Saving Oregon’s Famed Rivers and Wild Salmon from Gold Mining

by Nick Cady, Legal Director
It has been a long road to suction-dredge mining reform in Oregon, but this campaign is close to finalizing permanent protections for Oregon's iconic rivers and wild salmon.  Suction dredging is an incredibly harmful, gold-mining practice that involves sucking up fragile river bottoms through a large, gas-powered vacuum. This mining practice is damaging in numerous ways, but most importantly, it impairs water quality and the recovery of wild salmon.
SpawningThis mining technique first crossed Cascadia's radar in 2009, when the American Fisheries Society first began pressuring the California Legislature to ban the practice that was harming salmon runs. Ultimately in 2012, California banned suction dredging legislatively. In the meantime, they began migrating north into Oregon, and dedgers began targeting some of Oregon's most treasured waterways including the Rogue, South Umpqua and Illinois Rivers. From 2009 to 2012, the number of dredging permits issued doubled from approximately 900 to nearly 2,000 in Oregon. Because there was little oversight of the practice in Oregon, miners were running amok in some of the best salmon-spawning habitat in the state.  
Cascadia Wildlands combined efforts with numerous other conservation organizations, recreation groups, and commercial fishing interests and began a campaign to reform this harmful practice.  In 2013, our coalition was able to get two bills introduced to address the issue.  The first bill, Senate Bill 401, updated Oregon's list of State Scenic Waterways to enable the state to protect these areas from mining.  The second bill, Senate Bill 838 championed by the late senator Alan Bates, placed a moratorium on suction-dredging in salmon habitat until 2018, until which time state agencies would implement a permitted, regulatory system. 
After a hard-fought battle in the Legislature, the Governor ultimate signed Senate Bill 838, which placed a temporary moratorium on suction-dredge mining in key salmon habitat in Oregon.  The bill also convened a working group with stakeholders, including the miners and conservationists, to develop the permit and regulatory system that would be implemented by the state after the expiration of the moratorium.  Simultaneously, miners elected to sue the state in an attempt to invalidate the recently passed legislation and argued that Oregon did not have the authority to regulate mining due to conflicts with an archaic, federal mining law passed in 1872. Cascadia and our allies intervened in the legislation, and on March 25, 2016, the Court dismissed the miners' challenge, which is currently being appealed to the Ninth Circuit.
In the midst of the litigation, Cascadia moved forward and worked with our partners and state officials in developing permanent reforms to prevent this harmful gold mining from adversely impacting imperiled aquatic species. Our solution has culminated in Senate Bill 3-8, which recently passed Oregon's Senate and will be scheduled for a House vote soon.  Your voice is needed for a final push to achieve victory for Oregonians, clean water and wild salmon.  Take action here, and urge your Representative to vote yes on Senate Bill 3-8.

Battle for the Elliott State Forest Won! Land Board Votes to Keep Forest Public!

For immediate release

May 9, 2017

Contact: Josh Laughlin, Executive Director, 541.844.8182


State Land Board Votes Unanimously to Ditch Elliott State Forest Privatization Proposal, Advance Public Ownership Solution

In a 3-0 vote today, the Oregon State Land Board, made up of Governor Kate Brown, Treasurer Tobias Read and Secretary of State Dennis Richardson, terminated the protocol that led to the timber industry proposal to privatize the 82,500-acre Elliott State Forest in the Oregon Coast Range. 

The Land Board also voted to advance a proposal to keep Oregon’s first state forest in public ownership, which would require legislating $100 million in bonding revenue to decouple environmentally sensitive areas of the Elliott from the Common School Fund. The public ownership plan would also require the completion of a multi-species Habitat Conservation Plan for the remainder of the forest, which would outline forest management activity and endangered species protections. 

Today’s decision came after intense public opposition to the Elliott State Forest privatization proposal over the past few years, which would have led to restricted public access, old-growth forest clearcutting, and reduced stream-side protections for wild salmon.

