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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Reminder: IBW on KCTS tomorrow night!

The Irate Birdwatcher airs tomorrow night on KCTS9 Seattle!

Air: Thursday, April 1, 10:30 pm on KCTS 9 HDSeattle/Yakima

Future Airs: 04/05/10, 4:30 am KCTS 9 HDSeattle/Yakima; 04/05/10, 4:30 am KYVE 47Yakima; 04/11/10, 6:00 pm KCTS 9 HDSeattle/Yakima; 04/11/10, 6:00 pm KYVE 47Yakima

This is a documentary about wilderness preservation and Harvey Manning, the legendary Northwest writer and conservationist. In the early 1960s Manning (using the pen name the "Irate Birdwatcher") became the voice of a band of dedicated hikers and climbers who spearheaded the grassroots movement bringing us the North Cascades National Park, as well as other designated wilderness areas in Washington. The film features inspiring words taken from the many writings Manning authored over the years, unveiling the beauty of Washington's wildest places and the need to fight for their very survival.

Run Time: 00:26:08

Note: this is a shortened version of the original full hour video. The FULL DVD is also for sale!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

IATC officially supports American Alps!

The Issaquah Alps Trails Club has officially signed on as a supporter of American Alps Legacy Project! We're very excited and happy to have them on-board.

While IATC is primarily focused on the I-90 corridor and surrounding mountains, the connection through Harvey Manning is strong--after all, Harvey came up with the name and concept of the "Issaquah Alps"! As well, it is important to view our North Cascades as an integrated whole--wildlife connectivity from British Columbia to Oregon is maintained by/through the Cascade Range, and what happens with conservation efforts on the upper Skagit and Methow Rivers does matter to conservation efforts on the Snoqualmie...

Saturday, March 27, 2010

From the Othello Cranefest

N3C's American Alps table was getting good interest today at the Othello Sandhill Crane Festival in central Washington. Here are a couple of photos of the scene, one before the doors opened this morning and one after! Also there's a pic of this year's festival poster.
One visitor said he climbed the Northern Pickets before the Park - and would look forward to supporting AmAlps.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Friday, March 26, 2010

Latest eNewsletter now online - Wild and Scenic River Celebration!

Download our latest eNewsletter by clicking HERE. Inside:
  • American Alps project status report
  • N3C Membership drive
  • Reiter Foothills achievement report
  • Wild and Scenic River Celebration announcement*
  • The blog report
*N3C is joining American Rivers, American Whitewater, and other organizations to explore opportunities for Wild & Scenic River designation in Washington. This exciting event will be held on April 15th from 6:00 to 9:00 at the Mountaineers Building in Seattle. Beer, wine, and light refreshments will be served. The event will include an exploration of possible W&S rivers and streams in the American Alps Legacy proposal. Learn what you can do to help protect these beautiful rivers and streams. RSVP to

    Thursday, March 25, 2010

    What's N3C been doing all these years?

    A document from the early 90s just surfaced from the archives. It's a great summary of the epic struggles that N3C has engaged in to save the Cascades. And not just the area where NCNP is today... some areas we've strived to protect may surprise you. To start with, N3C got the Glacier Peak Wilderness designated BEFORE The Wilderness Act! Not just interesting trivia -- it's proof of how we've been "ahead of the game" all along. Here are some thumbnails... click the images or the links  under them to view them full-screen.

    The question mark in the lower-right corner of the upper image IS the American Alps Legacy Project!

