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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Polly Dyer at the #Wilderness50 Conference

Here are some photos of NCCC's Polly Dyer, credited with suggesting the word "untrammeled" to Howard Zahniser, author of the Wilderness Act, speaking with historian and filmmaker John Concillio of the William O. Douglas Film Project, taken at the recent National Wilderness Conference:

They include this animation!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

#Wilderness50 Day 5 - finale!

The last day here at #Wilderness50, and the 8am session included Karen Taylor-Goodrich, Superintendent of North Cascades National Park, so we took particular interest. 
Her presentation focussed on cross-border cooperation as one of the challenges of administering the Park in the so-called "Post 9/11 World" we live in. Border Partrol however was not her primary emphasis, rather it was ecosystem management and SEEC. 
This map of the "Ross Lake Watershed" shows the land management units on both sides of the border. 
She gave a shout-out to NCCC for getting the Park created & stopping the High Ross Dam.
Grizzly bear recovery EIS work will be the next frontier of cross-border cooperation, she said. Asked if her partners in BC thought they still had enough Grizzlies to augment the population on our side of the border, she said it sounded like they did, but that would be part of the EIS workup. 

"Inspiration for the Future of Wilderness" was the theme of the finale in the main pavilion. 
Robert Glenn Ketchum talked about how he went from rock-and-roll to outdoor photographer, with a slideshow of his stunning images of the Tongass, where his photos of clearcutting raised popular outcry. 
The closing keynote speech by Dave Foreman was like a sermon - Dave pointed out it was Sunday morning so there was no better time to call-out sin and make sure we all know what's right and wrong. "When the Nature Conservancy says the passenger pigeon went extinct, and it hasn't made much of a difference, saying that is a sin!"
He proceeded to remind us of how J. J. Audubon witnessed the sky turned dark for 3 days by a flock of passenger pigeons, until the day when the last one died in captivity. 
He exhorted us all to "listen to the hush" under a tree next time we're in a wild place.
He countered those who would claim we've now so dominated the planet that we can do whatever we choose in the "anthropocene," with his spirited defense of the untamed wild. 
Then he left the stage, not with a wolf howl as we expected, but with his rendition of a flock of chickadees!
Ken Brower was in the hotel drive as we left and told us he wondered who would be the next great voice of the environment... It's a question worth pondering. 

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Wilderness50 Day 4

Last night we thoroughly enjoyed the NM premiere of the new film about Ed Abbey, "Wrenched!" at the historic KiMo Theater downtown, part of #Wilderness50. You've got to see this one! Go to for info. Dave Foreman, Terry Tempest Williams and others including the filmmaker ML Lincoln answered questions afterward.

First session this morning, NCCC President Karl Forsgaard presented on ORV problems in the North Cascades, one of his specialties.
We heard how Reiter Forest was saved after becoming a magnet for west side ORVs, and an explanation of how motorized NRAs were built into the Yakima Plan. (These are topics NCCC has been very active in, and the back story is in our journal The Wild Cascades.) The audience response was very positive - one complimented Karl on giving one of the best presentations of the conference. 

The mid-day keynotes were from author Douglas Brinkley, astronaut Joseph Acaba, and historian Doug Scott. 

Brinkley (above) and Scott helped us remember that we truly are standing on the shoulders of giants, those who came before us in the movement, and how important our work is today as we carry the torch. Astronaut Acaba gave a great slideshow of his trip to the International Space Station, and told how the view from there really put things in perspective for him and solidified his passion for this little blue marble we live on. 

NCCC's Polly Dyer was called out for a special round of applause after a young woman in the Q&Q session challenged the 3 men on stage to balance the gender gap. Later I gave her my best and got this snapshot of her with historian John Concillo. 

Then a few of us escaped the Hotel and visited Petroglyph National Monument just a half hour away, ironically now nearly surrounded by suburbs. From there we walked the trails in the Rio Grande Nature Center, where a wetland was recreated in the "Bosque" or cottonwood forest along the river, and displays in the visitor center show how ongoing work is partially restoring this heavily channelized river. The cottonwood are near peak of fall color now!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Wilderness50 Day 3

Forgot to post this one from Wednesday - apparently they believe all fires start in Wilderness and are the work of the devil and a government conspiracy...

