Posts Tagged ‘Cascadia Wildlands’

Nov06

Revenge Forestry: A Flare-up in the Elliott State Forest (an Excerpt)

October 14, 2014
by Jonathan Frochtzwajg, Oregon Business Magazine
 
When the Eugene-based timber company Seneca Jones made a $1.8 million bid on land in southern Oregon's Elliott State Forest earlier this year, it wasn't a business decision; it was personal. The 788-acre parcel (along with twoSeneca Clearcut at Dawn other parcels in the Elliott) had been put up for auction at the end of 2013.
 
Just before bidding was scheduled to end, the environmental group Cascadia Forest Defenders sent a letter to Seneca Jones and other Oregon timber companies.
 
Click here to view full article
 

Sep02

Advocates Vow to Protect Devil’s Staircase Wilderness

by Zach Urness
Salem Statesman Journal
August 31, 2014
 
The first time Andy Stahl heard about the Devil's Staircase, it was little more than a wilderness myth.
 
Rumors of a spectacular waterfall hidden deep within one of the Coast Range's most remote and inaccessible canyons spread through Oregon State University's Environmental Center in the late 1970s like sightings of Bigfoot, sparking debate among students about whether this central coast Shangri-La actually existed.
 
Every bushwhacking adventure into the thick, cliff-walled jungle surrounding Wassen Creek — the supposed location of the fabled cascade — ended in failure, often after a miserable rain-soaked night in the wild.
 
"Year after year, students at Oregon State attempted to find it, and every time they failed," Stahl said. "It wasn't something that could be found on a map. It didn't have an official name, there certainly wasn't a trail, and the land is just damn hard to get through. A lot of people thought it didn't exist."
 
In 1981, the forestry graduate decided the mystery had to be solved. With a young environmental activist named Sherry Wellborn — who would later become his wife — Stahl traversed over 30 miles of Wassen Creek in tennis shoes.
 
The trip would not only prove Devil's Staircase did exist — and that it was as beautiful as hoped — it would set in motion a three-decade effort to preserve one of the largest remaining old-growth ecosystems in Oregon's Central Coast Range.
 
The effort to safeguard the 200-foot Douglas firs and cedars, spotted owl and coho salmon habitat, and dense interior valleys surrounding Devil's Staircase and Wassen Creek — a landscape nestled between the Smith and Umpqua rivers east of Reedsport — has been a quixotic journey that began in the early 1980s.
 
It has twice survived the threat of logging while coming within a razor's edge of being protected by Congress in 1984. It has come within striking distance of being protected as the 30,540 acre Devil's Staircase Wilderness multiple times since 2009 yet has always come just short.
 
With the 50th anniversary of Wilderness Act on Sept. 3 — a landmark piece of legislation aimed at preserving the nation's most important landscapes in their natural state — the Devil's Staircase offers a glimpse into the past and present struggle to preserve one of Oregon's wildest places.
 
Wassen Creek flows through dense old-growth forest in a remote canyon in Oregon's Central Coast Range east of Reedsport.
 
The main thing Stahl remembers about that three-day trip down the length of Wassen Creek was how isolated he felt in a 1,800-foot canyon that hadn't changed much since Columbus set sail.
 
This struck him as remarkable, especially since the Coast Range has been the realm of logging for more than a century. Forest Service, BLM and private logging roads bisect the vast majority of forest. Much of the landscape is a checkerboard of tree farms, clear-cuts, second growth, or some combination.
 
Yet within Wassen Creek, home to almost 26,000 acres of intact old-growth, Stahl found a deeper solitude than anywhere he'd previously traveled.
 
Massive Douglas fir and cedars rose 200 feet into the canopy overhead. In three days he saw more wildlife — black bear, river otter, elk and signs of cougar — than during a year's worth of hiking and backpacking.
 
On the third day, they found the Devil's Staircase, where Wassen Creek drops 50 feet down a series of sandstone tiers.
 
"It struck me that we were as isolated geographically as I had ever been in my life — the cliffs were so sheer that if one of us broke an ankle, I didn't have any idea how we'd get out," Stahl said. "I saw no evidence of humans — not a fire ring, blaze on a tree or boot mark. It was remarkable — not a canella of human presence."
 
THE FIRST THREAT OF LOGGING
Not long after Stahl's epic trip, in 1982, Siuslaw National Forest proposed a timber sale that would have led to a 400-acre cut in the Wassen Creek area.
 
