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Sunday, July 29, 2012

The NCCC Fights for Washington's Mountains - history video now online

A team of gifted local High School students produced this wonderful documentary video, and has kindly given us permission to distribute it on YouTube! It was an entry in the Washington State History Day competition, a great look back -- of course not a summary of current engagement -- for that, see the current issue of The Wild Cascades.

Our thanks to Maxwell Schrempp, Jessica Jin, Nathan Maris, and Ceri Riley for this!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Why is there a Wilderness Act, you might ask?

Does this look like an historic structure renovation?

"U.S. Forest Service Workers at the Green Mountain Lookout stand on new floor joists with gasoline powered generator in the foreground in 2009." -THE HERALD, Everett, WA
The Wilderness Act has a purpose. Without it, vast tracts of wild lands would be over-run, frequented by motorized users, and would have lost their essential wild character. So a rule is a rule. Or rather the law is the law. If government agencies like USFS don't abide by the law, why should anyone else? No, sorry, it's not up to local authorities to decide when a law 'makes sense' and when it doesn't. Perhaps a civics lesson is in order, since the basic principles of our legal system seem to not be taught in schools anymore. Now we see why we have a judicial branch that can rule on the legality of actions like this, and isn't subject to the whims of the coming election cycle.

Bill to protect lookout would chip away at wilderness protection

U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen has introduced federal legislation to effectively over-rule a federal court decision to remove the illegally constructed Green Mountain Lookout near Darrington. Larsen's actions are an unprecedented effort to strip away protections from a designated wilderness that will undoubtedly be cheered by those in Washington, D.C., who are itching to chip away at our nation's wilderness law. The court's clear and objective judgment that Larsen seeks to undo is entirely consistent with every Wilderness Act case in the 48-year history of that law. Readers can access the full ruling at The Forest Service violated several laws, culminating in the Court's judgment that the lookout should be removed and relocated outside wilderness. 


USFS: Forest Advisory Committee Members Sought

Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest
215 Melody Lane
Wenatchee, WA 98801

For immediate release:  July 19, 2012
Contacts: Okanogan-Wenatchee N.F. Public Affairs Officer Roland Giller, 509-664-9314
    Okanogan-Wenatchee N.F. Public Affairs Specialist Robin DeMario, 509-664-9292
Forest Advisory Committee Members Sought
WENATCHEE—The Forest Service is seeking applicants for vacancies on the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest’s Eastern Washington Cascades and Yakima Provincial Advisory Committees.
Applications can be obtained from the national forest’s headquarters in Wenatchee, the Okanogan Valley Office, or online at
All applications should be submitted by September 1, 2012.
Informational meetings describing the committees and their activities will be held on July 30 and July 31 in Wenatchee and Naches. 
The meeting in Wenatchee on July 30 will be held from 2-3 p.m. in the conference room of the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest headquarters office, 215 Melody Lane, Wenatchee.  The meeting in Naches on July 31 will be held from 2-3 p.m. in the Naches Ranger District conference room, 10237 Hwy. 12, Naches.  Forest Service representatives will explain the application and selection process and answer questions at each meeting.
            “For the past 17 years, advice from provincial advisory committees has helped the Forest Service and other federal land managers implement the Northwest Forest Plan on federal lands in ecological provinces within the range of the northern spotted owl,” said Forest Supervisor Becki Heath. 
Two of these committees provide advice on federal lands in North Central Washington. 
The Eastern Washington Cascades Province encompasses federal lands within the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest in Chelan County and west of the Chewuch and Methow Rivers in Okanogan County.  The Yakima Province encompasses federal lands within the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest in Kittitas and Yakima Counties.
            Advisory committee membership represents federal and state agencies, counties, tribes, and public interests including recreation and tourism, environmental groups, the forest products industry, fisheries, wildlife, forestry conservation, special forest products, mining, grazing, commercial fishing, and general citizen interests.
            The Forest Service seeks gender, ethnic and cultural diversity on the Eastern Washington Cascades and Yakima Provincial Advisory Committees, including citizens with disabilities.  Advisory committee membership diversity will assist the agency to foster effective program and mission delivery to all Americans.
            Applicants for advisory committee positions must be United States citizens at least 18 years old.  Criteria for selection will include considerations such as an applicant’s knowledge of local and regional resource issues as well as public land uses and activities; the ability to communicate well; willingness to work toward mutually-beneficial solutions to complex issues; and respect and credibility in local communities.
Applicants must also be willing to make a commitment to attend advisory committee meetings—generally one-day sessions, held in Wenatchee, every two to three months.  Field trips and alternate meeting locations may also be scheduled. 
Advisory committee members serve without pay, but reimbursement is provided for mileage expenses.  A routine Advisory Committee Membership Background Information Form (AD-755), included in the application package, must also be completed before anyone can assume membership on a Department of Agriculture advisory committee.
Those interested in serving on a Provincial Advisory Committee should submit an application to Becki Heath, Designated Federal Official, 215 Melody Lane, Wenatchee, WA 98801, by September 1, 2012.  Faxed submissions may be sent to her attention at 509-664-9286.  Letters of endorsement from groups or organizations may also be included with applications. 
Questions about the process may be directed to Roland Giller at 509-664-9314 or Robin DeMario at 509-664-9292.
Selections for advisory committee positions will be notified of the final selections by mail.  All advisory committee meetings are open to the public.

USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (800) 795-3272 (voice), or (202) 720-6382 (TDD).

Roland Giller
Public Affairs Officer
Okanogan-Wenatchee N.F.
215 Melody Lane
Wenatchee, WA 98801

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Cascade Pass stewardship next weekend!

In the footsteps of Joe and Margaret Miller:

Join North Cascades Institute and North Cascades National Park Native Plant Nursery staff July 28 for a day of plant stewardship at Cascade Pass, the site of a major revegetation effort.  The day's work will include removing non-native invasive plants, collecting native plant seeds for the nursery and some planting if the season is right. We will be working with a variety of alpine plant species including white and pink heather, partridgefoot and huckleberry. We look forward to working with our volunteer Stewards to help revegetate one of the Park's most beautiful subalpine locations.

To register or for more information please contact Matt Kraska, Stewardship Specialist, at (206) 526-2575 or

The above is reposted from NCI's blog:

For more details on the trail and project location visit:

For background on NCCC's Joe and Margaret Miller and their pioneering work to start the Cascade Pass revegetation effort, see this article in the Seattle P-I:

...and the cover story of the Summer/Fall 2010 issue of The Wild Cascades: 

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Friday, July 13, 2012

DNR survey - have your input heard!

The Washington Department of Natural Resources just released a survey to gather input on how the public would like to see recreation managed on DNR-managed state trust lands and conservation areas in the Snoqualmie Corridor.
This is a unique opportunity for you to have your input heard by the recreation planning committee.
For more information, please check out our blog.
We encourage you to share this link with the recreation groups you are involved with through your e-newsletters or social media pages. I’d also be happy to submit an article or blog to your publication.
Feel free to contact me with any questions.
Diana Lofflin
Recreation Program Communications Manager
Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR)

Office: (360) 902-1169
Cell: (360) 480-1037

Sunday, July 8, 2012

On the Outside Looking In

It's been far too long since my last post, and that's because it's been far too long since my last trip to the mountains.  Indeed, this is the first time in 30 years I did not make a significant trip/climb in June. Weather has been an issue, but finally we got some of the good stuff.  I'm way out of shape, but still managed to pull together a trip highlighting areas in the American Alps Legacy Project .

This write up will likely run as an article in the upcoming The Wild Cascades, so consider this a free sneak preview.  Enjoy the link to the photos below!