    Wednesday, March 24, 2010

    Wolf Conservation Gets a Boost

    The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) has been struggling with how to respond to the slow, but inevitable movement of wolves into Washington. To say it is controversial would be an understatement. Most ranchers and hunters have no use at all for wolves. Most conservationists and wildlife lovers think we should do everything possible to bring them back. I, of course, am in the latter group. The big debate is over how large the wolf population should be in Washington. Should it be eight breeding pairs (about 60-70 wolves) as the ranchers and hunters think? Or should it be much much higher as the conservationists claim. WDFW tried to resolve this controversy by bringing together a citizen panel to negotiate a number acceptable to all. This group came up with 15 breeding pairs (about 110-130 wolves) as a compromise conservation target for the state. Uhhh... not much better than eight breeding pairs. One would think that conservation science could and should serve as the fair arbiter of this debate and not negotiations between conflicting stakeholder groups. Unfortunately, good science has largely been absent from the debate between stakeholder groups. WDFW has taken the right step to seek out a scientific review of the wolf conservation plan. You can read the results yourself by clicking on scientific review. Most of the science reviewers found the 15 breeding pairs goal to be way too low. Suggestions for a more appropriate number ranged from about 25-30 breeding pairs (more than 200 wolves) up to 600+ wolves. It is clear that more focused state specific conservation biology research is needed before WDFW sets a conservation goal. Let's hope WDFW bites the bullet and lets science determine wolf conservation goals. I fear they may ask ranchers and hunters to assess the validity of the scientific review findings. Hmmmm....
    Stay tuned. More to follow.

    Tuesday, March 23, 2010

    Introducing our Facebook page

    Thanks to the help of some members of the Climbing Club at UW, American Alps has a page on Facebook!
    Click HERE to check it out, become a "fan" if you're on Facebook, and tell us "what's on your mind!"

    Monday, March 22, 2010

    The passing of a conservation giant

    Stewart Udall, Secretary of the Interior under presidents JF Kennedy and LB Johnson, passed away Saturday at age 90. It is unusual, and indeed strange, to refer to a cabinet member of the federal government as a "conservation giant", but that's what Secretary Udall was.

    He was a thinking man, connected to the planet in meaningful ways, and this was reflected in his leadership at the Department of the Interior. Secretary Udall was directly involved and helped with the creation of North Cascades National Park (among many things). Harvey Manning and the NCCC wrote this of Udall in the book "Wilderness Alps Conservation and Conflict in Washington's North Cascades":

    "The more distinct turning point [for conservation in the United States] occurred when [President Kennedy] appointed Arizona Congressman Stewart L. Udall as his Secretary of the Interior." ... " In the backing of the [1964] Wilderness Bill, three national seashores, and Redwoods National Park, [Udall] established himself as the greatest interior secretary since FDR's "Old Curmudgeon" Harold Ickes."

    Indeed, Secretary Udall invited NCCC chairman (and current American Alps participant) Patrick Goldsworthy on a tour of Mount Rainier National Park, and while on that tour, assured Goldsworthy that THERE WOULD BE A NORTH CASCADES NATIONAL PARK. This was in 1961, and the park was created in 1968. Now, in 2010, we're trying to complete that vision of an integrated, eco-system oriented North Cascades National Park.

    I highly recommend reading "Wilderness Alps: Conservation and Conflict in Washington's North Cascades"--there is an amazing amount of information on the conservation history of this area, much of it is still pertinent and helpful to this very day, as we try to secure a way of life now, and for generations to come.
    Thank you Secretary Udall!

    -Tom Hammond

    Sunday, March 21, 2010

    Hiking the "American Alps" just outside North Cascades National Park

    Seattle Times article from September, '08, reveals the story of a spectacular trip along the PCT in the big area southeast of Ross Lake that's unprotected now... "left out" of North Cascades National Park!

    If you've ever hiked through Golden Horn country, you, too will be astonished to know it was left out of the Park!

    Its neighborhood is so classy: A national park lies just three miles to the south; a wilderness area borders it to the north. So why is it, some people wonder, that the land next door, which contains one of the state's most dramatic sections of the Pacific Crest Trail, carries no similar handle-with-care designation? The views will likely have your heart singing and your brain wondering how anyone could think such dazzling scenes don't belong in a national park.
    JOIN US to secure permanent protection for this scenic wonder! It's our generation's clarion call! "Just say NO" to logging and mining in this natural paradise!

    One last day of winter silence from Ross Dam to Silver Star

    This just in from WSDOT:

    Hi all,

    Just thought you'd like to know that everything is set for the reopening to begin on Monday.  Expect an update on Monday's progress as early as I can get it to you on Tuesday. 