The proposal sparked the first effort to preserve the area.
 
Environmental activists convinced then-Sen. Mark Hatfield to write a letter holding off the sale. In 1983, the National Wildlife Federation filed suit claiming the area's steep slopes and shallow, unstable soils on the Mapleton Ranger District were highly susceptible to landslides following timber harvests, which damage waterways.
 
The court ordered the Forest Service to conduct an environmental review and produce an Environmental Impact Statement before offering to sell, "any timber on the Mapleton Ranger District other than limited commercial thinning … firewood … greenery sales and salvage of dead and downed timber sales."
 
The result was dramatic. Timber harvests fell from 75 million board feet in 1983 to 15 million broad feet in 1984 on the Mapleton Ranger District. Many residents blamed the lawsuit for closing the mills and the city's loss of jobs.
 
The Wassen Creek area was originally included for protection under the 1984 Oregon Wilderness Act. A cap placed on acreage in the bill forced then-Rep. Jim Weaver to choose between a wilderness area in Southern Oregon and Wassen Creek.
 
Wassen Creek was the odd wilderness out.
 
RE-ENERGIZED
Without wilderness protection, but under no real threat from logging, the Devil's Staircase and Wassen Creek area went quiet as the Forest Wars raged in other parts of the state.
 
The area was declared critical habitat for the spotted owl by the Endangered Species Act in the early 1990s and the Northwest Forest Plan provided additional protection in 1994, but it never received the wilderness stroke of Congress.
 
The quiet period ended in 2006 when a 5,000-acre section of the proposed wilderness was included in a draft of the Western Oregon Plan Revision by the Bureau of Land Management to become Timber Management Area.
 
The inclusion re-energized the wilderness campaign around Devil's Staircase and Wassen Creek that hit full bore in 2007.
 
Editorials, rallies, media attention and even visits by two of Oregon's congressional delegation — Rep. Peter DeFazio and Sen. Jeff Merkley, who bushwhacked to the waterfall — brought renewed emphasis to preserving the area as wilderness.
 
Rep. DeFazio has introduced a bill giving the area wilderness protection three times in the House since 2009. Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden and Sen. Merkley have introduced similar bills in the Senate three times as well. It passed the full Senate in June with unanimous consent but is a long shot to pass the House.
 
AWKWARD POSITION
Wassen Creek remains as difficult to reach today as it did when Stahl made his trip more than 30 years ago.
 
While some rugged roads provide access along its borders, and barely visible game trails can be followed in places, this roadless, pathless forest remains as difficult to penetrate as ever.
 
Only around 100 people per year, all with strong navigational skills, endure the hellacious bushwhack into Wassen Creek and Devil's Staircase. Multiple people have been lost or spent an unexpected night among the densely forested ravines attempting to locate the staircase.
 
But while the forest has changed little, the political climate has taken an unexpected twist during the past few months.
 
The Devil's Staircase Wilderness bill is now part of a larger package of bills in the House (authored by Rep. DeFazio) and Senate (authored by Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden). The package would protect some areas, like the Devil's Staircase, while increasing logging on Oregon's federal O&C lands.
 
This has put supporters in a tough spot. In some cases, long-term proponents of the wilderness are now fighting the very bill that would finally make the Devil's Staircase Wilderness a reality.
 
"It's an incredibly awkward spot to be put in after the bill was advancing on its own merits," said Josh Laughlin, who has visited the Devil's Staircase area more than 20 times and is campaign director for Cascadia Wildlands, an Eugene-based environmental group.
 
"It's one of the wildest places in Oregon — really a magnificent slice of what the Coast Range once looked like. The Devil's Staircase deserves to stand on its own."
 
Zach Urness has been an outdoors writer, photographer and videographer in Oregon for seven years. He is the author of "Hiking Southern Oregon" and can be reached at zurness@Statesman Journal.com or (503) 399-6801. Find him on Facebook at Zach's Oregon Outdoors.
 
ABOUT THIS SERIES
Today's installment is the first of a two-part series about the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act, exploring both the fight to create new wilderness in the example of the proposed Devils Staircase Wilderness and its history in Oregon.
 
The series continues Monday with dramatic examples of what can happen when nature and human nature collide over the restrictions inherent in the act.
 
