslee is a key member of this committee and the the Mountaineers have joined other members of the outdoor recreation community in asking for the Congressman's leadership on this issue.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Thursday July 9, 2009, 7:00PM-9:00PM at The Mountaineers - "Crossroads on the Columbia"

The film Crossroads on the Columbia chronicles
a community’s response to private energy
investment companies’ proposals to build
controversial Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG)
receiving terminals on the lower Columbia River
near the historic town of Astoria, Oregon. The
passion and power of grass roots activism set
against the backdrop of the beauty, heritage
and history of the Columbia Pacific Region
make this a compelling story of America at the
crossroads of fossil fuel dependence,
renewable energy and decisions over who
controls our air, water and economy.

After the film, join Dan Serres, Conservation Director of
Columbia Riverkeeper, to discuss the details of
LNG projects targeted for our region. Learn about
the impacts of importation terminals and pipelines
to our forests, rivers, and communities and how
you can take action and join the movement:

• LNG projects would drastically increase
Washington’s greenhouse gas emissions

• LNG competes with a clean, renewable
energy future

• Cowlitz Co. WA is threatened with pipeline
development that could use eminent

July 10, 2009 - Ice Caves Trail on Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest Reopens

Help celebrate the opening of the Ice Caves Trail Bridge with a ribbon cutting ceremony. Washed out by floods in 2006, the bridge accesses one of the most popular trails on the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.

When: FRIDAY, JULY 10, 2009 at 10:00AM.

Where: 25 miles east of Granite Falls along the Mountain Loop Scenic Byway, park at the Big Four Picnic Area lot. Overflow parking available half mile up the senic byway at the Ice Caves Trailhead. Follow connector trail back to the Big Four Picnic Area.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Saturday July 11th - Team Up with the North Cascades Conservation Council for a Plant Restoration Day at Diablo Lake Overlook

Join the volunteer work party to help restore a native plant community at the Diablo Lake Overlook on State Route 20. Volunteers and National Park Service staff will remove non-native invasive plants in the morning and collect seed from native plants in the area in the afternoon. We will plant some of the seed where they have pulled weedy species and some will be propagated in the park nursery for future use.

Plan to camp at Newhalem Creek Campground for the NCCC-sponsored evening program (see below). A group campsite has been reserved for volunteers. Please RSVP by email to:, or call 360-733-7014.

July 11, Saturday – Evening program on NCNP Newhalem Creek Campground Amphitheater Slide program on the “Wilderness Alps.” Come hear the story of how North Cascades National Park came to be — as told by some of those who were there in the 1950s and 1960s working to create the new park. Presented by the NCCC.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

June is National Rivers Month!

June is National Rivers Month! American Rivers is presenting their popular "National River CleanupTM Program" again this year. If you would like to participate, you can find an American Rivers sponsored cleanup event near you by linking to the American Rivers website here

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Kick Off of the Completion of North Cascades National Park Campaign held at The Mountaineers May 15th

Check out the front page Seattle Times article on the American Alps Legacy Campaign to complete North Cascades National Park here

Sign Up to Conduct Invasive Plant Surveys in the Middle Fork Snoqualmie Valley

Do you like to hike and look at plants? Would you like to help stop the spread of invasive plants into one of the most pristine wilderness areas in King County? If so, we welcome you to join our team of weed watchers looking for invasives in the Middle Fork Snoqualmie Valley.

Volunteers are needed to survey trails throughout the Mid Fork Valley from Mt. Si to Dutch Miller Gap in the heart of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. By finding the new invaders early, we are able to quickly move to stop them and protect the relatively pristine upper watershed. To do this, we need many eyes out there on the trails watching for invaders. It helps to know common northwest plants, but we will train you to identify the key invasives, so you don't need to be an expert to be a weed watcher.

To find out more about the Mid Fork Snoqualmie Invasive Weed Project, visit our website here and read past reports about what we have done. (We may also expand the project to selected Wilderness trails along the South Fork.)

To join our team, come to an orientation meeting and practice day of surveying on Sunday, June 14, 2009. We will meet at the Snoqualmie Ranger Station in North Bend at 9:00 a.m in the meeting room behind the main building. After a short meeting and weed ID workshop, we will head up the Middle Fork Road to get some hands on practice surveying for invasive weeds and pick our trails for summer surveys. We should be back to North Bend by 5:00 p.m. or earlier.

For more information or to sign up, please contact Mark Boyar ( or Sasha Shaw ( or 206-263-6468).

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Global Warming a Threat to Human Health: EPA Hearing in Seattle May 21st

The EPA is holding hearings on the threat to human health posed by global warming in only two cities. Seattle is one of them.