    In the meantime, I've sent some pictures of the Kodiak Snow blower that I took yesterday afternoon, as the mechanics got finished with it and loaded it on the low boy for the trip to Twisp. (And you can also look at the pictures from last month's assessment trip, again!)

    Weather next week looks wet and chilly, but probably not dangerous so stay optimistic for an early opening!

    -Jeff Adamson 509-667-2815
     Of note are snow depth measurements taken during the survey a month ago:
    The assessment team took snow-depth measurements from Silver Star Gate (milepost 171) all the way to the bare pavement they found about nine miles above the west side closure gate (milepost 134).
    •Silver Star Gate - 3.3 feet compared with 2 feet last year.
    •Cutthroat Ridge #6 - 9 feet compared with 25 feet last year.
    •Liberty Bell Mtn. #1 – 12 feet compared to 40 feet last year.
    •Washington Pass – 6 feet compared to 5.5 feet last year.
    •Rainy Pass – 3.3 feet compared to 6 feet last year.

    Saturday, March 20, 2010

    Planetary Science and our North Cascades

    This article in the BBC struck me as very applicable to our North Cascades. Indeed, I've often written about the role of water in all of it's phases as a key to shaping the North Cascades (and also our enjoyment of this amazing corner of Planet Earth). Time to get out and enjoy before all the glaciers are gone!

    People have expressed surprise at my passion for NASA/spaceflight and how it fits with my conservation ethic. It's all about living on a rock spinning in the vast cosmos, and knowing it! Taking the time to explore firsthand the cycle of water in all it's forms is a blessing and a privlege. And when in the backcountry, it becomes obvious how important the mountains are to our very way of life--keeping them as healthy, intact ecosystems is literally keeping our life support systems functioning on a local, and a planetary scale. The North Cascades: where the largest ocean in the solar system meets (and creates) a rugged and rocky landscape rising more than a vertical mile in the sky...

    Friday, March 19, 2010

    Marble-halem, Part II

    To continue our story of taking a look at the Park potential between Marblemount and Newhalem, the big shock was to find a "shooting gallery" partway up Bacon Creek, at a wide spot in the road on a bluff above a spectacular section of Bacon Creek! Bullet casings, beer cans, broken skeet, injured and scarred trees, and freshly dumped party ice -- we think this spot had been used and abused just shortly before we arrived. Probably some "weekend warrior's" hangout.

    Just below that is this:
    Two of our group went up the side of Mt. Ross from Newhalem, and found some great view ledges, that would also make great places for short trail destinations. Here's the view from the top:

    Here's a link to a full photo gallery of our trip, with captions:

    Thursday, March 18, 2010

    Rick Ridgeway set to present at the Western Wilderness Conference 2010!

    Rick Ridgeway set to present at the Western Wilderness Conference 2010!
    We are proud to announce world adventurer, environmentalist, and wilderness conservationist Rick Ridgeway as plenary speaker at the Western Wilderness Conference 2010 on Saturday April 10th. Rick will be presentingFreedom to Roam, a multimedia presentation about the importance of wilderness and wildlife corridors for species adapting to a changing geography and climate. 

    Rick Ridgeway is a world renowned adventurer who has been called the real-life Indiana Jones by Rolling StoneMagazine. In April 2009, he received the Philip Burton Award from the California Wilderness Coalition for his leadership in protecting California's wild places. Rick currently serves as Patagonia's Vice President of Environmental Initiatives and Special Media Projects. 

    Visit Freedom to Roam or Patagonia to learn more about the Freedom to Roam initiative.
    Register for the conference today!

    Monday, March 15, 2010

    A trip to Marble-halem

    You know that stretch of the Skagit upstream of Marblemount and downstream of Newhalem? It's an area I'll admit I usually just drive through without much thought to stopping. The Ross Lake NRA begins at about Bacon Creek, and that's about where the new expanded National Park boundary would be. So we wanted to find out what kind of potential this area might have for some improved amenities in National Park. As of now, there's an NRA/Park Complex entry sign, but other than that the area appears pretty much the same as the National Forest downstream.

