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.