Here are statements from Josh Laughlin, Cascadia Wildlands Executive Director, who attended and testified at today’s hearing:

“There has been a tidal wave of Oregonian support to keep the Elliott public that couldn’t be held back. The Land Board’s decisive action today was visionary, and we look forward to working in the months ahead to create a lasting forest plan that benefits clean water, imperiled salmon and wildlife habitat, and future generations of Oregonians.”

"At a time when there is tremendous nationwide pressure to privatize public lands, today’s Land Board vote to keep the Elliott State Forest public shows incredible leadership and foresight. This decision will be remembered decades down the road as one that deeply benefitted clean water, wild salmon, old-growth forests and school kids."

"Today’s vote is a reminder that we no longer need to choose between supporting school children or our environment. We can have both, and we are going to build off the momentum to ensure lasting environmental protections are built into the Elliott State Forest plan.” 



Press Release: Oregon Wolf Recovery Stagnant in 2016, Changes to Wolf Plan Concern Wolf Advocates

For immediate release
April 11, 2017
Contact: Nick Cady, Cascadia Wildlands, 314-482-3746
Today the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife released its 2016 annual report for wolf recovery as well as its draft update to the Oregon Wolf Plan. Of particular interest, the annual report shows that wolf packs and breeding pairs documented in the state 2016 declined from 2015 numbers. Pack numbers dropped from 12 to 11, and breeding pairs from 11 to 8. (The state of Oregon defines “breeding pair” as a breeding adult male and female wolf that produce at least two pups which survive through the end of the year.) Overall population numbers in 2016 were largely stagnant from 2015, seeing a 2% uptick to a minimum of 112 wolves.
A number of proposed changes to the Oregon Wolf Plan are strongly opposed by Cascadia Wildlands, including the use of Wildlife Services’ involvement in wolf management in the state. The federal program housed under the US Department of Agriculture has been subject intense public backlash and litigation for its barbaric practices used against targeted wildlife, including the use of M-44 cyanide devices which eject lethal poison into the mouths of wolves, coyotes and even family pets.
Another significant concern in the draft update to the Wolf Plan is the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s provision to kill wolves as response to wolf conflict with ungulates, like deer and elk. Science has shown that the main driver of ungulate health is habitat conditions, not wolves.
The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife is expected to adopt changes to the Wolf Plan at its April 21 meeting in Klamath Falls.
Nick Cady, Legal Director at Cascadia Wildlands, issues the following statements on the draft changes to the Oregon Wolf Plan and the results of the 2016 annual report:
“While the wolf population in Oregon has begun to rebound in recent years, 2016 numbers show otherwise. This is alarming, and the trend provides all the more reason to strengthen safeguards for wolves during the Wolf Plan update, which will allow them to continue back on the historic path toward recovery.”
“We are incredibly discouraged with the provisions in this plan to kill wolves in response to conflict with ungulates, like deer and elk.  A consistent body of science has shown that the main driver of ungulate health is habitat conditions, not carnivore predation.”
"We are resoundingly opposed to the State’s utilization of Wildlife Services in the plan, specifically this shadowy agency's role in determining whether or not wolves were responsible for depredations on livestock.  These are critical investigations, and the lives of wolves hinge on their integrity.  In the past, Wildlife Services has grossly overestimated depredations attributed to wolves in Oregon, thereby showing their long-held bias toward livestock interests and against wolves. This agency has no place in carnivore management in Oregon, and we will continue to fight to have them eliminated from this critical function in the revised Plan."
“Cascadia Wildlands is encouraged by the state of Oregon’s continued focus on pro-active, non lethal measures to prevent conflicts between wolves and livestock before they happen. Non-lethal tools and access to them are essential to creating co-existence between wolves and humans.”