    We also wanted to look in the lower Bacon Creek drainage, since that's also targeted for inclusion in the expanded Park.

    After a quick stop in Marblemount to glance at maps, we headed up. First stop was near where Bacon Creek meets the Skagit, searching for some old bridge abutments that might support a new footbridge to put some trails on the south bank of the Skagit. We found them, but realized there probably wasn't any good place for a trailhead parking area for more than 2 or 3 cars along the highway there. So we headed-up to Newhalem.

    Turning right at the Park Visitor Center sign, we crossed the river and parked where some old roads split-off. This side of the river valley is rarely explored, but there's an abandoned road-bed that runs south from there, and so we slung on our packs and headed out to take a look.

    Your American Alps task force hits the trail!

    We turned around after crossing a few old river side-channels traversing a slope where the old road was cut into a bluff above the river, with good views up-valley. I don't think I'd ever gotten as close to the Skagit along here, but it's a beautiful "wild and scenic" place. Across the river here you really have no idea there's a highway anywhere near. If you didn't know about the dams and diversions upstream, you might think this was a completely natural river. Clearly it was subject to much more dramatic level fluctuations (ie "flooding") before the hydro project, from evidence of large abandoned side channels, but it still has a very wild look and feel.

    View up the Skagit from our lunch spot on the south bank below Newhalem. This might be an ideal new low-elevation trail in an expanded National Park.

    On our way back down the valley, we drove a short way up the Thornton Creek road to where we could look across the Skagit valley directly to where we'd turned around on the hike from Newhalem, and saw a large alluvial fan with a waterfall at its head. So one idea might be to improve the trail, then extend it to this waterfall. Total length might be 2 or 3 miles, an ideal off-season low-elevation destination. The trailhead would be close to the Visitor Center, another plus.

    Future waterfall destination for south-side river hike from Newhalem?

    A future post will tell the story of the rest of our exploration, including a shocking revelation on Bacon Creek!

    Skykomish River flow study

    Yesterday I posted about A lousy winter means trouble for glaciers and summer water supply , and referenced a study on the implications of retreating glaciers for the Skykomish River.

    While the Skykomish is outside the American Alps proposal, it is directly analagous and applicable to the rivers and streams within the American Alps proposal. This is especially true as more consideration is given to small hydro (less than 5MW), and water retention dams for agricultural and human interests, particularly for drainages E of the Cascade Crest (see Methow River and tributaries).

    Dr. Mauri Pelto, director of the North Cascades Glacier Climate Project, has put together an extensive worksheet with great photos--please see this link to a PDF.

    For more information on the project (note it started in 1983, long before "global warming" and "climate change" were a part of our lexicon), please see:


    Delays as crews begin to move Mount Baker Highway near Glacier

    This from American Alpine Institute's blog:
    GLACIER, WA – Crews are moving equipment into place now and will soon shift a quarter-mile of Mount Baker Highway (SR 542) away from the Nooksack River near east Church Mountain Road, four miles east of Glacier. Drivers can expect closures and delays to begin this month. WSDOT will shift the highway to help reduce the risk of flood damage and emergency closures. This is a long-term fix that will prevent costly emergency repairs and lane closures. Starting Monday, March 22, and lasting for two weeks, crews will stop traffic for up to 30 minutes at a time during daylight hours, Monday through Saturday, to fall and remove trees along what will become the new path for the highway.

    Hikers are advised to call the Mt. Baker Ranger District at 360-856-5700 or visit their Web site for updated information about trails and roads.
    For more project details, visit the Web page:

    Climbing Club at UW joins American Alps as a partner

    Climbing Club at University of Washingon joins American Alps as a partner!

    "The Climbing Club at UW would be proud to be a Partner and Supporter of the NCCC and AmAlps endeavours to expand North Cascades National Park." -Ian Derrington, President

    At the conclusion of a one-week online poll, all those members who voted, voted in favor.