Stopping global warming isn’t just a challenge, it’s a huge opportunity. It’s an opportunity for us to be at our best – Americans have proven time and again that given a chance, we’ve got the ingenuity and grit to tackle just about anything.

On May 21st Seattle will host one of only two EPA public hearings in the entire country. The EPA is seeking public input on their decision that global warming pollution is a threat to human health, the first step in establishing new rules to reduce global warming pollution.

A broad base of conservation, recreation, business and faith groups are planning a big rally outside the hearing, because it’s time for all of us to say with one strong voice: It’s time to tackle climate change!

Rally for Climate, Clean Energy, and Public Health

When: Thursday, May 21st at Noon
Where: Outside of Bell Harbor Convention Center, 2211 Alaskan Way, Pier 66, Seattle Waterfront
Who: Washingtonians who want action on climate change

There is power in numbers and that’s why we need YOU to be there
We need to make it crystal clear to our state and national leaders: the people of Washington want bold action on climate change! Washington is being given a huge opportunity to impact our country’s global warming policies.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

American Alps presentation on May 15th, 2009

Dear Mountaineers:
I just want to remind all about the American Alps presentation at the clubhouse at 6:00 PM, Friday, May 15th, 2009. Leesa Wright has worked for many months with Jim Davis of the North Cascades Conservation Council (NC3) on proposals to expand North Cascades National Park, and this gathering will give all Mountaineers members an opportunity to hear about Jim's proposals and hear concerned and informative speakers, including the P-I's Joel Connelly, discuss the importance of expanding the park's boundaries. The Mountaineers has a long and distinguished history of working to establish our national parks in Washigton State, and this meeting will continue that tradition.

Hope to see all of you there!


Michael Shurgot

CEC Chair

Thursday, May 7, 2009

The Dam Issue

The Mountaineers has a history, over a decade old, of supporting removal of the 4 Lower Snake River Dams for the purpose of restoring and protecting wild salmon runs.

This, itself, has been an issue for nearly 2 decades, and fell dormant under the Bush administration. Hopes rose again last January and recent judicial decisions (see Ed Henderson's piece in the April magazine, page 4), while not specifically supporting Dam removal, have certainly pointed the finger at the Feds, and specifically the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) to get their act together to protect the fish.

I suspect nearly all Mountaineer Members are perfectly aware of the historical and cultural importance of the Columbia-Snake river basin salmon runs, which once were the greatest in the world, and logically would support any efforts to help the Endangered Species Act (ESA) protection of salmon in the Snake/Columbia.

The trouble is, questions are being raised, under the spectre of Global Warming, and while no one is "against" protecting the salmon, one could rightfully wonder what impact dam removal would have on the twin spires of CO2: energy and transportation.

Investigating the impacts of damn removal involves immersion into a morass of bureaucratic alphabet soup, the details of which I will spare you here. What matters, as usual, are numbers But first, history, courtesy of Ed:

"The dams were originally built, in the 60's & 70"s, to supply power to DOE/DOD at Hanford to make nuclear weapons. The local booster group "Inland Empire" in Eastern Washington wanted them for barge transportation. RR's already existed there, but they weren't government subsitdized. Only one dam, Ice Harbor, the lowest down the river, provides irrigation for some 35,000+/- acres. In the scheme of things that ain't much.
The Mountaineers and many other group's objections to the dams are based on saving salmon. Global warming/climate change didn't enter into the conversation over ten years ago. Advocacy groups such as NW Energy and SOS Believe that the power lost can and should be replaced by conservation and renewables.

The 4 dams are rated at a maximum output of 3,000-3,7000 megawatts, which is a phantom number because they are really only capable of producing 1250-1400 MW, because they are "run of the river" dams with little or no storage capacity in their reservoirs, which also means maximum power potential is during the spring, when electricity demand is low.

(Its worth pointing out that the 1250-1400 MW the dams can provide is about that which the state's only coal-fired power plant, in Centralia provides, at the cost of 16% of the entire states CO2 emissions. This isn't to suggest the lost potential from the dams is necessarily going to be made up by coal, its just meant to offer perspective.)

Another thing the dams provide is a deep water port in Lewiston, and barge traffic down river to Portland is made up of 85% agricultural products, primarily wheat and barley (for export, or course)., The idea would be to replace this with rail traffic (all subsidized, of course) but the obvious concern is what impact this all might have on increasing the CO2-emmissions inefficient truck traffic factor.