50th ANNIVERSARY OF THE WILDERNESS ACT
On Sept. 3, 1964, Lyndon Johnson signed into law one of the most significant bills in environmental conservation into law. The Wilderness Act provides the highest level of protection for landscapes deemed worth both nationally and locally.
 
Five percent of the United States (and 2.7 percent of the Lower 48) and four percent of Oregon are protected under the Wilderness Act. In this two-part series, the Statesman Journal explores both the fight to create new wilderness — in the example of the proposed Devil's Staircase Wilderness — and its history in Oregon.
 
"A wilderness, in contrast with those areas where man and his own works dominate the landscape, is hereby recognized as an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain."
 
– Text of Wilderness Act
 
 
 

Jul21

Observations from the BLM’s Buck Rising Timber Sale Field Tour

By Rory Isbell, Cascadia Wildlands Legal Intern
 
Fellow intern Rance and I recently joined Cascadia Wildlands’ Conservation Director Francis Eatherington on a public tour of the Buck Rising timber sale on BLM land east of Myrtle Creek, Oregon.  The tour was organized by the BLM Roseburg District office in order to demonstrate the results of the timber sale and gain feedback from the public.  Officially, the project is called the Buck Rising Variable Retention Regeneration Harvest (VRH), and is one of four demonstration projects currently underway on BLM lands in Western Oregon.  The demonstration projects are mandated by the Secretary of the Interior in order to increase logging on O&C lands.  The Buck Rising project was initially proposed and sold as a thinning project that would cut and harvest 60 year old trees originally planted as a plantation to accelerate the development of
Buck Rising unit 3

Buck Rising unit 3, a clearcut by most definitions.

late-successional habitat necessary to the survival of the Northern Spotted Owl – habitat now drastically underrepresented on public lands in Western Oregon.  In order to appease political pressures for increased logging on O&C lands, however, the Buck Rising thinning project was re-sold as a secretarial demonstration project.  The project’s silvicultural prescription, VRH, was developed by Drs. Johnson and Franklin, professors of forestry at Oregon State University.
 
The BLM-hosted field tour provided a first look at the aftermath of a “variable retention regeneration harvest."  Because Senator Ron Wyden’s O&C Bill utilizes the VRH method, and because all BLM districts in Western Oregon are considering the VRH method in the development of new Resource Management Plans that set the standards and guidelines for timber harvest in Oregon, the Buck Rising project is especially significant.  The tour began by passing through a locked gate on adjacent private industrial forestry land and ascending to an overlook where all three units of the Buck Rising project are visible.
 
Questions immediately arose form the public regarding the Buck Rising project’s compliance with the Northwest Forest Plan and the current BLM Roseburg District Resource Management Plan.  Those concerns came to a head upon crossing the boundary into unit three of the Buck Rising VRH.
 
While some clumps of trees were retained, most retention occurred in buffers along riparian areas.  In non-riparian areas, only 10% of trees were retained.  The BLM stresses the ecological benefits of early-successional habitat development, including flowers, nectars, fruits, and forage herbs for wildlife, and refuses to call the harvest a clearcut.  Many concerned members of the public, however, noted the lack of snags and remnant dead wood necessary to healthy and natural early-successional habitat development.  Cascadia Wildlands’ own Francis Eatherington continually noted how one of three BLM project objectives includes creating forage foliage for elk and deer, yet within a mile away on private
Buck rising slide

One of the tour stops was at a landslide in one of the Buck Rising logging units.

industrial timber land, timber companies recently petitioned ODFW for a public deer hunt in order to curb the abnormally high deer populations feeding on the omnipresent early-successional conditions on their post-clearcut plantations.
 
After lunch and a short drive to Buck Rising Unit 2, we saw the remnant debris of the slope failure event that occurred in February following timber harvest and heavy rains (http://www.cascwild.org/wyden-style-clearcut-causes-mudslide-on-oc-lands/).
 
By the end of a tour full of adversarial discussion, consensus was decisively lacking.  Understanding, however, was plentiful.  The concerned public understands the tough position that the Roseburg District BLM finds itself.  While the Northwest Forest Plan calls for the restoration of the range of the Northern Spotted Owl by limiting timber harvest on federal lands, the O&C Act along with political pressures from Senator Wyden and the Department of the Interior call for increased timber harvest as a short term economic benefit.  The BLM also understands that the concerned public wants tall, biodiverse forests on our public lands, and streams clear of sediment and full of salmon, and that we are dedicated to holding our public lands agencies accountable to those goals.
 