Oregon Senate Passes Suction Dredge Reform Bill

For immediate release
April 10, 2017
Nick Cady, Cascadia Wildlands, 541-434-1463
Salem, OR – The Oregon Senate passed legislation today to protect sensitive salmon and lamprey habitat from suction dredge mining. The Suction Dredge Reform bill (SB 3-A Engrossed) balances the cultural heritage of mining in Oregon with impacts to native fish and clean water. The bill stops mining in sensitive habitat, but allows it to continue elsewhere under a permit system.
“Clean water and healthy salmon define our state and the rivers we love,” said Charles Gehr of Fly Water Travel. “The recreation industry is a vibrant and sustainable economic model for Oregon and this bill helps protect the streams that are the most vulnerable to suction dredge mining impacts.”
Clean water, healthy fish, and recreation are enormously valuable to state and local economies. According to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, people spent $2.5 billion on fish and wildlife recreation in Oregon in 2008.
The Suction Dredge Reform bill is the result of a long and collaborative process championed by the late Senator Alan Bates. Building on input from anglers, landowners, the mining industry, the fishing industry, conservation organizations, and other stakeholders, the bill takes a measured approach to protecting the most sensitive rivers and streams from the impacts of suction dredge mining, while still allowing suction dredges in areas where they do less harm.
“We are incredibly encouraged by the passage of Senate Bill 3 and the success of an incremental collaborative approach begun years ago with the passage of SB 838,” said Nick Cady, legal director of Cascadia Wildlands.  “This bill’s passage proves that given time and hard work, Oregonians are able to come together to develop solutions to our complicated conservation issues.”
“For the last four years, local communities across Oregon have called for reform on harmful suction dredge mining practices,” said Jake Crawford of the Native Fish Society, “and this legislation represents a workable, long-term solution to protect the state’s sensitive fish populations.”
Suction dredge mining is a type of recreational gold mining that uses a motorized, floating dredge to suck up the riverbed. Numerous scientific studies show that this form of mining can trap and kill young fish and fish eggs, release fine sediments that smother spawning gravel for salmon, and can even stir up legacy mercury from historic mining operations.
“The scientific literature demonstrates a broad array of negative effects of suction dredge gold mining.  It clearly works against efforts to recover salmon runs,” said Matt Sloat, Director of Science for Wild Salmon Center.
The commercial fishing industry also relies on healthy salmon runs. “Suction dredging, in the wrong places, can have devastating impacts on Oregon’s valuable salmon runs and destroy commercial salmon fishing jobs,” said Glen Spain, NW Regional Director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations (PCFFA), representing major fishing industry trade associations. “Many key Oregon salmon streams are slowly being restored, but hundreds of suction dredges descending on these streams every year could easily undo tens of millions of dollars worth of taxpayer-funded salmon restoration work. This bill achieves a better balance, simply by pulling suction dredges out of vulnerable salmon nurseries, and moving them to where they would do far less economic and biological harm.”
The Suction Dredge Reform bill prohibits mining in spawning and rearing habitat for sensitive, threatened, or endangered salmonids and lamprey, termed “essential salmonid habitat.” Outside of these areas, suction dredge mining would be allowed under a Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) permit that places certain limits on where and how suction dredges can be operated in streams.
“This bill provides a sustainable approach that is grounded in science to limit negative impacts on wild fish populations in Oregon and their habitat,” said Tom Wolf of the Oregon Council of Trout Unlimited.
In 2013, the Legislature recognized the need for better protections for sensitive species when it passed a bill to study the issue and implement a temporary moratorium in salmon and bull trout habitat. “These temporary protections for the most sensitive streams end in 2021,” said Stacey Detwiler of Rogue Riverkeeper, “so this a critical vote for the health of Oregon’s rivers and the communities that rely upon them.”
The Senate vote today is the first step to a permanent regulatory framework to protect the most sensitive habitats from suction dredges. “We commend the Senate for working with all the stakeholders to craft such a reasonable approach to allowing mining while protecting our sensitive species,” said Paige Spence of the Oregon League of Conservation Voters. “I think Senator Bates would be pleased.”