Getting back to the Power issue, It's worth pointing out that the area, primarily the Columbia Gorge, is ripe for wind power. The BPA has a nice brochure on wind power, and there is certainly the potential to make up for the 4 Dams.

these are from the BPA, so take them for what they are worth!
BPA factsheet (pdf)
Federal Columbia River Power System brochure

Navigational Concerns paper from UW (no info on CO2 impacts)

Wolves delisted...

... now what? Lawsuits? Wolf Hunts? Not much has happened yet.
Washington post article
read about Idaho wolf management:

The Curious Case of Peter Goldmark

Follow the bouncing ball: This next one is a bit complex, so I can't go into much detail here. It Involves the Forests and Fish Report (FFR) and the Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP), which regulates and covers forest practices on Non-Federal lands in Washington, and affects 9 million acres and 60-100,00 miles of streams in the state. The issue at hand here regards stream buffers, which had been festering for 5 years.

In a meeting of the Forest Practices Board (FPB) on March 30th, State Lands Commissioner Peter Goldmark surprised many when he sided with the timber industry in a 7-5 vote - AGAINST the enviros -- to have taxpayers pay the industry for the cost of additional compliance. This was much to the chagrin of other state departments, and the Attorney General, and the Conservation Caucus and Washington Forest Law Center (WFLC).

This move was partially resolved through legislative action, thanks to a "full court press" by the enviros, led by the WFLC. In the meantime, in early to mid April, two emergency FPB sessions were convened to deal with the fallout from the bomb that Goldmark dropped.

Another FPB meeting has been set for later this month to decide the buffer issue that was originally to take place March 30th. Three options have been proposed, one of which is bad (option #3), another is worse (#2), and the third (option #1) is acceptable to the Caucus. Now its a matter of getting the votes, which won't be easy, seeing as how 5 almost always got with industry. At this point, it appears that Option #3 appears to be most likely to win. As usual, these options involve all manner of specious to credible interpretations of economic impact and "good science."

This is all incredibly disappointing to enviros, who are sensibly feeling betrayed by the "Trojan Horse" actions of Goldmark, who was narrowly elected last November thanks to the very people he seems to be turning his back on now.

Dyche Kinder, CEC member and a member of the WFLC (link to WA Forest law Center website explaining the Caucus) is heavily involved in this ongoing issue and is reporting regularly on developments to the CEC. Stay Tuned!

Ken Salazar on Daily Show

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar will be on the Daily Show tonight, 11:00 pm on Comedy Central... and before you pooh-pooh the appearance, keep in mind that John Stewart has become about the most credible interviewer of political, economic, and socially controversial figures on TV (this from a guy who hosts a fake news show and is a comedian by trade, what that says about the state of 24-hour TV news is up to your interpretation!). Set your DVR' s if you're not a night owl, or check out the interview when it gets posted to the Daily Show website as soon as it airs.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Wolf Bauer Recognized for Leadership in Protecting the Green River Gorge

This past weekend Mountaineers were well represented at a gathering of approximately 500 passionate advocates for the Green River who recognized Wolf Bauer and his leadership in protecting the Green River Gorge.

The occasion was the 24th Annual Green River Clean-Up an event organized by Friends of the Green in which the Mountaineers have participated for many years. At the conclusion of the clean-up the lodge at Flaming Geyser State Park was renamed in Wolf's honor.

Wolf Bauer, now 97 years old, came out for the day and presented a slide show of his early explorations of river canyons in Washington State and his first journey into the Green River Gorge.

Wolf's work is recognized in state statute which in part states:

The area, a unique recreational attraction with more than one million seven hundred thousand people living within an hour's driving time, is presently used by hikers, geologists, fishermen, kayakers and canoeists, picnickers and swimmers, and those seeking the solitude offered by this unique area... A twelve mile strip incorporating the visual basins of the Green River from the Kummer bridge to Palmer needs to be acquired and developed as a conservation area to preserve this unique area for the recreational needs of the region. RCW 79A.05.700

Mountaineers on the river.

Squeezing a raft through the Nozzle, one of the most challenging rapids on the river.

Wolf honored by State Parks as the lodge at Flaming Geyser is renamed in his honor.

Tom Steinburn tells stories of the first kayak trip down the Green River Gorge, an exploratory first descent more than 50 years ago that took the group 2 days but now takes experienced paddlers only a few hours.

Mountaineers Trustee Lynn Hyde with Wolf. Lynn's biography of Wolf titled Crags, Eddies & Riprap will be coming out soon.

State Parks Commissioner Joan Thomas, climbing legend Lou Wittaker, and Middle Green River Coalition Executive Director Lisa Parsons.