 

Jul11

Press Release: Bull Trout Harmed by Years of Agency Inaction, Legal Action Initiated

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Nick Cady, Cascadia Wildlands, 314-482-3746
John Meyer, Cottonwood Environmental Law Center, 406-587-5800
Travis Bruner, Western Watersheds Project, 208-788-2290
Sarah Peters, WildEarth Guardians, 541-345-0299
 
Bozeman, MT – Nearly four years after critical habitat protection was granted to bull trout, federal land management agencies have still not determined whether existing land management plans are compatible with protecting the fish. Today, conservation groups Cottonwood Environmental Law Center, WildEarth Guardians, Western Watersheds Project, and Cascadia Wildlands sent a notice of intent to sue to both the Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service over failures to properly evaluate the consequences of actions taken within bull trout critical habitat.
 
Bull trout (Salvelinus confluentus) formerly ranged throughout the Columbia River and Snake River basins, extending east to headwater streams
bull_trout (US Fish and Wildlife Service)

Bull trout require cold, clear water for survival. (Photo by USFWS)

in Montana and Idaho, into Canada, and in the Klamath River basin of south-central Oregon. Unfortunately, human activities have driven the trout close to extinction. Activities adjacent to streams, such as logging, grazing, road construction, and off-road vehicle use, increase water temperature and add sediment to bull trout habitat. Of all fish species found in western rivers and streams, bull trout need the coldest and cleanest water, making them particularly vulnerable to water quality impacts.
 
“It isn’t just the logging, grazing, road construction and ORV use that threatens these fish,” said John Meyer, Executive Director of Cottonwood Environmental Law Center and attorney on the case. “Those threats are compounded by increasing water temperatures due to climate change. The agencies really must address impacts in critical habitat if bull trout are going to survive.
 
Bull trout were protected as a threatened species in 1999 and critical habitat was designated in 2010. Designated critical habitat for the bull trout includes 19,729 miles of stream and 488,251.7 acres of reservoirs and lakes in the States of Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Idaho, and Montana. With this designation, the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management were required to consult with the Fish and Wildlife Service. Consultation requires the agency to take a step back from on-going and proposed management actions to make sure bull trout are recovering in these specially protected areas.
 
 “Unfortunately, the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management have continued with business as usual,” said Travis Bruner, Executive Director of Western Watersheds Project “We hope that this notice causes them to change course and start protecting bull trout.”
 
“Bull trout are the ‘canary in the coal mine’ for water quality and water quantity in western states,” said Sarah Peters of WildEarth Guardians. “Protecting them protects a whole suite of aquatic species as well as the watersheds on which human communities increasingly depend.”
 
 "The Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management need a 'time out' until they talk to fish  experts about the impacts of their landscape management projects on the imperiled bull trout," says Nick Cady, Legal Director with Cascadia Wildlands. "Otherwise, this iconic fish will continue its perilous journey towards extinction."
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Jun09

Press Release: Petition Filed to Require Nonlethal Steps to Control Washington Wolves

For Immediate Release, June 9, 2014
 
Contacts:
Amaroq Weiss, Center for Biological Diversity, (707) 779-9613
Josh Laughlin, Cascadia Wildlands, (541) 844-8182
Mike Petersen, The Lands Council, (509) 209-2406
John Mellgren, Western Environmental Law Center, (541) 525-5087
 
OLYMPIA, Wash.— Eight conservation groups filed a petition late Friday requesting that the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife enact rules that sharply limit the use of lethal control of wolves to respond to livestock depredations. Most prominently the petition asks the state to require livestock producers to exhaust nonlethal measures to prevent depredations before any lethal action can be taken. In 2012 the Department killed seven wolves in the Wedge Pack despite the fact that the livestock producer who had lost livestock had taken little action to protect his stock.2019372475
 
“The killing of the Wedge Pack in 2012 was a tragic waste of life that highlights the need for clear rules to limit the killing of wolves, which remain an endangered species in the state,” said Amaroq Weiss, West Coast wolf organizer with the Center for Biological Diversity. “There are effective nonlethal measures proven to protect livestock that can, and should, be used before killing wolves is ever considered.”
 
