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Friday, January 29, 2010

Notice: free public screening of The Irate Birdwatcher next week!

We're having a free public screening of The Irate Birdwatcher next week. It's sponsored by the Everett Mountaineers:  Wed, Feb 3 at 7 pm, at the First Congregational Church of Everett, 2624 Rockefeller. (Map)

The Irate Birdwatcher is a spectacular video presentation of North Cascades scenery accompanied by the words of the late Harvey Manning, lifetime member of N3C and famous author of conservation books and trail guides.

See our earlier post about this fantastic DVD, and plan to attend this free public screening, at which copies will be available for sale. Also N3C's Tom Hammond will give a short presentation on the American Alps initiative.

Here's a video of some excerpts:

If you can't make the screening and would like to buy a copy (or more) you can shop for it here:

Read more about the film at:

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Debris flows: a looming hazard for the Northwest

Debris flows, slurries of mud, gravel and rock, are a product of mountain erosion associated with glaciers. They are especially prevalent on volcanoes around the "Ring of Fire" that circles the Pacific that each hold great loads of volcanic debris high on their glacier-clad slopes.

Present-day debris flow dangers at Mt. Rainier were recently featured in a front page article by Sandi Doughton in the Seattle Times, based on an interview with Paul Kennard, a Park Service geologist. Here's a photo of the rocky mess at Rainier's Tahoma Creek, from The Times:
In the North Cascades, Mt. Baker and Glacier Peak are potential sources of damaging flows, and glacial retreat throughout the Cascades has laid bare huge quantities of glacial grindings so that accelerated transport to rivers must be expected.

The upcoming issue of The Wild Cascades will include more on this topic... Join N3C now to get your copy delivered to your home:

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Seattle Audubon Signs-On as Partner of American Alps

The Executive Committee of Seattle Audubon passed a resolution January 16th officially endorsing the American Alps Legacy Project, becoming our latest official Partner, featured on our Partners page! Welcome, friends!

The Western Wilderness Conference: April 8 – 11, 2010 at UC Berkeley

Western Wilderness Conference 2010 – April 8 – 11 
Don’t miss it!

Wilderness preservation has never been more important - or more possible. In the last 4 years, wilderness advocates have succeeded in establishing over 2 million acres of protected wilderness. Curious about what it takes to succeed on this scale and what new campaigns are moving forward right now? Come to the Western Wilderness Conference 2010 at UC Berkeley from April 8-11th 2010.

Sponsored by the California Wilderness Coalition, Sierra Club, The Wilderness Society, and numerous other organizations from all 13 western states, including Hawaii and Alaska, the Western Wilderness Conference 2010 highlights the theme of “The Role of Wild Lands in an era of Climate Change.” There’s a big emphasis on engaging young people in the effort to preserve wild places free from development. Come meet new allies and discover strategic tips to strengthen your own environmental campaign. Together we can preserve the wilderness.

Planning organizations include: Sierra Club, California Wilderness Coalition, Northwest Wilderness and Parks Conference The Wilderness Society, Great Old Broads for Wilderness, Desert Survivors, Audubon California, Tuleyome, Californians for Western Wilderness.

Visit the conference website, for information on speakers, program, outings, etc. And online registration: The early bird gets the worm. Or in this case, steep discounts. Register for the 2010 Western Wilderness Conference by the 1st of February and take advantage of the “early-bird” registration fee of $100 – which will go up to $160 in February.

Other questions? Contact Vicky Hoover (415) 977-5527,

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Stevens Pass Ski Area Growth Concerns