King County Council Member Larry Phillips came out to address the group. As Chair of the Growth Management Committee, Larry Phillips sponsored the motion to endorse the "Green River Gorge Mountains to Valley Greenway" which was subsequently passed by the County Council in a unanimous vote. The Mountaineers has joined the coalition to support this project which is currently being coordinated with the assistance of the National Parks Service Rivers and Trails Program.

Mountaineers Recreation Access Chair Fran Troje with State Parks Commissioner Joan Thomas.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Gary Snyder-"The Practice of the Wild"

On this Earth Day, 2009 I want first to thank Leesa Wright and Jake Reeder, a new and very active member of CEC, for their timely posts today. They remind us of the complex conservation work that we at CEC engage in every day, and their work from now on will keep all Mountaineers members aware of developments on the most important conservation issues of our day, especially in Washington State.

Second, I'd like to post a short paragraph from an essay by Gary Snyder called "On the Path, Off the Trail" from his book The Practice of the Wild. Snyder writes:

"Our skills and works are but tiny reflections of the wild world that is innately

and loosely orderly. There is nothing like stepping away from the road and

heading into a new part of the watershed. Not for the sake of newness, but for

the sense of coming home to our whole terrain. 'Off the Trail' is another name

for the Way, and sauntering off the trail is the practice of the wild. That is also

where--paradoxically--we do our best work. But we need trails and paths and

will always be maintaining them. You must first be on the path, before you can

turn and walk into the wild."

Snyder explains that "Way," derived from the Taoist Dao De Jing, means "way, road, trail, or to lead/follow," and "the nature and way of truth." We can walk off the trail to find the wilderness that we have not seen before, as when we summit a mountain, but we also need paths and trails to lead us to understand our place within that wilderness and what we have to do to preserve it--and ourselves within it. So on this Earth Day, let us all ponder for a moment the Way we are following as we try to learn how to walk gently in the wilderness we love.

Kind regards,

Mike Shurgot

CEC Chair

Happy Earth Day

Happy Earth Day, everyone. I'm Jake, your latest blogger, and I hope to regularly post at least every Wednesday with news and notes from the latest developments in the Conservation fight, amongst the Mountaineers and anything I may find interesting in the paper, on TV, or on the internet. without further ado, lets get the ball rolling:

Raging River preservation fills "donut hole" in I-90 Greenway (link to Seattle Times)

Recently brought to the attention of the CEC is the impending wolf slaughter in Idaho. The de-listing of Idaho and Montana Grey Wolves was approved by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, a decision based largely on what Salazar called "good science," and an apparent endorsement of wolf management at the state level (Wyoming wolves are still protected). It hardly inspires confidence in conservationists when the Governor of Idaho, C.L. "Butch" Otter proclaims he would like to be the first person to kill a wolf when the hunt opens. Idaho's Dept. of Fish and Game will target 26 packs, and the de-listing is scheduled to take effect May 4th.

plenty has been written and editorialized, here is but a sampling:
NY Times, April 12th
Daily Camera (Boulder CO) April 14th
Idaho Statesmen April 15th

The sad reality is that, without federal protection, there seems to be very little standing in the way of Wolves being hunted to near extinction, just as they were before they were re-introduced to the Northern Rockies in '95/'96

Lastly, there is, of course, some "good news" on the front of Climate Change as a result of human activity, as much as such a thing can exist concerning this 900-pound gorilla that haunts seemingly every aspect of modern industrialized civilization. The EPA has officially ruled that Greenhouse Gases are a "threat to human health and the environment." Although to most eco-/enviro-conscious folks, such a decision at this late a stage may seem strangely naive, it nonetheless represents a huge leap forward in allowing the EPA to mandate reductions in CO2 and other Greenhouse pollutants (such as methane and Nitrous oxide). Getting Federal, state, and local governments to recognize greenhouse gasses as a pollutant, just as PCBs and Lead, will be a major battle victory in the war against Global Warming.
Seattle Times Article, April 18th
This originally aired last night:
Frontline: Poisoned Waters
Only about a third of this deals with Puget Sound and Western WA, and the conclusions are already evident to most eco-/enviro-conscious people, but it is excellent viewing. You can watch it from the website or set your DVR's to record the re-air on Sat, April 25th and 2:00 am, on KCTS 9 (109 Comcast digital in HD)

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Press Conference Held on Proposed Additions to the Alpine Lakes Wilderness

Mountaineers Recreation Resources Division chair Tom O'Keefe speaks at a press conference held by Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Representative Dave Reichert (R-Wash.) on completion of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness (photo by Harry Romberg).

On Friday, April 10th, Senator Patty Murray and Representative Dave Reichert announced at Three Forks Park that they are co-sponsoring a bill "The Alpine Lakes Wilderness Additions and Pratt and Middle Fork Snoqualmie Rivers Protection Act" (S. 721 and H.R. 1769) to complete the Alpine Lakes Wilderness.