The groups filed a similar petition last summer. They withdrew it based on a promise from the Department to negotiate rules — in an advisory committee established to help implement Washington’s Wolf Conservation and Management Plan — that would encourage the use of nonlethal measures by ranchers as well as produce standards for the Department to adhere to before itself resorting to lethal control of wolves. But livestock producer and sports-hunting groups on the committee refused to consider the petitioners’ proposals, and the Department has indicated it plans to move forward and introduce its own far-less-protective lethal wolf-control rule.
 
The groups also argue that rules are needed to ensure adherence to Washington’s wolf plan, which was crafted with input from a 17-member stakeholder group, more than 65,000 written comments from the public, and a peer review by 43 scientists and wolf managers. Despite the plan’s formal adoption by the Fish and Wildlife Commission in 2011 as official state policy, Department officials and the Commission have publicly stated they view the plan as merely advisory and key provisions of the plan were ignored when the Wedge Pack was killed. The Commission also adopted a rule last summer that allows wolves to be killed under circumstances the wolf plan does not permit, and the Department has proposed additional changes and definitions of terms to allow even more wolf killing.
 
“The return of wolves is a boon for Washington,” said Mike Petersen, executive director for The Lands Council. “Not only is it good for the forest and mountains of Washington that need the balance provided by top predators, but a fledgling tourist industry is developing around the viewing of this majestic creature.”
 
Wolves were driven to extinction in Washington in the early 1900s by a government-sponsored eradication program on behalf of the livestock industry. They began to return from neighboring Idaho and British Columbia in the early 2000s, and their population has grown to 52 wolves today. Yet Washington’s wolves are far from recovered and face ongoing threats. Last fall a wolf in Pasayten was killed by a deer hunter, and in April of this year, a reward was offered by state officials and conservation groups for information leading to the arrest and prosecution of those responsible for the illegal shooting of a wolf found dead in February in Stevens County. 
 
The petition to increase protections for wolves was filed by groups representing tens of thousands of Washington residents, including the Center for Biological Diversity, Cascadia Wildlands, Western Environmental Law Center, Gifford Pinchot Task Force, The Lands Council, Wildlands Network, Kettle Range Conservation Group and the Washington State Chapter of the Sierra Club.
 
Today’s filing of the petition with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission starts the clock ticking on a 60-day statutory period within which the state must respond. If the petition is denied, groups intend to appeal for a final decision by Governor Inslee.
 
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Jun06

Carolyn comes to Cascadia!

Greetings! My name is Carolyn Candela, and I’m the new Development and Operations Manager at Cascadia Wildlands. I am currently finishing up my247836_3825305555577_318330377_n Masters degree in Nonprofit Management at the University of Oregon. I came onto the staff part time at the beginning of May, and will be transitioning into a full time position by the end of June. Many of you who gave during our Spring Appeal already know my name because you have received acknowledgment letters and e-mails from me. Thank you again to all who gave this spring!
 
This summer, I will be in charge of Pints Gone Wild!, our monthly Ninkasi fundraiser where 25% of all pint sales go to support Cascadia Wildlands. Currently, I am keeping my ears open for a band to play at September’s event. If you know of any local bands that you think would like to play, please let me know! I hope to see some of you that I haven’t had the chance to meet yet at one (or more!) of these events. There will be further information coming out about Pints! in our next e-news. I’m also looking forward to promoting Cascadia Wildlands at other community events this summer, including the Oregon Country Fair and Whitaker Block Party.
 
Talking about other events.  Right now, I am working on organizing a Northwest book tour this September promoting the release of the paperback version of Todd Wilkinson’s new book, Last Stand, which chronicles Ted Turner’s life and his approach to conservation.  Our ED Bob Ferris will be touring with Todd and talking about Cascadia Wildlands version of conservation.  We are currently looking to secure a venues in Eugene, Portland, Seattle, Bellingham and Vancouver, BC. If you know of a venue that may be willing to host us, please let me know. There will be more details on the book tour coming soon. Pretty exciting!
 
I will also be sending out a survey during the summer months that will allow me to learn more about you, and your interests in supporting Cascadia Wildlands. I’m really excited to get to know each of you more personally through our various donor campaigns and events!
 
As I have mentioned, I’m very excited about getting to know each and every one of you, and becoming more familiar with your individual interests in Cascadia Wildlands. I’m looking to arrange several house parties and dinner events where we can meet and get to know each other better. I’d also like to hear about any suggestions that you may have for social gatherings. Would any of you be interested in hosting a social event, such as a house party?
 
