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Friday, June 26, 2015

Disturbing the Peace

Action Alert

Disturbing the Peace
One of the scarcest commodities in today's world is quiet. We go to Wilderness to find it. That's one reason why The Wilderness Act, now in its 51st year, mandates nothing motorized within designated Wilderness. It's part of what defines Wilderness.

So we wanted to warn you. Not about ATVs, dirt bikes or other "recreationists," this time. No, it turns out we have to warn you aboutr the Federal agency charged with managing and preserving the highest state of protection of nature on American soil: the overlay of Wilderness and National Park. The National Park Service, who we trust to manage our scarce remaining resource of quiet Wilderness in the core of the North Cascades, has informed us they plan to be running helicopters into two prime areas inside North Cascades National Park 
(NOCA) - the Park Creek drainage, a tributary of the Stehekin River in the south unit of the Park, and Copper Ridge, high country on the west side of the north unit, all on July 1. 

That's next Wednesday. So if you planned to be hiking in either of those areas then, you'll want to change your plans or prepare to be presented with the opening soundtrack of Apocalypse Now. Think that sort of thing is inappropriate in Wilderness? So do we.Please feel free to call the North Cascades National Park offices at 360-854-7200 and tell them your opinion of such things.

In the past, crews with horses did the same work, fixing trails and campsites. Now, somehow, a helicopter has become what NOCA considers the "minimum tool" for the job. Why? Best to ask them yourself. The answers we were given were not very satisfactory, maybe they'll do a better job explaining it to you - and your calls may help discourage them from using them without taking formal public input. You can read more about the situation in the upcoming issue of NCCC's journal, The Wild Cascades, which mails-out next week.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Announcing the PNW Conservation Film Festival - Apr 17, 2015

Just got word that there's a Conservation Film Fest coming up soon at the UW!
Here's the Facebook page:
April 17, 5pm, Kane Hall at UW,
 $10 donation at the door. Here's the program:

Black Ice (Drilling for oil in the Russian Arctic) When the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise set sail to protest the first ever oil drilling in the Arctic Ocean, none of the people on board could have known what was coming to their lives.

Return of the River (Removal of the Elwha dams on the Olympic Peninsula) Over 100 years ago, dams were built on the Elwha River to provide electricity for the Northern Olympic Peninsula. When the dams went up, the salmon, the life sustainer for the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe, the salmon could not. See the inspiring story of how the dams came down.

Gwich'in Women Speak (Gwich’in Women talk about their lives and their dependence on Arctic nature). The Gwich’in People have lived in the Arctic for thousands of years. Their women talk about the importance of the Arctic Coastal Plain and nature is to their lives.

If Wilderness Could SpeakOlympic Wilderness (features the sights & sounds of Olympic National Park) This films shows what you can see, hear, and experience in Olympic National Park wilderness.

The Meaning of Wild (shows the values & beauty of the Tongass wilderness in SE Alaska) The Tongass National Forest runs up most of the SE Alaska panhandle. You see its coastal border from the “Inside Passage.”

Monday, March 30, 2015

Chris Morgan supports grizzly recovery

Our "Beartrek" friend Chris Morgan wanted us to pass along his comments in support of the Grizzly Bear Recovery DEIS for the North Cascades:

I emigrated to the USA in 1997. Part of the appeal of this amazing country is something that many people here take for granted - it's WILDNESS. When I hike the mountains of my native home in the UK, there is something missing. Grizzly bears have not walked those hills for one thousand years. And with them went all sense of wildness. The window of opportunity to restore some of our wild planet has long been closed in most parts of the world. But it is different in Washington State. Here, the window is still open, and it is a moment in time we should grasp with pride and excitement. The grizzly bear will sit atop a suite of majestic carnivores that STILL call this home - wolves, lynx, mountain lions, black bears, wolverine….