This bi-cameral legislation will help protect some of the most gorgeous and accessible backcountry (located less than an hour from a major metropolitan area) anywhere in the country. The proposal includes adding 22,000 acres to the exisiting Alpine Lakes Wilderness as well as protecting 30 miles of Middle Fork Snoqualmie River and 10 miles of the Pratt River under Wild and Scenic designation.

“The Alpine Lakes Wilderness connects the wildlands between Snoqualmie, Stevens and Blewett passes,” said John Chelminiak, North Cascades Initiative Director for The Wilderness Society. “This legislation preserves key recreation opportunities for more than three million people in the region, improves wildlife habitat and enhances our communities by protecting two river corridors. Future generations will look back on this measure as one of the most significant in our efforts to ensure the future of Washington’s remaining wildlands for our children and grandchildren.”

Stay tuned here and in the Mountaineer for updates as this exciting piece of legislation progresses through the House and Senate.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Highway Crews Clearing Winter Snow from SR - 20 in the North Cascades

The annual rite of spring of clearing 37 miles of Highway 20 in the North Cascades began in earnest on March 30th. Every spring Washington State Department of Transportation(WSDOT) crews work the highway with snow plows and blowers---one crew from the east, one from the west---until they reach Washington Pass at 5,477 feet. Crews usually make it to the pass in early May, however this year's heavy snows may delay the effort. WSDOT crews have their own website set up where those itching to get to their favorite North Cascades spot can track their progress.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Nominate your Favorite Local Environmental Hero for The Trust for Public Land "Cox Conserves Heroes Award"

the Trust for Public Land is searching for candidates to be recognized for their conservation efforts in Western Washington State.

Launched in 2008 by The Trust for Public Land and Cox Enterprises, Cox Conserves Heroes is a nationwide awards program created to honor conservation in everyday life. The program celebrates individuals who take it upon themselves to create, preserve, or enhance the shared environment, making our communities better places to live.

Nominees will be featured on KIRO-7! Winners, chosen by public vote, will receive up to $5,000 for their favorite environmental nonprofit organization. Nominations must be received by 5 p.m. PST on Friday, May 1, 2009.

If you could forward this to anyone who might know of candidates within the Washington environmental community it would be greatly appreciated.

To nominate someone click nomination page.

This Year's Washington Coastal Cleanup is Saturday April 18th !

It is time for this year's Washington Coastal Cleanup on Saturday, April 18, 2009. NPCA will once again be leading a volunteer group to the Olympic National Park for a day of cleaning up the coast and camping (if you want!).

If you would like to camp, we will be camping at the Kalaloch Campground in the southwest corner of Olympic National Park (for free!) on Friday, April 17th and participating in the cleanup on the 18th. We will finish the cleanup in the afternoon, which will be followed by a cookout with all the volunteers. Afterwards, you are welcome to head home or stay another night, free of charge, at the beautiful beach side campground at Kalaloch. Last year we had no rain and a beautiful day on the beach. However, the year before we had non-stop rain, so come prepared for all types of weather!

To join the group and get the details, please contact David at or (206) 902-1444, ext.25.

The Case for Wild & Scenic River Designation for The Middle Fork Snoqualmie and Pratt River

Whitewater rafting on the Middle Fork Snoqualmie River (c/o Tom O’Keefe)

Few rivers anywhere in the country can match the quality of recreational, scenic, and ecological resources provided by the Middle Fork Snoqualmie and its major tributary, the Pratt River.

Whether it's a quiet fishing trip after work, a day out with friends on some of the most outstanding whitewater the region has to offer, or a weekend with the family in one of the most scenic river valleys in the country, these rivers are tremendous resources for our community. They are also an important source for clean water that sustains the culturally and biologically-significant fishery resources of the Snohomish River system.

Wild and Scenic River designation will ensure that the Middle Fork Snoqualmie and Pratt Rivers are forever protected – securing important habitat for fish and wildlife, protecting a quality recreational experience for current and future generations, and celebrating the community-based stewardship efforts that have resulted in the Middle Fork Snoqualmie valley being one of King County’s greatest natural assets.

Recommended for Protection

In 1990, the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) recommended the Middle Fork Snoqualmie and Pratt Rivers to Congress for Wild and Scenic designation, noting their outstanding, regionally-significant recreation, fisheries, wildlife, geological and ecological values and “very high public support” for designation.

