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.