If you have any questions, or would like to say hello and introduce yourself, please contact me at carolyn [at] cascwild.org. I look forward to hearing from all of you in the coming months!
 
Thank you for all of your wonderful support!
 
Warm Regards,
Carolyn
 
 
 
 

May20

Murrelets Found at East Hakki Land Sale on Elliott State Forest

by the Coos Bay World
May 19
 
COOS BAY — The new owners of a controversial tract of South Coast forest land auctioned off this spring may face new obstacles to harvesting its timber.
 
Coast Range Forest Watch, an environmentalist group that conducts marbled murrelet surveys in the Elliott State Forest, says it’s recently detected murrelet nesting behavior in the East Hakki Ridge parcel.
 
The parcel was recently auctioned off to Eugene-based Seneca Jones Timber.
 
The Department of State Lands cited the declining value of the state’s Common School Fund, fed by timber proceeds from the Elliott,Marbled Murrelet -large as its motivation for the sales.
 
Forest Watch volunteer Amanda St. Martin said that in order to determine marbled murrelet nesting behavior, surveyors need to witness murrelets flying at or below canopy height in that area.
 
She said that May 13 and 14, volunteers saw just that.
 
“Two surveyors on two separate days saw them flying below canopy height,” St. Martin said. “That’s a pretty good indication that they need that area to nest or to get to their nest.”
 
Logging in identified marbled murrelet habitat in the Elliott was barred in 2012 under a federal district court injunction.
 
But East Hakki Ridge wasn’t covered by that injunction because it had never been surveyed for murrelet nesting activity.
St. Martin said the group is trying to change that.
 
“We have already submitted the data to Oregon Department of Forestry, Fish and Wildlife and the Department of State Lands,” she said.
 
The East Hakki Ridge is already the subject of a lawsuit filed by Cascadia Wildlands, the Portland Audubon Society and the Center for Biological Diversity.
 
The groups are seeking to have the parcel’s sale to Seneca Jones blocked on the grounds that state law prohibits the sale of state forest lands originally belonging to the federal government.

 

May02

Throwdown at the Hoedown: Grab the Kids and Come on Down on May 10!

by Josh Laughlin
 
I remember the first Hoedown for Cascadia's Ancient Forests real well. It was back in the early days of Cascadia Wildlands in the early 2000s when we were trying to figure out how to creatively raise revenue to support our conservation programs and have fun at the same time. Why not throw a beer party at a board member's horse-riding facility in the countryside near Cottage Grove, pipe in some bluegrass music through the riding arena speakers and bring in a caller? We all like keg beer, bluegrass and Lane County's pastoral countryside, right? But what about square dancing? It seemed like a recipe for possible success. We went for it.
 
It is likely we found the conservative, cowgirl who called out the squares to canned country music records in theMeg "services offered" section of the Cottage Grove Sentinel.  Somehow, people turned out. In droves. Perhaps it was the biodiesel shuttle bus from Eugene with a keg on it that lured the crowd. It was fun watching people who have never square danced before alemaning and dosidoing thier partners under the covered horse arena as cold drizzle fell and a large bonfire raged that October evening. Volunteers even had to make an emergency late-night run into Cottage Grove to find a dive bar and another keg to keep the crowd fueled and dancing into the night.
 
The Hoedown has grown up a bit since then. Ninkasi, Oakshire Brewing, the Eugene Weekly and others sponsor the event. 40 volunteers make it happen. We've replaced the turntable with live bluegrass. Cutting-edge bands like the Dickel Brothers, Fog Horn String Band, and Conjugal Visitors have graced the flatbed trailer stage and picked to renowned square dance callers, like Bob Ewing, who has called the dances at the Hoedown for at least the last four years. This year, we've got Blue Flags and Black Grass lined up to whip you all into a square dancing frenzy. But it is absolutely still the same Hoedown at the same beautiful property with great live bluegrass and amazing community members joining together to celebrate the beauty of Cascadia through square dancing, networking and merry making into the night. If you are a prospective first-timer, click here for more information on the Hoedown. 
 
Hoedown 2014 April 28, 2014I hope you will join us for the 11th annual Hoedown for Cascadia's Ancient Forests this May 10, from 6-10:30 pm. We've got kids (and adult) activities planned, including a tater sack race, water balloon toss and mini soccer with the Red Aces of Eugene Metro Futbol Club. It is lining up to be a spectacular evening with a veggie chili dinner, libations and good times to be had in the countryside just west of Cottage Grove. Click the button below for advance tickets and round trip shuttle bus ride from Eugene. Cascadia WIldlands looks forward to seeing you at Avalon Stables on May 10. Don't leave your Hoedown attire in the closet!
 