But it's clear that the tiny number of grizzly bears thought to exist in the North Cascades can't recover without active help in the form of augmentation. The history of this most successful and historically widespread of the bear species shows that with a little support, recovery should be not only possible, but widely beneficial in so many ways. Their ecological and cultural roles are clear, but their economic, and spiritual roles should also be considered. Our future depends upon the types of wild places that grizzly bears represent. 

I've been fortunate enough to work on bear research, education, and conservation projects all over the world for the last 25 years. In 1994 and 1995 I captured, radio-collared and tracked grizzly bears by foot for 2000 miles over 2 seasons in the Canadian Rockies, learning from them as I went. I only saw a handful. Since then I've spent thousands of hours among grizzly bears in Alaska, and I've been lucky enough to escort some wonderful people to enjoy them first hand.
But my proudest work has been here with the creation of the Grizzly Bear Outreach Project (now Western Wildlife Outreach). We have worked since 2001 to bring an accurate understanding about grizzly bears and recovery to local communities of the North Cascades - in close partnership with state and federal agencies, and with the IGBC. But most importantly, with local community members. And wherever we go we find a very high level of support for grizzly bear recovery. Our rigorous polls tell us that local people think bears are an essential component of the North Cascades ecosystem (81% agree), that they were here before humans and have an inherent right to live here (76% agree), that they should be preserved for future generations (86% agree). 79% said they support recovery. The vast majority STRONGLY agreed with these statements. 

It's unfortunate that the vocal minority opposed to grizzly bear recovery muddies the water with inaccuracies and myth - something that the grizzly bear has faced since the days of Lewis and Clark. The economics also speak for themselves. Studies in Yellowstone have shown that people flock to the place to see grizzly bears - they are THE prime reward. The presence of grizzly bears there results in 155 local jobs and $10M per year injected into local communities. Research shows that people would pay even MORE than they already do to enter the park if they were guaranteed to see a griz. 

My work as a TV host for PBS, BBC, National Geographic allows me the privilege of sharing the wonders of the wild with people, and the grizzly bear holds a special place in viewers' minds. Our films about them have held audiences of many millions captive all over the world. For good reason it seems. People find them irresistible and fascinating. In fact, it is VERY difficult for a reasonable person to argue that grizzly bears are a bad thing. The facts speak for themselves. But grizzly bears are wild animals, and CAN be dangerous - many people fear them for this reason. We should not shy from the truth, but merely place it in context, and treat people's opinions with respect and consideration. 

I'm clearly an advocate for the wild, and for me the grizzly bear is the clearest manifestation of wilderness alive in the world today. But I'm also pragmatic and fair. Steps towards recovery have to be open, transparent, communicated well, inclusive, and with consideration for those who might be at first deny the benefits of bear recovery. Social science has proven that effective programs are based on fairness, familiarity, and control - when stakeholders feel that they are being treated fairly, have access to knowledge to increase familiarity, AND feel that they have a sense of control in matters, then much can be accomplished. Education and outreach should be given the highest possible priority as a result. Not just teaching passive audiences, but engaging active communities in the process - buy-in will be key, and will result in true benefits for all. Outreach can help stakeholders and communities move with the recovery process, checking off practical and emotional needs along the way like the need for information on safety and sanitation, ecology and behavior, and the recovery process itself. Time is on our side to do this right, and open communication is key.

But beyond the practical considerations, grizzly bears keep a part of us close to nature. They represent the things we all need - clean air, fresh water, intact natural resources. Like us, they are demanding - but they are also our best ally on a rapidly developing planet. The restoration of this unique grizzly bear population represents a golden opportunity for bears, for conservation, for our world. Let's show the rest of the world that this corner of the United States is ready to do something special, and huge for the natural world that we owe so much.  

Whether we are ever lucky enough to see one or not, just knowing they are out there is a powerful tonic in a world that needs a little more nature. They teach us about ourselves, keep us humble, and are a part of our wild west heritage - perhaps THE most vivid part imaginable. If you don't believe me, just take a hike in the Scottish Highlands. 

