Protecting Forests and Watersheds

Bunchgrass Ridge, Willamette National Forest. Photo by Brett Cole.

The formation of Cascadia Wildlands in 1998 was catalyzed by the lawless practice of clearcutting temperate ancient forests authorized by the Salvage Rider. As a result of this and continuing threats in this arena, we devote much of our efforts towards protecting old forests as they are critical to the survival of species teetering on the brink of extinction, including the marbled murrelet and northern spotted owl.
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Bringing Back Wolves

Imnaha pack pups 2013 (photo by ODFW).

Through trapping, poisoning and shooting, government agents and bounty hunters killed off every last gray wolf in Oregon, Washington and California by the 1940s. However, the species has begun to make a remarkable comeback in the Pacific West as wolves have migrated west after a successful re-introduction into the northern Rockies in the mid-1990s. Today, approximately 137 individuals and 16 packs or alpha pairs now call Oregon home. Similar numbers have been restored into Washington, with 124 individuals and 22 packs. In 2015, an alpha pair had pups in California for the first time in nearly a century. Today, California has an estimated count of 6 individuals and 1 pack in residence.

Misinformation, fear mongering, poaching and lethal control continue to confront gray wolves as they mount their historic comeback in the Pacific West. Cascadia Wildlands and allies are working tirelessly to protect and restore a viable population of wolves across the Northwest through advocacy, outreach, education and litigation. We are also a founding member and sit on the steering committee of the Pacific Wolf Coalition, which was formed in 2012 to promote gray wolf recovery in the Pacific West. Click here for more information and resources on gray wolf recovery. Visit our chronology of Oregon wolf recovery since 2008.

For more information:
Oregon wolves
Washington wolves
California wolves
Northern Rockies wolves
Maintaining federal wolf protections — currently under threat!



Save Our Wild Salmon Heritage


Spawning salmon. Photo by USFWS.

Cascadia is a bioregion defined by the northeastern Pacific Ocean and the associated watersheds. Those watersheds are filled with rivers, creeks and rivulets and many of those waterways were filled with salmon and steelhead. So salmon—in a very real sense—once defined the place we live in and love. If we continue to squander this precious resource and lose our wild salmon, what does that say about us? We feel strongly that we cannot let that happenstance occur and therefore must restore and protect our wild salmon heritage.
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Combating Climate Change

Climate change is currently the greatest and most formidable threat that we face as a planet. The science supporting climate change is conclusive and repeatedly borne out by myriad weather anomalies and arctic ice patterns, as well as biological phenomenon such as altered timing of migrations and species’ distributions.

Cascadia Wildlands recognizes the immediate need to take action to lower atmospheric greenhouse gases and bring the climate back to a stable condition. We take a two-pronged approach to combating climate change, which includes both halting the fossil fuel industry’s emissions of greenhouse gasses, and defending Cascadia’s forests, which are some of the best in the world for storing carbon.

Transitioning Away from Fossil Fuels:

The Jordan Cove Energy Project: The Jordan Cove Energy Project, which includes the Pacific Connector Pipeline and fracked liquefied natural gas (LNG) export facility is currently the greatest threat to our climate security in the region. The Jordan Cove Energy Project is now a plan by Pembina, a Canadian energy company, to export fracked liquefied natural gas (LNG) from Canada and the Rockies overseas using Oregon as a right-of-way. If built, this 229-mile fracked Gas Pipeline and associated LNG Export Facility would threaten 485 waterways (including the drinking water for over 116,000 Oregonians), seize property from private landowners through eminent domain, create major safety and public health hazards, impact Tribal territories, cultural resources, and burial grounds, and become the largest source of climate pollution in the state. We continue to fight this project tooth and nail and won’t stop until the proposal dies once and for all. Learn more here.

Defending Cascadia’s Forests:

Healthy forests have an incredible capacity for storing carbon, and the forests of western Cascadia are some of the best in the world for carbon sequestration. In fact, the Oregon Global Warming Commission’s Forest Carbon Task Force found that each year, Oregon forests take in between 23 and 63-million tons of carbon dioxide, making them unmatched in their ability to store carbon.

Old-growth forests of the Pacific Northwest store more carbon per unit area than any other biome, anywhere on Earth. Much of this carbon is tied up in the huge trees. The regional temperate climate creates ideal soil conditions and properties that hold secrets to why these trees grow so big. Soil acts as a ‘black box’ in forest ecosystems because the vital processes are hidden underground. Soil fertility, or the ability of soil to provide plants with sufficient nutrients and water, is not visually obvious, but it can be measured using scientific methods and analytical equipment. — United States Geological Survey (USGS) Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center, Unearthing Secrets of the Forest Factsheet

Unfortunately, Cascadia is also home to an aggressive logging industry that often disregards the incredible capacity of our forests. Aggressive timber management and clearcut-plantation logging practices not only undercut the ability for Cascadia’s forests to store carbon, but also contribute hugely to greenhouse gas emissions. Indeed, the timber industry is Oregon’s biggest climate polluter. Defending Cascadia’s forests, such as the remarkable Elliott State Forest, is essential work toward combating climate change and supporting natural processes of bringing atmospheric carbon levels back to stable quantities.

