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Thursday, August 30, 2012

An impression

Aldo Leopold wrote that "the penalty of having an ecological education is to live in a world of wounds." One antidote to Leopold's dilemma is increased intimacy with the natural world. Pick a place and get to know it. From this knowledge and depth of experience come facts and feelings that call us to action. As we look to the future we have no other choice. 
-Saul Weisberg, in Impressions of the North Cascades, a free eBook now available on N3C's website at  

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Report from Norway

An N3C member traveling in Norway recently sent us this comment:
Last week when we were up in the high Norwegian mountains I found myself comparing US wilderness with what they call wilderness and national parks here.  They run open-range stock, mainly sheep, everywhere, even on the highest elevations limited only by the animals' ability to climb cliffs and snow/ice.  Which means that even far above tree line where the heather (or similar species) is common you can see that the plants are heavily grazed.  And of course unless you get onto the snow fields and glaciers, there are frequent piles of sheep and cattle crap (or maybe it just seems frequent to my eye).  Also, the huts and private holdings are everywhere.  Even the top of the highest mountain in Norway has a small shop selling candy and snacks.  Right in the middle of a national park!  Soon as I read a notice about the snack shop I completely lost all interest in climbing the mountain.  Picking and collecting flowers etc was allowed, but (get this) only if you're doing it for yourself.  I didn't see signs of anyone backpacking.  Here they just go hut to hut and get food at each stop, etc., the European way.  All this, despite quite large land areas that could be set aside fully protected.  I really enjoyed seeing the mountains here, but came away with a deeper appreciation of the US park and wilderness systems (which work all the better because of public advocacy by groups like N3C).

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

NCI's Pika Project seeks volunteers

The wildlife division of North Cascades National Park, in conjunction with North Cascades Institute, is seeking highly motivated and responsible individuals to collect data on pika abundance, distribution, and habitat use throughout the Park Complex during summer and early fall 2012. The research will continue a project started in 2009 to help further address factors influencing pika abundance and habitat use, and document population trends. Pikas are a proposed indicator species for climate change and have been petitioned for listing under the Endangered Species Act.

Volunteers may commit to day trips, multi-day trips, or for the entire project, with priority given to those who can commit for extended periods for consistency purposes. The work will be conducted as part of a 2-4 person field crew and involve extensive backcountry hiking and camping, and off-trail travel across rugged terrain. Frontcountry trips can usually be completed in a day, while backcountry trips will range between 2-5 days in length.

NCI has created a Yahoo group page for the project:

For more info, please email:

Ashley Kvitek
Graduate Student, North Cascades Institute
Citizen Science/Stewardship

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Action needed to stop "Lookout" bill

Action needed to protect Glacier Peak Wilderness, stop "Lookout" bill

We need your help to stave off a bill in Congress (H.R. 6039) that would set
a terrible precedent for the National Wilderness Preservation System and set
the Glacier Peak "Lookout" table for the House Republicans to
launch an across-the-board attack on Wilderness protection. H.R. 6039 would
perpetuate the recently, illegally constructed Green Mountain Lookout in the
Glacier Peak Wilderness by overriding a recent court ruling ordering the
structure's removal. 

Background. In 2009, with no public notice or environmental review, the
U.S. Forest Service (FS) began illegally constructing a "fire lookout"
building on Green Mountain after having removed the remains of the former
lookout seven years earlier. The FS used more than 65 helicopter flights,
power tools and jack-hammers, new massive concrete footings, and all new
wood for the foundation, wall studs, rafters, floor joists, and more.
Construction of a new building, use of helicopters and power tools, and lack
of environmental review all violated the Wilderness Act and the National
Environmental Policy Act.

When Wilderness Watch learned that the new "lookout" was under construction
we tried to halt the project. We appealed to the district ranger, forest
supervisor, regional forester, and the Chief's office in Washington, D.C. At
each level our attempts to get the law enforced were ignored and the agency
pushed ahead on the flimsy rationale of local support for the wilderness
construction project. With no other remedy, we went to federal court. In
March, Judge John Coughenour in Seattle ruled in our favor. Noting the FS
"egregiously erred" in its actions, the judge ordered the agency to remove
the new building from the Glacier Peak Wilderness. You can read more on our

The Larsen Bill. In late June, responding to pressure from a small, vocal
group, U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen, who represents the Darrington area in
Congress, introduced H.R. 6039 to amend the 1984 Washington State Wilderness
Act to authorize the Green Mountain Lookout and effectively overturn the
court's ruling. So far, the bill has not received a hearing and we are
actively working to forestall any companion bill in the Senate.

Rep. Larsen generally supports Wilderness, yet this bill would be a damaging
blow to the Glacier Peak Wilderness and the entire National Wilderness
Preservation System. If enacted into law it would allow the illegally
constructed building to remain in designated Wilderness, where buildings and
structures are banned. The bill would reward Forest Service officials who
deliberately violated laws intended to protect Wilderness and allow for
public participation in public lands' management. And Rep. Larsen's bill
would set a damaging national precedent for exempting unlawful uses in
existing Wilderness. Today, with the most anti-wilderness U.S. House since
1964, wilderness opponents would love to set this precedent by passing
Larsen's bill. For more information, see the excellent commentary that
appeared recently in the Everett Herald:

WHAT YOU CAN DO. Please contact Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Patty
Murray (D-WA) urging them to protect the Glacier Peak Wilderness and the
Wilderness system by not supporting or pursuing Green Mountain Lookout
legislation. Their contact information is below. Also, please send a letter
to Representative Larsen, even if you don't live in his Congressional
District, urging him to withdraw his bill. If you live in Rep. Larsen's
district you can email him at the address below. Otherwise, to reach him
you'll need to send your letter via U.S. Mail. Write in your own words, but
consider including the following points:

1. H.R. 6039 would set a terrible national precedent that could open the
door for other bad bills authorizing illegal uses or structures elsewhere in
the National Wilderness Preservation System.

2. H.R. 6039 would degrade the wilderness character of the Glacier Peak
Wilderness with this building highly visible atop a wilderness peak.

3. H.R. 6039 would overturn a well-reasoned ruling from U.S. District Court
and reward officials who knowingly broke the law.

4. The delegation should support a plan to move the new lookout to a
location in nearby Darrington or to a non-wilderness summit where it can be
accessible to many more citizens. This has been done at the popular Columbia
Breaks Fire Interpretive Center near Entiat, WA .

5. Glacier Peak Wilderness is a national treasure belonging to all citizens
across the country. It deserves the strongest possible protection for
current and future generations.

Senator Maria Cantwell Senator Patty
915 Second Avenue, Suite 3205 915 Second Avenue, Suite
Seattle, WA 98174 Seattle, WA
206-220-6400 - phone 206-553-5545 - phone
206-220-6404 - fax 206-553-0891 - fax

Email at:
Email at:

Representative Rick Larsen
2930 Wetmore Avenue, Suite 9F
Everett, WA 98201
425-252-3188 - phone
425-252-6606 - fax
Email at:

If you can make a financial contribution to help in this effort, please do
so by visiting our website. Contributions from
wilderness advocates like you make our work possible. Thank you.

Wilderness Watch is the only national conservation organization dedicated
solely to the protection and proper stewardship of lands and rivers included
in the National Wilderness Preservation System and National Wild & Scenic
Rivers System.


Wilderness Watch
PO Box 9175
Missoula, Montana 59807