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Sunday, December 18, 2011

Mining threat and American Alps

Per my Thanksgiving post, many may believe the threats to the landscape are not real/realistic, and that we're engaged in arm-waving and over-dramatization.

My main contention of, and support for American Alps is rooted in a belief that the landscape is worthy of protection and recognition for a number of reasons, of which "threats" is only one. A functioning, robust ecosystem that recognizes the lay of the land--where watersheds and landform define the area of protection, not arbitrary lines.

The evidence of threats I provided then is legit, but now it's time to take it to the next level.
This is a letter I received from Earthworks, the leading organization in mining reform, and those best versed in the impacts of the General Mining Law of 1872. Extrapolate the below to The North Cascades, and imagine the upper Granite Creek Trench or Early Winters/West Fork Methow (which aren't even Wilderness).

==From Earthworks==
In northwest Montana, the Montanore copper/silver mine is proposed under the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness.It would blast miles of tunnels underneath the Wilderness – a vital refuge that supports:
*A struggling population of 30-40 grizzly bears (a threatened species).
*Important bull trout recovery streams (another threatened species).
*Wilderness lakes and streams that provide clean and abundant water.
*Dewatering Wilderness Lakes and Streams: to keep the mine tunnels dry, groundwater would be lowered 10 feet to 1,000 feet under the Wilderness -- substantially reducing flows in rivers and lakes that rely on this groundwater, some permanently.
*Harming Bull Trout: Reduction of stream flows in two of the most important bull trout streams in the region would be particularly harmful for bull trout which need these cold, clear streams for spawning.
*Threatening Grizzly Bears:The Cabinet Yaak grizzly bear population is already hanging on by a thread. Over a thousand acres of grizzly bear habitat would be destroyed if Montanore goes ahead.


I urge everyone to go to the Earthworks action page and submit your own letters on this matter.
I also urge you to reconsider how much (more) mining would take place in the upper reaches of the Methow and Skagit drainages if the area were designated National Park...

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and all the best to everyone this festive season!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Membership event a huge success!

Thanks to all who helped make Friday night's membership event a big success!

A packed house!

Founder Patrick Goldsworthy thanks the membership

(Photos by Karl Forsgaard)

Monday, December 5, 2011

New MAP GALLERY available!

Take a look at our new interactive Map Gallery, including boundaries of proposed Park additions and even a "Panoramio" layer you can turn on to show photos! Zoom in for details. 

Thanks to Pacific Biodiversity Institute for their help.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Membership has its benefits

The latest issue of The Wild Cascades is in print and has arrived at the homes of most members by now. You won't be able to see it online for a few more weeks, so we once again urge you to join N3C to be among the first to get your copy 3 times a year. To join, visit: !

In this issue

Wild Sky “Trail Plan” 
  Rick McGuire
DNR plans new trails in Middle Fork and I-90 
   Rick McGuire
Homeland Security trumps environmental integrity
   John S. Edwards
Okanogan PUD abandons plan for Shankers Bend Dam
   Rick McGuire
North Cascade glacier climate project
Tom Hammond
American Alps Legacy Proposal released to public September 30
Jim Davis
American Alps Legacy Proposal: What and why
Phil Zalesky
Granite Falls motocross project still alive
Bruce Barnbaum
A Pilgrimage to Image Lake via Holden, and a tale of two mines
Phil Fenner
NCCC, Sierra Club comment on Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest Plan  
  — Karl Forsgaard
Roadless Rule upheld—huge win for conservation 
  — Tom Hammond

The North Cascades Conservation Council (NCCC) is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization formed to protect and preserve the North Cascades' scenic, scientific, recreational, educational, and wilderness values.
NCCC has a 50 year history of aggressively promoting National Parks and Wilderness, protecting old growth forests and pristine watersheds, conserving endangered wildlife, preventing off-road vehicle damage to public lands, and guiding Park and Wilderness management.

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Fallacy “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it”

As promised, here is a blog that actually employs real facts, with real citations.

The Fallacy of believing the upper Methow and Skagit drainages (The Methow Mountains and Granite Creek trench) are sufficiently protected, and don’t need to have legislative action such as National Park designation, is summed up by those opposed to American Alps as “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.

I submit to you that the Northwest Forest Plan, and the Clinton-era “Roadless Rule” do not constitute real protection for this amazing landscape because they are administrative in nature. That is, the US Forest Service is directed to manage the land in a certain way with discretion.

However, if a law or laws are passed by congress such as the “National Forest County Revenue, Schools, and Jobs Act of 2011” , the Forest Service would be compelled to log the forests of the Methow Mountains, and permit mines throughout the watersheds.
Check these pages for a taste of reality:

Or how about the Roadless Rule? Yep, there was a big victory in the 10th Circuit Court, but soon after, we have this out of congress: HR 1581 – The Wilderness and Roadless Release Act. It would effectively repeal any and all gains/protections for our wildlands. Check these out:

Do you really think the Methow Mountains and other areas of the North Cascades are sufficiently protected with administrative rules (not laws)? The Senate could very easily flip, and then these laws become reality.

Many traditional allies of wilderness and lands protection have lost sight of who/what the real threats to the glorious North Cascades are, and rise in opposition (be it direct, or behind a cloak) to American Alps. It is baffling and disappointing.