Today's #Wilderness50 sessions started off with Jack Oelfke of NOCA talking about how much trammeling will accompany wildlife restoration programs in "our" Park. 
The conclusion was clear - predators had been largely extirpated by the time the Park became Wilderness in '88, so the short-term use of mechanized means to recover those species is more than offset by the long-term ecosystem benefits of restoring predators. Some comments challenged the Park Service's frequent use of helicopters in Wilderness as a foregone conclusion. 
Next I attended a talk by a documentary producer working on a film honoring William O. "Wild Bill" Douglas, our northwest SCOTUS Justice who championed so many wilderness causes. 
A film that came to us from our co-founder's collection, "Beach Hike" from the '57 Olympic Beach march led by WOD, will add some live color footage, previously unknown, to the documentary. The trailer short will appear in the Film Gala tomorrow. 

Over lunch, heads of the 4 Federal Agencies who administer Wilderness signed the "2020 Vision: Interagency stewardship priorities" document, pledging to coordinate their efforts for Wilderness. 
Then I really enjoyed a session about the future of Wilderness, with George Nickas of Wilderness Watch and the legendary Dave Foreman of Rewilding Institute:
More to come...

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Wilderness50 Day 2

Morning and evening keynotes here at #Wilderness50, and a lunch session followed by way too many concurrent sessions that all looked good - wish I could have attended all of them.

Sally Jewell delivered an upbeat morning keynote with stories of recent success like Organ Mountain Natl Monument.

The house was packed for Ken Brower as he recalled Cascade Pass trips as a child with his famous father, then issued a rousing call to action for the new generation of activists. 

I made sure Ken got copies of our most recent issues of The Wild Cascades and invited him to get in touch next time he's in Seattle and come see the Goldsworthy collection. 

The economic benefits of Wilderness were discussed during lunch by business leaders in the outdoor industry. Tourism has supplanted extractive industries just as the Wilderness pioneers said it would. The coming baby boom retirement surge will bring that many more outdoor enthusiasts to the equipment suppliers and gateway communities. 

Brock Evans and Doug Scott hosted a history session and shared their personal stories of how the Wilderness Act came to be, including the compromises and complications of politics.

The late afternoon Science and Law sessions I attended were SRO, packed with interesting research results and challenging dialog.

After dinner the evening keynote featured author Terry Tempest Williams in a lyrical call for renewed direct action. "We can do this!" 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Wilderness50 Day 1 -opening ceremony

New Mexico Senator Martin Heinrich called out Patty Murray and her role in Wild Sky Wilderness in his opening keynote address, as well as mentioning the Alpine Lakes additions bill among those pending projects that deserve high priority. 

And folk singer Bart Koehler got the crowd singing his version of Amazing Grace!
...ending with a full audience coyote howl!
President Jimmy Carter delivered a recorded address to the conference, reminding us of how the Wilderness Preservation System was doubled by additions in Alaska during his term, and how much remains threatened there, including the coastal plain of ANWR, of course. Ken Brower and Sally Jewell will talk about that tomorrow morning. 
Among the wilderness greats I saw at the reception afterward was our own Polly Dyer (famous for having suggested the word "untrammeled" to Howard Zahniser) and Donna Osseward, John Miles and Saul Weisberg of NCI and Harry Romberg of the NW chapter of Sierra Club.

Wilderness50 day -1: Sevilleta science

We spent all day today at one of the NWRs we visited yesterday, Sevilleta, about 50 mi. south of Albuquerque. 
The Univ. Of NM operates a research station there, which we visited first for orientation.
Then we hit the road (dirt tracks across the grasslands, with some severe washboarding - whew!) through locked gates to see the experiment stations the UNM folks are operating. Led by Scott, a gregarious and articulate Biologist who's Deputy Director of the research station, we saw a series of large and small devices that simulate climate stress and measure the response of the ecosystem. The  results are being used for climate modeling and carbon cycle studies. One big surprise is how important the carbon storage of grasslands like these is - in part because so much of the earth's surface is covered by grasslands. 
Here's Scott explaining and automated rig to raise nighttime temperatures at the surface a few degrees, simulating the expected 50 year future climate. 
The space and distance were stunning to a northwesterner:

We didn't get to see the wolf pens on the Refuge where Mexican gray wolves are being readied for reintroduction to Gila Wilderness, but the remote canyon where this takes place was pointed out. Gila has the noteriety of being Also Leopold's original Wilderness Areas dating back to the 20s, so that's a Wilderness connection.
We crossed the eastern unit of the NWR to look at a drought simulator in the Junioer-Pine forest in the mountains. It's dry enough as it is here, but the goal is to see what survives if you take away half of the scant precip here now. The plastic troughs are spaced a few feet apart and catch half the rain, so the trees growing in the test plot experience drought 50% worse than the rest, and the results are measured. 