 

Mar13

HB77 testimony: Revised water rights bill roundly panned, except by mining interests

By Pat Forgey Alaska Dispatch
March 13, 2014
 
HB 77, a bill that would streamline water use permitting, pits mining interests against tribal groups, fisherman and environmentalists.
shepardwaterfall500
 
JUNEAU — Modest changes to Gov. Parnell's controversial pro-development House Bill 77 haven't won it any new friends, but outraged those who were told they'd have only limited opportunity to comment on it.
 
"I think it is perfectly ludicrous that we're not getting enough time to comment on a bill that would remove our ability to comment," said Rosemary McGuire, a Cordova commercial fisherman.
 
House Bill 77 is aimed at speeding up permitting for development proposals, especially for small, seemingly innocuous projects, often by limiting public review. But at a public hearing Wednesday in the Senate Finance Committee, many said they feared its effects would go way beyond what was stated.
 
The bill stalled last year after House passage when Senators got concerned after hearing from constituents. After 10 months of revisions, the public was given two days to review it, and then one and a half hours to comment on it.
 
Senate Finance Committee Chair Cathy Giessel, R-Anchorage, was brutal with the gavel, cutting speakers off in mid-sentence after their customarily allotted two minutes were up. Others said they rushed their statements so that others could be heard.
 
Giessel blocked questions from committee members to those testifying and then closed the oral testimony portion of the hearing after its scheduled time was up. Written testimony could still be submitted, she said.
 
Even so, dozens of people in Legislative Information Offices around the state and those who visited the Capitol hearing room in person appear to have been barred from testifying in person.
Other than two mining industry representatives, the changes to the bill were panned.
 
The bill should have already been killed, the senators were told.
 
"We Alaskans seem to be facing this legislation again for some reason," said Hal Shepherd, executive director of Seward's Center for Water Advocacy.
Among those leading the charge against the House Bill 77 were fishing and environmental groups.
 
The bill would limit the number of permits that the public could comment on, and should be called the "silencing Alaskans act." said Lori Daniel of Homer.
 
One provision of the bill would change how water rights reservations are handled. The public can now file for an in-stream water right, to keep water available for fish and other needs. The Department of Natural Resources won't issue those rights, however, and the bill changes the law to have in-stream water rights being held by the state, rather than individuals, groups or tribes.
Daniel didn't like that either.
 
"This bill still takes power away from the people and hold it in the hand of state government, she said.
 
The bill was initiated by Gov. Sean Parnell, whose administration has warned that environmental groups could use Alaska's laws to prevent development unless they were changed.
Gabe Scott of Homer, Alaska Legal Director for Cascadia Wildlands, spoke against the bill.
 
"I guess we're one of those nonprofits the governor is so fearful of," he said.
The Southeast Alaska Conservation Council's James Sullivan said the Department of Natural Resources is worried about outside groups, but its solution in House Bill 77 would only punish Alaskans.
"Though improvements have been made since last year, House Bill 77 is still a flawed and destructive piece of legislation," he said.
 
Daniel Lum of Barrow said the lopsided testimony made it clear where the public stood on the bill.
 
"Can you not hear the overwhelming majority of Alaskans are against House Bill 77?" he asked.
 
The bill, he said, was the product of an all-powerful government that disregards its own citizens.
 
"This is not China, this is not Russia, but if this passes we'll be just like them," he said.
 
Support for the bill came from mining interests, including Donlin Gold and the Council of Producers, a mining industry group.
 
A statement from Stan Foo, general manager of Donlin Gold, offered support for the bill and regulatory reform in general.
 
"We also support efforts to cut unnecessary red tape without diminishing important environmental standards," Foo's statement said.
 
The closed hearing may reopen, however. Late Wednesday the Alaska Senate Majority announced that Chair Giessel will reopen public testimony on the bill Friday at 3:30 p.m.
 
“As a committee, we believe public testimony is an important part of the process,” said Giessel.  “That’s why it is critical to me, and the others, to give Alaskans an opportunity to have their voices heard.”
 