Talk about egos and big dollars run amok…

I personally know many of the Forest Service staff of the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest. They are good people: dedicated, knowledgeable and professional. Many in American Alps have worked with them closely on the Okanogan-W​enatchee Forest Plan Revision. When I questioned one of the top officials on the Forest at a revision planning meeting about why the area of Liberty Bell-Early Winters was not recommended for Wilderness, I was told that Mineral Surveys indicate precious metals in the area, and they (the OWNF staff) don’t want Wilderness designation to run cross-wise with the General Mining Law of 1872.

Of course the OWNF staff doesn’t want to punch mines in, but they are federal employees who are compelled by law and duty to fulfill the laws that congress passes. Should any bill like those noted above make it through to law, there WILL be mines in the Methow (er, more mines in the Methow, there are already a couple of superfund sites with insufficient dollars for remediation—Gold Hill and Azurite).!ut/p/c4/04_SB8K8xLLM9MSSzPy8xBz9CP0os3gjAwhwtDDw9_AI8zPyhQoY6BdkOyoCAGixyPg!/?navtype=BROWSEBYSUBJECT&cid=stelprdb5313821&navid=120000000000000&pnavid=null&ss=110617&position=News.Html&ttype=detail&pname=Okanogan-Wenatchee%20National%20Forest-%20Alerts

(You don't think it's "broke" that there are huge areas at the headwaters of the Skagit in the US with which you literally cannot come in to contact without burning your skin?)

Plenty of tree extraction too, be it for biomass furnaces or a pulp mill.

So now tell me with a straight face that “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it” applies.

Oh, and for you folks “living” in and around Mazama-Winthrop: I don't want to see your faces if/when adits are being punched in along the Early Winters drainage. You’re concerned about increased traffic from families sharing our treasure as National Park visitors? How about hundreds of trucks hauling cyanide and tons of rock to be smashed for a few pounds of gold, or hauling tons of "woody debris" off the forests bound for a biomass plant (that consumes more energy than it produces)?

How clean are modern mines? One need look no further than nearby Buckhorn Mountain, where that mine has yet to meet discharge limits on a consistent basis (oops, here come more FACTS with proper citation).

I have hiked, climbed, explored and lived in the North Cascades since 1983. I see how “balanced” the land use has been. I do not take for granted our Wilderness areas and National Park, and see how difficult it is to make these things happen. Then again, these lands are worthy, and I am so THANKFUL that others before me had the vision to create National Parks and Wilderness--timeless areas where all generations can continue to learn, discover and explore the limits of life.
Happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

From the Pres

"In some cases, critics of AmAlps have somehow confused the AALP with other more controversial NCCC positions such as forest road rebuilding projects ... Despite misrepresentations by some, the American Alps Legacy Project was conceived primarily to provide and protect access for the public so they may enjoy these special places. In my opinion, the National Park approach is the best way to accomplish this goal and to fairly regulate the use of the North Cascades. Don’t be misled by those who say we are denying access. Rather, we are encouraging access for the public, now and in the future."

- Marc Bardsley, President, NCCC, The Wild Cascades Summer/Fall 2011

Monday, November 14, 2011

Of Access and Protection

I find it interesting that so many are shouting and arm-waving that with the American Alps proposal, we're "trying to lock people out of the back-country!". At the very same time, and indeed, some of the same people are crying foul, and that we're inviting too many people in, and that with this National Park proposal we're "doing everything possible to build new visitor centers, parking lots, paved trails, and other amusements for lazy aged America."

Last time I checked the actual facts of the proposal, none of the above is true--we're not looking to lock people out, nor are we planning to pave any trails. But in this day and age, don't let the facts sway you, go with the burning torches and pitchforks--much funner that way, eh?

In my next posting, I'll take up the more factual and important issues of the current level of protection afforded to the lands included in the proposal. The "don't fix it if it ain't broke" crowd is a significant portion of the pushback on American Alps, and some fact checking and reality-based conversation is in order.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Pedestrians

John Edwards, on the team that completed the first successful winter ascent of Denali, recently wrote this:

The Pedestrians:
There is a view held by some in the climbing community that national parks are a Bad Thing. I know because in my fitter days I mingled with some who felt that National Parks restrict the freedom of the hills and hamper alpine endeavors through regulation and through the occasional actions of over-zealous rangers. The perspective of those climbers -The Pedestrians -reaches only as far as the end of their rope. They do not see that beyond the pitch is an ecosystem in far greater danger. We humans are not the only users of parkdom -for us it means recreation, both physical and esthetic. For the non-human inhabitants it is 24/7 a matter of life and death, of persistence and extinction. All the massive evidence that has been hard won in recent decades tells us that the larger a contiguous reserve, the more likely endangered (and non-endangered) organisms will survive. The chances of survival are diminished in lands open to exploitation. Just as the stock exchange thrives on predictability, so ecosystems thrive on long-term security from exploitation. So, fellow climbers, extend your view beyond your favorite climb, ask yourself whether that is a short sighted, even selfish Pedestrian view. Recognize our moral obligation to the countless animals and plants for their welfare when we humans manage our unique landscapes; those non-humans out there don't get to vote. And support the management choice that both provides for climbing activity and promotes ecological integrity.

Monday, October 24, 2011

American Alps featured in Skagit Valley Herald

Check out this cartoon that ran in Sunday's Skagit Valley Herald!