Benefits of Wild & Scenic Designation

• Protects the river’s free-flowing character, water quality and outstanding values

• Promotes river-friendly land use practices

• Protects important fish and wildlife habitat

• Protects existing, compatible uses of the river corridor including the quality of the recreational experience

• Promotes natural flood protection by protecting and restoring wetlands and floodplains, and by protecting a river’s natural flow and meandering channel

• Enhances the local community’s civic awareness and pride by having a nationally-recognized river in their backyard

What Designation Will Do

• Prohibit dams and other water projects that impair the free-flow of a river or its outstanding values.

• Establish a protected corridor extending ¼ mile from the high-water mark on both sides of the river.

• Encourage partnerships among landowners, river users, tribal nations and all levels of government to protect the river’s outstanding values.

• Bring river stakeholders together in a collaborative process to develop a river management plan, to be completed within three years of designation.

What designation Will Not Do

The Wild and Scenic Rivers Act carries no authority to affect the zoning of private lands. At one time much of the Middle Fork and Pratt River valleys were privately owned, but today only a few small in- holdings remain along the Middle Fork Snoqualmie; all of the Pratt River is now in public ownership.

Volunteer to Install Remote Wildlife Cameras!

I Spy…A Grizzly!

North Cascades grizzlies are so rare they’re known as “ghost bears.” Take part in efforts to save grizzlies, wolves, lynx and other rare species by joining a wildlife camera team!

RSVP here to attend a training, learn more about this volunteer opportunity and join a Wildlife Camera Team!

Help spread the word. Forward this message on to friends in the area who might be interested in helping.

Defenders of Wildlife is teaming up with Conservation Northwest for a second time this year to help document the presence of rare species like grizzlies, wolves, lynx and wolverines in the Cascades -- and you can help!

Last year, one of the camera teams caught the first Washington wolves on tape!
Don't miss out on this great opportunity to get your hands dirty for Washington wildlife this year. Join the Wildlife Volunteer Corps and be a part of an exciting camera monitoring project this spring and summer.

There are two trainings coming up next week in Seattle on Tuesday, April 7th and in Bellingham on Thursday, April 9th -- and we hope you'll be able to join us! RSVP now to let us know you're planning to attend. Volunteers will help track the presence of wildlife in the North Cascades by installing remote cameras and monitoring the footage these cameras capture each month.

Here’s a short description of the volunteer positions we’re looking to fill with caring wildlife supporters like you:

Grizzly Camera Teams
These camera teams will be active from April to June and then will resume activity from July-October in the East, West and North Cascades. Volunteers will need backcountry hiking skills and many of these locations will require overnight trips.

Wolverine Camera Teams
These teams will be working at four locations in the North Cascades to capture footage of the rare and elusive wolverine.

Pacific Fisher Camera Teams
These teams will be working with the North Cascades National Park, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Olympic National Forest to monitor Pacific fishers that were just released into the wild as part of the current recovery plan. This project will involve longer, steeper hikes on the Olympic Peninsula.

I-90 Camera Teams
There are a few positions left for projects on Amabalis Mountain and Mount Margaret, just east of Snoqualmie Pass. Both projects involve moderate day hiking.

Space is limited, so please RSVP today!

© Copyright 2009 Defenders of Wildlife.
Defenders of Wildlife is a national, nonprofit membership organization dedicated to the protection of all native wild animals and plants in their natural communities.
Defenders of Wildlife can be contacted at:
1130 17th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20036

Monday, March 30, 2009

Senator Murray, Congressman Reichert Introduce Alpine Lakes Wilderness and River Protection Legislation

On March 26th, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and Congressman Dave Reichert (WA-08), joined by Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Washington State Congressman Jay Inslee (WA-01), Brian Baird (WA-03), Adam Smith (WA-05), and Jim McDermott (WA-07) introduced legislation in the Senate and House that would expand the Alpine Lakes Wilderness Area and designate both the Pratt and Middle Fork Snoqualmie Rivers as Wild and Scenic. The Alpine Lakes Additions and Pratt and Middle Fork Snoqualmie Rivers Protection Act will expand the existing wilderness by over 22,000 acres to include important lower-elevation lands and complete watersheds.

Stay tuned for developments in the House and Senate.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Dear Mountaineers:

We have important news on two wilderness issues.

First, I am pleased to announce that the Senate and House of Representatives have now passed the Omnibus Lands Bill which sets aside two million acres of new wilderness in the United States. Washington State senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell worked to pass this legislation, as did several members of the state's House delegation.