On the Outside Looking In
July 4 – 6, 2012

My mountaineering focus has changed over the past several years, in part due to injuries and evolving life priorities, and more so because of my involvement with conservation efforts on behalf of the North Cascades Conservation Council and the American Alps Legacy Project.  I have made it a goal to visit lands outside federal recognition as National Park (Dept of Interior) or USFS Wilderness (Dept of Agriculture) designation.  Usually this means lower elevation mountains, places without a marquee name (though there are large exceptions in the form of the Methow Mountains, Black Peak and others) but which provide critical habitat and are important and impressive in their own right.  Over the past several months, I’ve been studying maps, trying to find a place as representative as any of the seemingly arbitrary placement of the National Park boundary, the boundary of the Pasayten Wilderness and the vast stretches of mountains and valleys between which remain inexplicably unprotected.  I found such a place along Highway 20 in the Granite Creek trench, a place with no trail leading to it, no trailhead, some un-named 7,000 crags, and plenty of opportunity to learn more about the landscape.
One thing I know, and keep relearning, is that mountains, even small ones, are much bigger than we think they are, and much bigger than we are.   After a classic North Cascades approach from the old school handbook of mountaineering and route finding, I found myself atop a crag, surrounded on all sides by magnificent forests, soaring peaks, tumbling glaciers and cascading waters.  Yet I was on the Outside Looking In.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again--It was with a bit of trepidation as I left my car along Highway 20, not only because I was confronted with trackless forest and many unknowns rising above me, but out of concern it might not be there when I returned (I had cleared it with the WSP, but along a heavily traveled road during a holiday week, one is exposed to more than the usual attention, especially a rig by itself “in the middle of nowhere.”)
The ascent was generally three equal  parts, the first through a recent burn (not bad, most trees small diameter Ponderosa and Lodgepole pine), then lovely moss forest;  the second through and up a steep, green hell of brush; and the third a spectacular ridge ascent on snow to a steep summit pitch.  I should note I dubbed the steep brush “The Green Mastication”, for it certainly filleted me and left me bloody and generally shredded.  Ahh, going trail-less in the North Cascades!  At points on both ascent and decent, I was literally swinging from tree to tree, brachiating like the alpine hominid I am.  Unlike other monkeys, I had 50 pounds on my back—an exercise in energy management, if you will.  All the while keeping on a route that was as much dead-reckoning as it was following game paths.  By the way, I don’t flag routes—it makes it more fun on the way down/out!
At the summit, I found a tiny, postage stamp of a flat spot on a quickly diminishing cornice.  I was very fortunate that cornice lasted the 50 hours I was there (two cycles of the sun)—by the time I left, one corner of the tent was literally hanging off the edge of the cornice.  Not really dangerous, but it left little room if there was an encounter with larger wildlife (though almost had two serious accidents with deer jumping in the highway on the drive home).   It was a great camp—few bugs and when they showed up, so did a nice breeze.  I had planned to climb an adjacent 7,200’ peak, but as this is the first time in 30 years I did not climb in the month of June (weather issues), I was and am too out of shape.  I chose to stay at camp, as this facilitated the primary mission objective:  record and compare/contrast areas that are unprotected, proximate and adjacent to areas that are.  As evidenced by the accompanying photo gallery, I think the camp served as a delightful platform from which to perform my research.
I’ll let the pics tell the story, but will note the Kimtah Glacier is spectacular!   Indeed, the entire northern fa├žade of Ragged Ridge is world class alpine material:  big icefalls, cirque glaciers cradled by jagged spires, tremendous relief and big forests.   A full moon rising over the Methow Mountains each night was remarkable,  The Methow Mountains, the forests of the Granite Creek valley, with the obvious transition from wet west marine climate to dry east continental climate literally under my feet was awesome. 

The whole area, even the adjacent small mountains and forested valleys had me wondering how so many mountains can fit in such a tight array.  It also had me wondering about boundaries and borders.
So how is it that I was on the outside looking in?  Is it because the mountains are too low to qualify for recognition?  Places such as cabinet Creek are amazing, productive and provide critical habitat for everything in the region, including us.  The water pouring off our North Cascades literally power our lives, and provide food and clean water.  The fact such vast areas remain unprotected does require attention—why aren’t they protected, and how can we get them protected?  For these places are certainly worthy of recognition, and their best value is in keeping them pristine.  For us now, and for generations to come.
Photo Gallery:

You might note I haven’t named the peak I was on—can you?

Thursday, July 5, 2012

The new Wild Cascades is now online!

Check out the latest issue of TWC, in color PDF!

In This Issue:
  • NCCC leadership changes mean new roles for Forsgaaard, Zalesky
  • Reiter Forest non-motorized trail development continues
  • Alternative C is NCCC's choice for Suiattle River road project
  • Catalyst makes debut 
  • NCCC Actions, January – April 2012
  • In Memoriam: John Edwards
  • Bumping Lake Update 
  • A conversation with Jan Henderson, Part 2 
  • National Park retirees speak out on H.R. 1505