An Environmental Assessment (EA) for Phase 1 of the Master Development Plan (MDP) for the Stevens Pass Ski Area was released recently. We believe the overall expansion plan is harmful to the environment of the area, particularly because the pass area itself is a narrow wildlife corridor between the northern and southern halves of the North Cascades. There are major procedural problems as well. The EA is not the appropriate method for approving parts of a major expansion of a ski area into unroaded land. As N3C's letter to the Forest Service states in part:
[We] object to the use of an EA to obtain approval of the first in a series of many related projects at Stevens Pass.  The Forest Service used a Categorical Exemption to extend their special use permit for 40 years, based on “no change” in the use of the permit, despite already having received a draft of their MDP.  Then the Forest Service “accepts” their MDP without any public review; now the Forest Service starts approving projects one at a time through an EA process.
You can read the full text of this letter, jointly signed by N3C and the Alpine Lakes Protection Society (ALPS), in the forthcoming Winter issue of The Wild Cascades. Become a member of N3C to get your copy. Meanwhile, you can read the EA at, and submit your own comments on it to Or by mail to: 
Robert Iwamoto, Supervisor
Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest
2930 Wetmore Avenue, Suite 3A
Everett, Washington 98201

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Details of KCTS program 'North Cascades: People, Places and Stories' - Jan 17, 20, & 31

From our friends at North Cascades Institute:

North Cascades Institute on KCTS, Jan. 17, 20 and 31
Here's some exciting news about an upcoming TV special all about the North Cascades, including a story on our Mountain School program that was filmed at the Learning Center last fall!

KCTS 9 is proud to present the premiere of 'North Cascades: People, Places and Stories', a TV special showcasing the breathtaking park through the words and actions of Washingtonians of all ages. Airdates are Sunday, January 17, at 10:30 p.m., Wednesday, January 20, at 7:00 p.m. and Sunday, January 31, at 4:30 p.m.

KCTS 9 will also produce a Spanish-language version, which will air on V-Me on Saturdays, January 23 at 7:00 p.m. and January 30 at 7:30 p.m.

KCTS_mtnschool.jpgThree of the stories featured in this program are:

* A look at the North Cascade Institute's nationally recognized education program, Mountain School, where hands-on activities introduce hundreds of students each year to diverse ecosystems.
* A profile of legendary mountaineer Fred Beckey who has been climbing in the North Cascades for nearly seven decades, racking up more "first ascents" than any other climber in history. The 86-year-old is the author of the Beckey Guides, indispensable guidebooks for climbers and hikers exploring the backcountry. 
* The return of wolves to the North Cascades. Scientists and conservationists are tracking two wolf packs, one in the Methow area and the other near Republic. After being hunted to near extinction, the natural return of this iconic predator is exciting news for wildlife biologists -- and a cause of concern for ranchers.
Written and produced by Emmy Award-winner Doug Tolmie and hosted by KCTS 9's Enrique Cerna, "North Cascades: People, Places and Stories" provides an in-depth look at the region and its relationship to the community. More information at

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Impressions of the North Cascades: Essays about a Northwest Landscape

Impressions of the North Cascades: Essays about a Northwest Landscape, was out of print, resurrected by the "Espresso Book Machine!"

"'Espresso' books, steaming hot off the press"

They call it the Espresso Book Machine , but even the spiffy new Version 2.0 won't brew up a double latte.

It will, however, print a book for a fledgling poet or deliver an individual copy of War and Peace in less than the time it takes you to drink that latte.

Maybe it's the name, but the biggest concentration of the newest Espresso Book Machines is in the Puget Sound region, already in operation at Village Books in Bellingham and Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park, and coming this month to the University of Washington Bookstore. Oscar's Art Bookstore in Vancouver, B.C., will install an EBM this year as well.

Introduced commercially in 2007 at the New York Public Library, the EBM is the brainchild of publishing executive Jason Epstein and inventor Jeff Marsh, who formed On Demand Books to market the machines, a marriage of robotic binding machinery and a commercial copier. The unit takes less space than a pair of commercial bookshelves, but has the potential of printing from a menu of millions of titles.

It's another way for independent booksellers to stay alive in a market threatened by online retailers, big-box discounters and electronic books.

Both Robert Sindelar of Third Place Books and Chuck Robinson of Village Books see three primary markets for their EBMs: 1) either public-domain (out of copyright) books or copyrighted books with very limited or specialized audiences; 2) self-published books by amateur authors or writers with specialized subjects; and 3) specialized books they can publish using their own bookstores.