    See the club website, at:

    Thanks, and WELCOME!

    (For a list of our other partners, see:

    Sunday, March 14, 2010

    A lousy winter means trouble for glaciers and summer water supply

    This is one of the driest, warmest winters I can remember in the past 25 years. It is disconcerting for a number of reasons: snow cover in to the summer provides natural bug suppression for those of us who like to hike and climb in the North Cascades, and it also provides for easier/better overland travel (at least I think so--scree is yuck). Snow also means easy water and workable high elevation bivvy spots (easy to mold snow in to a nice flat area).

    But these are rather personal, subjective advantages of a healthy snowpack. The real importance of a good winter/big snowpack is (positive) mass-balance for the area glaciers, and the natural water storage and distribution represented. Streams and rivers across the state, and all who depend on them, from farmers to fish, receive a significant portion of their high-summer flow from snowmelt and glacier runoff. In the case of the Skykomish River, up to 35%! I hope to post a fact sheet on the Skykomish shortly.

    Dr. Mauri Pelto, director of the North Cascades Glacier Climate Project, recently evaluated this winter's (lack of) snowpack in an email outlining the upcoming 2010 Field Season of research on 10 glaciers in the North Cascades:
    "The winter of 2010 has been quite mild, with January setting a record high monthly mean temperature in the region and February the warmest since 1991. Precipitation has been below normal as well. This is leading to below average snowpack. The lower the elevation the greater the snowpack water deficit, 50% of average at Snoqualmie and 80% of average at Mount Baker. The lack of large storms has limited avalanching, thus avalanche fed glaciers are the most likely to have significantly below average snowpack. "

    Saturday, March 13, 2010

    Tabling at upcoming meetings

    Karl says:
    NCCC will have table space at the Western Wilderness Conference in Berkeley next month.
    (See our previous post about this event!)

    Phil says:
    NCCC and American Alps will have a table at the Othello Sandhill Crane Festival at the end of March.
    (See our previous post about this event including a video slideshow!)

    As the gray wolf recovers, who are its friends?

    From As the gray wolf recovers, who are its friends?

    The species is back in parts of the state. But can a recovering species return to the Olympic Peninsula?

    Winter 09-10 issue of The Wild Cascades going out soon to N3C members

    The latest issue of The Wild Cascades is about to land in your mailbox if you're an  N3C member!

    Some of the features:
    • Debris Flows
    • Bridge to (Almost) Nowhere
    • American Alps Update
    • Polly Dyer Day
    • Historic Changes at Reiter Forest
    • North Fork Snoqualmie

    Plus book reviews, "A Look Back," trip reports, and board member profiles.

    A subscription to TWC comes with N3C Membership! Click HERE to subscribe!

    (FYI, back issues are online, but the current issue won't be online for a month after printed copies are mailed to members.)

    Wednesday, March 10, 2010

    Eminent USGS geologist will collaborate on AmAlps biodiversity report

    "World Class and Close to Home" - That's how Rowland Tabor of USGS describes his beloved North Cascades. Author of several very popular, accessible books on North Cascade geology, including Routes and Rocks and Mountain Mosaic, Rowland today announced he will collaborate on the geology sub-section of the American Alps biodiversity draft report currently being prepared.

    He said, "I'm a full supporter of the N3C and your goals."

    Rowland W. Tabor

    Geologist Emeritus

    U.S. Geological Survey
    Western Region Earth Surface Processes Team

    Authors: Rowland Tabor, Ralph Haugerud
    Mountaineers Books

    Tuesday, March 9, 2010

    Pacific Northwest forests act as massive carbon banks

    The thick, wet forests of the Pacific Northwest are the carbon storage powerhouses of the U.S. -- in fact, they store more than 1-1/2 times as much carbon as the entire amount of carbon dioxide burned in fossil fuels throughout the country each year, a new study shows.