Click here to learn more about our work defending Cascadia’s forests. 

Why Combating Climate Change Matters:

It is not an overstatement to say that if we are successful in all that we do here at Cascadia Wildlands and we fail to stem human-caused climate change in a material way that we will lose much that we have gained and possibly more.

Although the Pacific Northwest has been identified as an area that will be less impacted than others by climate change, the projected impacts will be profound and, in some instances, simply unacceptable. Projected impacts include:

  • The Loss of Pacific Salmon Runs—Warmer waters and reduced snow packs will very likely act together to eliminate migratory salmon and steelhead runs and some resident trout populations. Salmon and steelhead will often not cross stretches of water that are too warm (known as thermal dams) and reduced water volumes will likely block fish transit to and from the ocean at critical times.
  • Large Scale Forest Change—We are currently beginning to see climate-driven changes in Northwest forests. For example, lodgepole pine populations are being stressed and reduced by bark beetle infestations that may be facilitated by warmer temperatures. Other species of trees and plants will see range reductions or shifts that could have both biological and economic consequences. Experts also point to climate change creating conditions ripe for larger and more severe wildfires in the West as we have seen in recent years.
  • Ocean Acidification—As CO2 levels increase in the atmosphere they also increase in the ocean along with nitrogen and sulfur compounds associated with the burning of coal and other fossil fuels. All of these added chemicals act in concert to increase acidification of the ocean and our coastal waters. Elements of the shell fishing industry in the Pacific Northwest are already seeing retarded shell growth and other fin fisheries will be impacted as the effects move up the food web.
  • Agriculture—Climate change deniers have often argued that increasing CO2 levels will only benefit agriculture by increasing growth rates and therefore production. But experience is showing us that the associated heat, droughts, and storm intensities are having a negative impact on crop growth. What’s more, associated acid precipitation may leach nutrients and needed trace minerals faster from soils increasing the need for more costly agricultural input.

Our Tools for Change

Illinois 2

Illinois River, Siskiyou Mountains. Photo by Rolf Skar.

Strategic Litigation:

Cascadia Wildlands consistently argues as the voice for wild places, wildlife and ecosystem function. Our comments are based on strong science, common sense, and an understanding that our fate is inextricably tied to the health and completeness of our ecosystems, but sometimes politicians, administrators and agencies fail to heed prudent advice. In those situations, Cascadia Wildlands and our various partners look to legal remedies. We do so solely to keep it wild and we do so strategically and with deliberation. At any given time, we are involved in a few dozen legal challenges.

Here are a few examples of ongoing legal campaigns:
Protecting Carnivores
Saving the Elliott State
Protecting Our Federal Forests

Influencing Policy:

We seek to influence policies at the bigger-picture level through promoting concepts such as our Shared Responsibility approach to solving on-going fiscal challenges in western Oregon. As part of this work, we identify wilderness areas such as the Devil’s Staircase and Wild Rogue that require special protection and fight for public policy that will protect these places and provide quality wilderness experiences into the future.

Monitoring and Submitting Agency Comment:

Cascadia staff pour through literally mountains of documents to make sure that public agencies are obeying the law and taking actions that are consistent with management plans and the best available science. We monitor timber proposals coming from each of the public management bodies, as well as fossil fuel proposals through various state and federal permitting agencies. When we find a problematic proposal, we comment and organize our friends, allies and community members to comment too. Often these comments are the difference between whether or not an irresponsible proposal is realized.

Education, Outreach & Community Engagement:

We recognize that education is at the root of  social change and engage the public through education, outreach and community events.  We work hard to translate our issues into everyday language and support stakeholders in engaging with the projects that influence them most.  Toward that end, we do door to door outreach in communities impacted by timber sales or fossil fuel projects and are always looking to build partnerships with stakeholders in our community.

Grassroots Action

Our grassroots team of WilCAT volunteers are at the frontlines of our campaigns rallying at the state capitol, lobbying our representatives, writing letters to local newspapers and keeping the pressure on key decision makers. Our grassroots action raises public awareness about our campaigns and empowers community members to get involved and have a voice in the public process. Get involved with our WildCAT volunteer team to learn more.


WildCAT volunteer in N126 sale

Often the information included in timber sale and fossil fuel proposals do not reflect the reality, or big picture of what’s on the ground. Cascadia’s volunteer field checking team visits timber sales and other sites threatened by proposals to see the area for ourselves and verify what’s in timber sale proposals. These trips not only bring community members into contact with threatened places but also often result in findings that can help us submit more informed public comment and better fight destructive proposals.

Current Timber Sales We’re Visiting:
 Thurston Hills-Springfield  BLM
Shotcash-Springfield BLM
Flat Country-Willamette National Forest
Highway 46-Willamette National Forest
N126 LSR-BLM, Siuslaw Field Office

Get involved in the WildCAT volunteer field checking  team!