 

Mar06

Press Release: Washington Wildlife Agency Urged to End Support for Abolishing Federal Wolf Protections

For Immediate Release, March 6, 2014
 
Contacts:
Amaroq Weiss, Center for Biological Diversity, (707) 779-9613
Nick Cady, Cascadia Wildlands, (541) 434-1463
Suzanne Stone, Defenders of Wildlife, (208) 861-4655
Tim Coleman, Kettle Range Conservation Group, (509) 775-2667/(509) 435-1092 (cell)
Rebecca J. Wolfe, Washington State Chapter of the Sierra Club, (425) 750-4091
 
OLYMPIA, Wash.— Eleven conservation organizations representing hundreds of thousands of Washington residents sent a letter to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife today urging the agency to rescind its support for stripping wolves of federal Endangered Species Act protections. The department has repeatedly expressed support for dropping the federal safeguards, most recently in a letter sent to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Dec. 13, 2013. The delisting runs counter to the best available science and ignores the values of the vast majority of Washington residents who want to see federal wolf protections Leopold wolf following grizzly bear;Doug Smith;April 2005maintained.
 
“Most people in Washington want wolves protected. The state department’s perplexing stance is out of step with the science and the values of local residents,” said Amaroq Weiss, West Coast wolf organizer at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Wolves are just beginning to recover in Washington and face continued persecution. Federal protection is clearly needed to keep recovery on track.”
 
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in June 2013 proposed to remove federal endangered species protections for gray wolves across most of the lower 48 states, including in the western two-thirds of Washington. The science underlying the proposal has been sharply criticized by many scientists, including a peer review panel contracted by the federal agency, which unanimously concluded the proposal was not based on the best available science.
 
“The department should have never endorsed the delisting given the extremely controversial and political nature of this issue,” said Nick Cady of Cascadia Wildlands.  “The department should instead be focused on ironing out significant shortcomings within its own wolf program, in order to prevent future regretful decisions, like the extermination of the Wedge pack.”
 
Washington’s wolf population has grown from zero wolves in 2007 to roughly 51 wolves in 10 packs at the start of 2013, with new numbers to be announced this week. The recovery has largely been driven by federal Endangered Species Act protections, which led to the reintroduction of wolves in adjacent Idaho and made it against the law to kill wolves. Wolf recovery in Washington was almost upended when several members of the state’s first pack, known as the Lookout pack, were poached. In 2011 the poachers were caught and prosecuted under federal law and the pack has started to make a comeback. In 2012 the Wedge pack was killed in a department lethal control action over wolf-livestock conflicts on public land. The mass killing resulted in public outrage that the department had acted in violation of the state wolf plan and that the rancher involved had refused to adequately protect his cattle.
 
In February, a wolf was found illegally shot and killed in Stevens County.
 
“The scientific peer review panel was unified in rejecting the federal government’s scientific basis for proposing the national delisting of gray wolves,” said Suzanne Stone with Defenders of Wildlife. “Washington state should withdraw its support of the Service’s delisting proposal and instead advocate that the Service follow the best available science, as required by law, to chart a sustainable recovery path for wolves in Washington and throughout the U.S.”
 
The Department’s support for dropping federal protections for wolves runs contrary to the sentiments of Washington residents, nearly three-quarters of whom oppose delisting, according to a September 2013 poll. That matches the strong support nationwide for continued federal wolf protections demonstrated in a national poll conducted in July 2013.
 
“The protection of wolves as part of our Washington state wildlife is a public trust issue,” said Rebecca Wolfe of the Washington State Chapter of the Sierra Club. “It is the duty of the department to care for the wildlife entrusted to them by the people.”
 
“It’s time for the department to lead, governed by science, not pandering to special interests, mythology, science fiction or their desire to sell hunting licenses,” said Timothy Coleman, executive director of Kettle Range Conservation Group. “Gray wolf reintroduction to Yellowstone National Park showed the species is essential to ecosystem health.  Washington citizens strongly support gray wolf recovery and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife should do all it can to make that happen.”
 
The letter to the department was filed by groups representing hundreds of thousands of Washington residents, including the Center for Biological Diversity, Cascadia Wildlands, The Humane Society of the United States, Western Environmental Law Center, Defenders of Wildlife, Washington State Chapter of the Sierra Club, Wolf Haven International, Gifford Pinchot Task Force, Kettle Range Conservation Group, The Lands Council and Wildlands Network.
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