Second, For several months The Mountaineers Public Policy Associate Leesa Wright has been working closely with Jim Davis of American Alps to promote a plan to expand significantly the boundaries of North Cascades National Park. In the tradition of legendary members of the Mountaineers Conservation Committee Polly Dyer and Norm Winn, who have worked for decades on establishing national parks, including NCNP, and The Mountaineers are now part of a new coalition working with Jim Davis to expand the park. The Conservation Committee would therefore like to invite all Mountaineers members to a presentation on the American Alps project on Friday, May 15th, 2009 at the Magnuson Clubhouse from 6:00 to 8:30 PM. Guest speakers will be noted naturalist author Art Davidson, author of Edge of the Earth, Corner of the Sky (with Art Wolfe); and P-I correspondent and wilderness advocate Joel Connelly. This will be an important event that all lovers of wilderness should attend, and it continues the Mountaineers long association with wilderness causes in our region. Join us!


Michael Shurgot

CEC Chair

Friday, March 20, 2009

Senate Bill 5840 to Slash Voter Approved Clean Energy Goals

In 2006 Washington State voters passed Initiative 937 which set the goal of obtaining 15% of our energy from new, clean, renewable energy sources by 2020. Reportedly at the urging of some utilities and business interests, Chris Marr D-Spokane, introduced Senate Bill 5840, which would essentially repeal the goals set in I-937, in February of this year. SB 5840 passed in the Senate on March 10th.

Now it moves on to the house with a public hearing before the House Committee on Technology, Energy and Communications scheduled in Olympia for March 25th at 8:00AM, at the John L. O'Brien Building, Hearing Room B.

Have Fun in the Dark During Earth Hour - March 28th from 6:30-9:30PM

Earth Hour: Meet like-minded people & be part of this historic event! On the evening of March 28, 2009 people all over the world will turn off unnecessary lights from 8:30-9:30PM for Earth Hour - a global event to show how much energy we can save by just turning out the lights. Each one of us, working together, can make a positive impact on climate change and bird migration…

Join the Sierra Club at the Seattle REI flagship store, upstairs auditorium (222 Yale Ave N) for a forum on the power of turning out the lights. We will have a variety of experts, from University of Washington astronomers to Audubon wildlife experts on hand to discuss the impact of light pollution and steps we all can take. Q&A time, plus lovely snacks & beverages provided!

The following panel of experts will lead a forum from 6:30 to 8:30pm explaining the power and importance of the simple act of turning out unnecessary lights:

Professor Woodruff T. Sullivan III, UW Department of Astronomy and David W. Ingram, Dark Sky Northwest, a Chapter of the International Dark Sky Association. They will show satellite images documenting light pollution from space & demonstrate street and other lighting solutions that use less electricity and do not contribute to night sky glow.

Katherine L. Jope National Park Ranger will document how city lights and increased air pollution are encroaching on what should be our pristine National Parks. In many parks even the Milky Way cannot be seen. The National Parks Conservation Association is a major participant.

Matt Mega Conservation Director of the Seattle Audubon Society joins the panel. Audubon has long decried the millions of song birds killed each year, disoriented by flying into tall office buildings whose lights are left on all night when the offices are essentially unoccupied

Dan Ritzman, Northwest Director of the Sierra Club’s Coal Campaign will document the greenhouse gas emitted and dollars it costs consumers to generate electricity for unnecessary Lights.

Ed Smalley, Supervisor, Seattle City Light will provide an overview of their Conservation program for reducing industrial, commercial, retail and residential electricity usage in general and lighting in particular including an upcoming trial of LED (Light Emitting Diodes) overhead street lights that have a very long life time, use much less power than any other illuminant and produce a downward focused beam minimizing night sky glow.

Mike Mann, Acting Director, City of Seattle Office of Sustainability and Environment will also talk about city plans for energy conservation.

People are invited to bring cameras to take pictures of Seattle ’s skyline before and after the lights go out.

Learn more about Earth Hour here.

Two excellent background references on this subject are:

Questions or to volunteer at this event contact: Art Kaufman 206-985-9489

Thursday, March 19, 2009

DNR Planning Process for Reiter Foothills Coming to an End

Photo by Karl Forsgaard

Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is winding down its recreation planning committee meetings for the Reiter Foothills area near Gold Bar. The planning committee was charged with making recommendations to DNR for a mix of motorized and non-motorized recreation opportunities based on the land suitability criteria of geology and soil, biological and trust management objectives.

The year-long session of meetings will come to a close with the final meeting on April 22nd at the Snohomish County Parks Administration Building at 6705 Puget Park Drive in Snohomish, Washington.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

March Conservation Meeting and Current Issues

This month's March Conservation Executive Committee meeting will be at 7 pm, Wednesday, March 18th. This meeting is open to all, newcomers welcome! If you are interested in finding out more about what you can do to help preserve the environment, halt global warming, protect endangered species, and so forth, please join us.