    Two analysts for the Wilderness Society looked at data compiled by the U.S. Forest Service and identified 10 national forests, from the Tongass in southeast Alaska to the Siskiyou in southern Oregon, that together store about 9.8 billion metric tons of carbon on a total of 19 million acres. More

    Sunday, March 7, 2010

    Chuckanut Conservancy starts new blog

    The Chuckanut Conservancy, based in Bellingham, WA, is dedicated to the protection and restoration of the unique wildlands in the Chuckanuts-to-Cascades region of Northwest Washington. And it just opened a new BLOG!

    Currently, they're actively working to secure protection for all or most of Blanchard Mountain, a rare example of a large and relatively intact coastal forest. In fact, Blanchard and the Chuckanuts represent the largest remaining block of maturing, publicly owned forest on the entire eastern shore of the greater Puget Sound. This area is a unique part of the greater North Cascades ecosystem and as such N3C supports the work of The Chuckanut Conservancy and invites you to subscribe to their new blog.

    Thursday, March 4, 2010

    The National Park Service announces public hearings on their plans to upgrade the Stehekin Ferry Terminal.

    The purpose of this project is to provide universal access at the Stehekin Ferry Landing for all passengers traveling via the commercial ferry system. This will enhance passenger safety and experience by improving accessibility to and from the ferries.

    The need for this proposal was first identified in the 1995 General Management Plan for Lake Chelan National Recreation Area. The specific alternatives presented in the Environmental Assessment were developed in response to the Americans with Disability Act Accessibility Guidelines and National Park directives which state that park transportation systems shall be “universally designed” to provide the highest levels of accessibility for mobility impaired persons.

    Submit an online comment before April 2, 2010 at:

     Public meetings are scheduled as follows:

          Thursday, March 18
          6:00 – 8:00 p.m.
          Campbell’s Resort, East-West Conference Room
          104 W. Woodin Street, Chelan

          Friday, March 19
          4:00 – 6:00 p.m.
          Golden West Visitor Center, Stehekin

    The Irate Birdwatcher to air on KCTS-9!

    Kathy at Crest Pictures tells us...
    We just got great news! Our latest documentary The Irate Birdwatcher (which isn't about birdwatching at all, but about wilderness preservation) will be airing on KCTS TV next month. It's an abridged half-hour version of our longer 55-min film, to fit their programming. There's still plenty to listen to and to watch – you'll get the message. For those who don't know, it features the insightful and often poetic words of Harvey Manning – the legendary NW writer and conservationist ("The IB" was his pen name while writing and editing for N3C's The Wild Cascades conservation journal). The movie follows Harvey through decades as he unveils the beauty of Washington’s wildest places and discovers the need to stand up and fight for their survival. 
    Robert's stunning video, captured over the last few years while we backpacked and climbed throughout the Cascades and Olympics, supports Harvey's story seamlessly. Harvey's words are spoken by a seasoned Northwest actor Earl V Prebezac, who captures the spirit of the man beautifully - what a gem! The film has a great original score by David Michael and his talented group of musicians from Port Townsend. Also featured in the movie are several still images taken by local climbing photographers, including local legend Tom Miller and the up and coming Jason Hummel.

    I hope you all can catch one of the broadcasts. While the film is first and foremost about wilderness preservation – esp in our own backyard – we also meant it to be a tribute to Harvey Manning – keeping his enduring passion for the good green earth alive, and his tireless crusade to protect the wilderness and our "wildness within" on the forefront.

    The airdates are as follows:
    Thursday, April 1 at 10:30pm
    Monday, April 5 at 4:30am
    Sunday, April 11 at 6:00pm

    KCTS is Seattle's PBS -- it broadcasts on Channel 9 in Western Washington. It also serves Yakima and Central Washington and parts of British Columbia. To locate a channel in your area go here:

    To see a trailer and read more about the film, see our previous post:

    Climbing Club @UW presentation success!

    Tom and Phil presented the American Alps Legacy Project to the Climbing Club at the University of Washington yesterday at their evening meeting and got a rousing response. "What can we do to help? Where do we start?" -- those are questions we love to hear! Thanks to Ian and the folks at the Climbing Club and we look forward to working together!