Now we're heading back north to the city. The official opening ceremony and reception is this evening. Then comes 3 1/2 days of sessions in the hotel. I'll miss these field trips!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Wilderness50 Day -2

Two days before the #Wilderness50 conference begins and we're taking field trips with the FWS to Wildlife Refuges south of Albuquerque. Valle de Oro is a former dairy farm just 20 mi. south of the city - in the first stages of conversion to a bird sanctuary on the banks of the Rio Grande. 
Then we headed south to Sevilleta, where we hiked up an arroyo that became a slot canyon full of hoodoos!

Parts of Sevillita are Wilderness, up in the rugged peaks. 

Finally we ended up in Bosque del Apache NWR, a bioengineered wetland supporting migratory cranes:
A very wet area in a very dry state. 
Tomorrow our whole day will be at the research station in Sevillita, where they have Mexican wolves they're preparing for reintroduction. 

Sunday, October 12, 2014

NCCC will be blogging from the National Wilderness Conference next week

Phil Fenner and Karl Forsgaard of NCCC will be at the National Wilderness Conference next week, and Phil will be "live-blogging" about it from the conference... watch for his (probably at least) daily posts!

Karl will be on a panel discussion next Saturday morning:
Motorized Recreation: Threats and opportunities in the wilderness context (panel) - Karl Forsgaard, North Cascades Conservation Council; Bethanie Walder, WildEarth Guardians; Terry Weiner, Desert Protective Council 

Other Cascades notables presenting at the conference include:
Jack Oelfke, National Park Service: Rewilding the North Cascades: Is it worth the cost of trammeling?
Michael “Brock” Evans, Endangered Species Coalition: Wilderness As A Cultural Force in American History
Karen Taylor-Goodrich, National Park Service: Managing in Context: An international case study

The Conference organizers encourage you to post the following on their social media feeds:
Wilderness is the thread that connects us all. There's no better time to remember that than during the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act! People from across the country are in Albuquerque this week celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act. #Wilderness50

Book launch event featured display of NCCC historical items

Braided River invited us to display some of the more significant items from our archives at Friday evening's book launch party for The North Cascades: Finding Beauty and Renewal in the Wild Nearby (see previous post).

Here's our display, before the crowds arrived:

Maps, panels, books and photos dating back to the all NCCC's major conservation campaigns, from Glacier Peak Wilderness and the Miners Ridge Open Pit copper mine, through the designation of North Cascades National Park and High Ross Dam controversy. The vast majority of this material came from the collection of the late NCCC co-founder Patrick Goldsworthy, courtesy of Patrick's widow, Christine White, to whom we wish to express our gratitude.

A rare 1953 revised edition of Fred Becky's original climbing guide from 1949, The Cascades and Olympics is in the collection, and our board member Tom Hammond took great pleasure in showing it to Fred himself!

Lead author Bill Dietrich read from his essay in the new book, Christian Martin described some of the interviews he did, Paul Bannick enlivened the evening with his owl photos, and Craig Romano took us on some of his favorite virtual hikes, all to a packed house in the Goodman rooms at the Mountaineers.

We'll soon be making a limited number of NCCC Logo Editions of the new book available on our website, and will announce that soon!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

North Cascades: Finding Beauty and Renewal in the Wild Nearby - Launch party this Friday at 6pm in Seattle!

Come celebrate the first major new book about our favorite mountains in... 30+ years! NCCC was involved in the project from its inception, and our members Thom Schroeder and Ethan Welty got the front and back cover photos - Ethan's photos is on the launch party announcement (above)!
Tickets to the event THIS FRIDAY are just $10, order HERE. We have an item in the silent auction and will be showing a table of historical items from Cascades conservation efforts dating back to our inception in '57! See you there!