Chris Morgan, MS Ecology
Ecologist, Conservationist, bear specialist
TV Host/Film Producer

Thursday, March 12, 2015

The Wild Cascades, Winter 14-15, will arrive in members' mailboxes soon!

Here's a preview of the new issue of The Wild Cascades, coming soon to members' mailboxes and online in a few weeks. Want your copy hot off the press? Join NCCC!

Index-Galena road fix price escalates — Rick McGuire
Thinning proposed at Deception Pass and Dugualla State Parks — Dave Fluharty
Sustainable roads — the next steps — Ed Henderson
NCCC Actions, July 2014 – February 2015
Yakima Plan update — Karl Forsgaard
Public can’t afford to subsidize new water projects — John Osborn and Ken Hammond, The Spokane Spokesman-Review
Pratt River Valley and environs now in Alpine Lakes Wilderness — Rick McGuire
The original “starfish”
A rough winter for glaciers — Tom Hammond
Mother Nature, not the National Park Service, closed the Stehekin Road — Dave Fluharty and Carolyn McConnell
Driving to Stehekin — Ed Henderson
New dams and diversions — Rachel Paschal Osborn
Okanogan-Wenatchee Travel Management update — Karl Forsgaard
North Cascades grizzly bear EIS process launched
Morning Star additions and Reiter connections — Mike Town
The Corvid’s eye
Board members, Park managers discuss helicopters near Cascade Pass
Polly Dyer birthday
Holden Mine remediation to continue at least one more summer

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Public meetings on North Cascades grizzly bears announced

Conservation groups call for a show of support for restoring a Northwest native

Today, Feb 13th, the National Park Service, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) announced the official start of a public process to plan for the restoration of a grizzly bear population in Washington’s North Cascades Ecosystem.

Conservation groups were thrilled that the announcement, part of the Grizzly Bear Restoration
Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) process for the North Cascades Ecosystem, marks the first formal step in the recovery of an important native species on the brink of disappearing in the Pacific Northwest. Public engagement is the next step in a three-year process that the agencies announced in August of 2014.

A public comment period will be open through March 26, 2015. Comments can be made during a series of open houses, online at, or via regular mail or hand delivery at: Superintendent’s Office, North Cascades National Park Service Complex, 810 State Route 20, Sedro Woolley, WA 98284.

The public open houses will be held at:
  • Tuesday, March 3rd in Winthrop from 5-7:30 p.m. at the Red Barn Upper Meeting Room
  • Wednesday, March 4th in Okanogan from 5-7:30 p.m. at the Okanogan PUD Meeting Room
  • Thursday, March 5th in Wenatchee from 6-8:30 p.m. at the Chelan County PUD Auditorium
  • Monday, March 9th in Cle Elum from 5-7:30 p.m. at the Putnam Centennial Center Meeting Room
  • Tuesday, March 10th in Seattle from 5-7:30 p.m. at the Seattle Pacific University Bertona, Classroom 1
  • Wednesday, March 11th in Bellingham from 5-7:30 p.m. in the Bellingham Central Library Lecture Room
Conservation organizations such as NCCC urge the public to attend these meetings and share their support for restoring this vital native species!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

"Creating Ideal Trails" in The Mountaineer

"In the last issue, in our column Trail Talk, we ran an article about the overcrowding of trails. In this issue, we are giving two members of the North Cascades Conservation Council (NCCC) a chance to respond. Like all of our articles, the opinions expressed in these columns are those of the authors, and do not necessarily represent views of The Mountaineers. With that, we are excited to encourage fellow members of the outdoor community to discuss and even debate their views (in a friendly fashion of course). After all, the wild nearby is not just something that we explore once in a while. It’s a place in our hearts that we cherish, love and protect."

Read the article by NCCC's Ed Henderson and Rick McGuire by clicking HERE.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

"The Wild Nearby" book's companion website

The North Cascades: Finding Beauty and Renewal in the Wild Nearby from Braided River has a companion website, with links to conservation and other proposals for the area. The website is -check it out!

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