Follow by Email

Friday, August 14, 2015

NCI and NCCC featured in Seattle Times

Ron Judd writes about NCI and NCCC in the Seattle Times:

"The first thing students do after unpacking their bags as the learning center is to take a stroll over to the top of massive Diablo Dam, where a shaky-kneed glance over the side is all it takes to be impressed by the immensity the canyon in which they stand - and the similar scale of what man has wrought here.

"We want to teach them about their role as human animals/ how they affect ecosystems," says Chris Kiser, the Mountain School's program coordinator.

"Some of that ethic can be traced to the group's roots: Among the early cheerleaders of NCI were members of the North Cascades Conservation Council, the prime pushers for establishment of North Cascades National Park in 1968.  These were not fringe, lawsuit-happy environmentalists.  They were old-school, Northwest greenies who supported the Harvey Manning/Mountaineers notion that wild. public lands are best saved by getting people into them -- preferably by a means no more complicated than a Vibram sole, mind you.  the idea was to build multi-generational-constitutencies to protect them.

"This legacy has, in many ways, been passed to NCI where it shines brightly from its Diablo Lake treed cathedral."

Friday, July 24, 2015

         The WILD Cascades

        Spring-Summer 2015 issue will be online soon!

         Monte Cristo count down 
Overpopulation here at home 
Letter to NPS director regarding Stehekin Valley road
Park Service helicopters confirmed in Mather Wilderness this summer 
Chris Morgan: Yes, please, grizzly bears
Return to Del Campo 
American Alps update: Why establlish a National Preserve in the North Cascades?
Cascade Rambles: Green River and Charley Creek 
The Corvid’s eye
Remembering Bonnie Phillips 
A scientist’s emotional evaluation of the “winter” past 

Here's an excerpt from this issue's "Corvid's Eye" column:
By the time the corvid first met Bonnie Phillips in the waning years of the 20th century, her days of rugged exploration through the Northwest wilds and beyond were already long past. Bonnie’s younger years, as she related, were not without their considerable montane accomplishments. Her travels through the thick of enveloping forests and thin of rarified alpine air changed her, shaped her as they have done to so many of us. Bonnie continued to draw from these early experiences for the remainder of her recently completed life – the great majority of which was devoted to a hyper-charged conservation ethic and corresponding, relentless activism on behalf of our public forests...

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Block Military Helicopters from Alpine Lakes Wilderness and vicinity of PCT

Scoping Comments Needed by July 30
The Department of the Army has a Scoping Document out now for public comment that proposes a number of high-altitude sites on the east side of the North Cascades for helicopter landing training. One of the sites is within the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, even though the 1964 Wilderness Act prohibits aircraft landings in Wilderness! Another site is adjacent to the PCT!

U.S. Army Training
Army plans to use North Cascades for dangerous helicopter training. Source: THC News
Please send a quick email to the Army opposing these sites. Use your own words, but try to include the following points:
1. Site MTA 1-4 (the proposed site within the Alpine Lakes Wilderness) must be removed from further consideration, since it lies within a designated Wilderness. The Wilderness Act prohibits the landing of aircraft in Wilderness.
2. Azurite (Pk) site MTA 1-6: if it’s adopted the chances of the Liberty Bell/Sawtooth Roadless Areas gaining park or wilderness status dwindle. Furthermore it is critical mountain goat habitat.  Finally, it's proximity to the Pacific Crest Trail would eliminate the character of the area and compromise the visits/experiences of citizens at this highly utilized resource.
3. Further environmental review for this project must thoroughly analyze noise and other impacts on any Wildernesses or National Parks near the other proposed helicopter landings.
4. Any military training exercise – by air, on land, installing instrumentation, etc. – within designated Wilderness is inappropriate and should be prohibited.
5. The Army should follow FAA guidelines to protect Wilderness by keeping overflights at least 2,000-feet above ground level.
Here's how to submit your comments:
Put “JBLM Off-base Helicopter Training” in the subject line and email your comments by July 30 to:
Also send a copy to the Okanogan-Wenatchee Forest Supervisor Mike Williams:

Here are links to some recent news articles about this:

And Here's the link to the Scoping Document:

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Help Stop the Disastrous Mountain Loop Highway Clearcut!

Help Stop the Disastrous Mountain Loop Highway Clearcut!

The 13 mile dirt road segment of the Mountain Loop Highway between Barlow Pass and the White Chuck Road (south of Darrington) is an iconic drive through old growth and “near old growth” forest. There is nothing like it elsewhere in the North Cascade Mountains, perhaps not in the rest of the US.

Forest slated for clearcutting alongside Mountain Loop Hwy 
The US Forest Service now proposes a virtual clearcut along that road segment, removing over a million board feet of trees, allegedly to create better views of the surrounding mountains. All deciduous trees within 30 feet of either side of the ditch line along the road would be removed, along with all conifer trees less than 26 inches in diameter. The proposal, if implemented, would decimate that unique forest experience, replacing it with an 80 feet wide clearcut, with a few large trees dotted within the gutted forest.  

That forest was once old growth throughout its length. It is now slowly returning to what it was before logging removed most of it a century ago, with much of it already almost indistinguishable from old growth forest. If left alone, it will fully return to its former majesty. 

Your letters are needed to US Forest Service ranger Phyllis Reed at to express your opposition. Please send your letters as soon as possible.

In today’s world, the USFS must be at the forefront of fighting human caused global warming. Research shows that preserving trees, not removing them, is one of the best ways to accomplish that goal via carbon sequestration of trees. The plan must be stopped immediately. And if the Forest Service continues to pursue this bad idea, please tell Ms. Reed in your letter that it must issue a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) rather than a glossed-over Environmental Assessment (EA) to fully reveal all aspects of this project, including the carbon impacts of the tree removal.

Again, Please write to to express your opposition to tree removal along the dirt road section of the Mountain Loop Highway. 

Official information released by the Forest Service on the project can be found on their web site under Mountain Loop Vegetation and Road Management at:

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