The committee is working on several issues related to sustainable forestry practices, climate change, and the potential ecological and physical hazards that may accompany the opening up of National Parks trails to mountain bikes. See below for details.

• Forest Coalition Meeting: The Forest Group discussed a recent proposal by U.S. Senator Ron Wyden, D-Ore. According to his website, “The Wyden proposal, called the Oregon Forest Restoration and Old Growth Protection Act, halts cutting of trees currently 120 years old and older in moist forests and 150 years old or older in dry forests, prohibits clear-cutting and cutting in inventoried roadless areas, and requires the Forest Service and BLM in Oregon to re-direct their management activities to addressing fire and insect risk, protecting environmentally-sensitive and significant lands, and promoting sustainable, ecologically-sound production of wood fiber in a way that produces many more good-paying jobs while living up to the original promise of the Northwest Forest Plan. “

However, this plan proposes an increase in board feet output volume while demand for timber products is low, puts politics ahead of science-based forest management, and separates Oregon out from states with similar forest environments such as Washington and northern California, which also contain habitats for some of the same keystone species, such as the spotted owl. The loss of a “keystone species” can have a dramatically negative impact on the surrounding ecosystem, just as the loss of a keystone from an arch causes it to collapse.

• Coal-fired power plants: Ed Henderson and Jim Adcock have taken responsibility for drafting a policy letter on coal-fired power plants before Lobby Day. A bill for greenhouse gases is currently up for debate which would establish a permit process, or cap and trade, for industries that emit greenhouse gases.

• Fire Suppression Policy: Some members of the committee are working on developing a policy position on fire suppression on public lands.

• Use of Mountain Bikes in National Parks: Reed Jarvis, Pacific Northwest Region Chief Ranger (Retired), gave a presentation on the potential environmental and physical hazards of a recent proposed change from the Department of the Interior which would allow mountain bikes on the same National Parks trails used by hikers.

Monday, February 16, 2009

February Conservation Meeting

Dear Mountaineers:
The Conservation Executive Committee will meet this Wednesday, February 18th, at 7:00 PM in the Magnuson clubhouse. We will feature a guest speaker, Mr. Reed Jarvis, formerly of the National Parks Service, who will address the issue of proposed mountain bike trails in the National Parks. All Mountaineers members are always welcome to attend our meetings. Come join us!


Mike Shurgot

CEC Chair

Friday, January 23, 2009

January Meeting + Wildlife/Forest Issues

Dear Mountaineers:
The Conservation Executive Committee (CEC) held its January meeting on the 21st, and I am pleased to announce that we had four guests who are interested in becoming active members of the CEC: Sarah Owens, Sandy Bowman, Jessie Dye, and Greg Barnhouse. Greg has volunteered to work as communications issues for the CEC, which will greatly help us keen connected wwith the club membership. We also welcomed Peter Teigen, who is a graduate student in the Evans School at the UW. Peter will be working with the CEC as an intern as part of his graduate work at the UW. We are honored by Peter's willingness to work with the CEC and the Mountaineers.
The CEC is likely to take action on two important issues in the next few weeks. Gov. Palin of Alaska has sued the Fish & Wildlife Service over the agency's listing of the Beluga Whale as endangered. CEC member Dyche Kinder is drafting a letter to Gov. Palin that the CEC will likely approve and ask President Eric Linxweiler to sign. The CEC has a long history of work on wildlife issues in Alaska, so a letter on whales should be within the parameter of our previous wildlife issues. The other issue is signing on to a letter about the workings of the state's forest management at the Department of Ecology (DOE). The Environmental Caucus seeks our support for a letter to the new Public Lands Commissioner, Peter Goldmark, about some forest practices of the DOE and the conduct of its meetings where important forest decisions are made.
The next CEC meeting is Wednesday, February 18Th at the clubhouse at 7 PM. Join us!
Michael Shurgot

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Dear Mountaineers:

As chair of the Mountaineers Conservation Executive Committee I want to welcome you to a blog that Leesa Wright, our Public Policy Associate, and I hope to update frequently. We will post minutes of the CEC meetings, as well as news about the conservation division's activities and ways that you can join us to advance our conservation agenda.

For beginners, the next open meeting of the CEC will be Wednesday, Feb. 18th at the Magnuson clubhouse at 7 PM. All members of the Mountaineers are welcome to join us. Contact me at mwshurgot@earthlink for an agenda. You may contact Leesa for information about the conservation activities at Please also see every month in The Mountaineer the section "Conservation Currents," which contains essays by CEC members on recent conservation issues and information on how you can get involved.