Sindelar, looking for a "signature book" to launch his enterprise, is reprinting copies of Arthur Denny's 1892 book, Pioneer Days on Puget Sound, long out of print. Robinson is printing and marketing Impressions of the North Cascades: Essays about a Northwest Landscape, out of print for several years, and The Birth, Death and Resurrection of Fairhaven, a collection of reminiscences by George Hunsby from the early 20th Century.

None of these three books is readily available in bookstores, although used copies exist if they can be found. All EBM editions will be available for the cost of a standard paperback.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Delayed Determination for the Reiter Foothills Forest Recreation Plan

SEPA Notification, Reiter Foothills Forest Recreation Plan
January 7,2010
Notice of Final Determination
"Reiter Foothills Recreation Plan"
SEPA File No. File No. 09-111001
The Department of Natural Resources issued a [X] Determination of Non-significance (DNS), [ ] Mitigated
Determination of Non-significance (MDNS), [ ] Modified DNS/I\4DNS on November 612009 for this proposal
under the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) and WAC 197-ll-340(2).
This threshold determination is herebv:
[ ] Retained.
[ ] Modified. Modifications to this threshold determination include the following:
[ ] Withdrawn. This threshold determination has been withdrawn due to the following:
[X] Delayed. A final threshold determination has been delayed due to the following:
Due to the large volume of comments the department has received regarding the plan, the department needs more time in order to properly respond to the comments.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

AFLC plans open houses to answer questions

Ellensburg Daily Record - Thursday, January 7, 2010 1:33 PM PST

AFLC plans open houses to answer questions

staff writer

CLE ELUM — The company hoping to develop a self-contained community on property it owns in the Teanaway has scheduled two open houses aimed at answering concerns about the plan.

The meetings are scheduled from noon to 6 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 14, at the Homestead Barbecue, 801 state Route 970 in Cle Elum and from noon to 6 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 19, at the Kittitas Room in the Hal Holmes Community Center, 209 N. Ruby St., Ellensburg.

Teanaway country in autumn

David Bowen, president of the American Forest Land Co. (AFLC), says the meetings aim both to provide information for the public and to give him a chance to hear first-hand the issues and concerns the public has about the proposed development. The company owns some 48,000 acres of what is largely timberland in the Teanaway.

Questions have swirled around the company’s plans for the area since Kittitas County began a sub-area planning process last summer at the request of the company. The process is intended to develop a long-term plan for the area’s future that respects both the area’s lifestyle and natural resources, including wildlife and wildlife habitat.

The sub-area planning process screeched to an abrupt halt in November when the Kittitas County Board of Commissioners temporarily suspended the effort after a member of the public claimed binders containing documents relating to the company’s previous plans for the area had gone missing from the county’s Community Development Services office. A police investigation ensued. The binders, which AFLC had gotten back from CDS after filing a written request last March, have been turned over to the police and then referred to the county Prosecutor’s Office.

Monday, January 4, 2010

The Low Country News

A series of short low-country hikes in the "off season" really helped relieve a bit of the Holiday stress last week. Some of my personal favorites are the Old Sauk, Frog Lake, Beaver Pond and White Chuck Bench trails, all a short drive up the Mountain Loop Highway from Darrington. This time I did part of Old Sauk, to have a look at the river with a dusting of snow, and the White Chuck Bench. Clouds were low and flurries had turned to drizzle, but it was good to go out in the deep green forest and have a look at the dramatic river channels.

With all the washouts up the White Chuck Road, we're limited to hiking the valley's lower reaches, but they have their own charm. The Bench trail traverses along the rim of a scarp left by the river as it cut a small canyon through what were probably a combination of glacial moraines and deposits left by ice-dammed periglacial lakes, typical of the lower reaches of the west-side Cascade Rivers at the end of the Pliestocene. The Bench trail in places also follows the remains of a typical logging railroad-bed from the early 1900s.

Low-elevation hikes are easily accessible in all but the worst winter weather, and are thus and important component to year-round recreation. Trails like these are planned for the lower-elevation portions of an expanded North Cascades National Park under the American Alps initiative, in places like the Skagit valley between Marblemount and Newhalem.

White Chuck River (click for full-sized image)