Press Release: Judge Says Timber Sale Near Crater Lake Could Harm Wildlife

For Immediate Release
March 21, 2017
Robin Meacher, Cascadia Wildlands, (541) 434-1463, robin@cascwild.org
Doug Heiken, Oregon Wild, (541) 344-0675, dh@oregonwild.org
John Mellgren, Western Environmental Law Center, (541) 485-2471, mellgren@westernlaw.org
Eugene, Ore. – A U.S. District Court in Eugene has issued an order requiring the Umpqua National Forest to more comprehensively study environmental impacts of the proposed Loafer Timber Project timber sale. The Forest Service must complete the study and weigh its findings before proceeding with the timber sale, in an area about 60 miles east of Roseburg, Oregon.
Cascadia Wildlands and Oregon Wild, represented by the Western Environmental Law Center, challenged the project in court last June. The groups sought to prevent harm to important roadless areas that are part of the Crater Lake Wilderness citizen’s proposal and vital northern spotted owl habitat.
Judge Russo determined the proposed logging project would have significant effects on the environment and the Forest Service should have prepared an environmental impact statement before allowing the project to move forward. In addition, the judge also found that the Forest Service failed to conduct meaningful analysis on the characteristics of the Loafer project’s roadless areas, including on more than 1,000 acres that would no longer be eligible for consideration as wilderness by Congress. These roadless areas are a part of the Crater Lake Wilderness Proposal.
 “The Umpqua’s forests are highly valued by the local community for quiet recreation and wildlife habitat. Judge Russo’s recommended ruling is a validation of the concerns continually raised by the community as to the impacts of logging in spotted owl habitat and undeveloped areas,” said Robin Meacher, Wildlands Campaign director for Cascadia Wildlands and an attorney on the case. “This is an acknowledgement that impacts to threatened species and our limited amount of undeveloped areas require in-depth analysis before they can move forward.”
Cascadia Wildlands and Oregon Wild have been engaged in the Loafer Timber Project for years. The first version of the project was stalled in 2014 when the Umpqua National Forest withdrew its decision after being sued by Cascadia Wildlands and Oregon Wild.
"Not only would this timber sale impact popular recreation opportunities on the North Umpqua Trail and Umpqua Hot Springs, but it bulldozes its way into remote backcountry areas that deserve to be Wilderness," said Doug Heiken, conservation and restoration coordinator at Oregon Wild. "This decision validates the tens of thousands of Oregonians who have called on Senator Wyden and Congress for greater protections for the wildlands around Crater Lake."
 The final version of the project included 1,400 acres of logging in the area encompassing the Umpqua Hot Springs, the Dread and Terror Ridge, and Thorne Prairie Region. The project was slated to downgrade and reduce northern spotted owl habitat in the 22,600-acre project region and allowed for the killing of four spotted owls. These impacts were part of the judge’s findings that the Forest Service erred in not conducting the thorough environmental analysis needed to truly understand the project's potential impacts. As a result of the decision, the Forest Service is prohibited from implementing the Loafer project until and unless it complies with its obligations under the National Environmental Policy Act.
 “Judge Russo’s decision emphasizes that the Loafer project will have significant impacts on important roadless areas and designated critical habitat for the northern spotted owl,” said John Mellgren, staff attorney at the Western Environmental Law Center. “As such, it is vitally important that the project be evaluated in a more thorough and robust environmental impact statement before additional taxpayer dollars are spent degrading these important features of Oregon’s natural environment.”

Cascadia Goes to Court to Defend Wolf Protections in California

For Immediate Release, March 14, 2017
Nick Cady, Cascadia Wildlands, (541) 434-1463, nick@cascwild.org
Amaroq Weiss, Center for Biological Diversity, (707) 779-9613, aweiss@biologicaldiversity.org
Greg Loarie, Earthjustice, (415) 217-2000, gloarie@earthjustice.org
Tom Wheeler, Environmental Protection Information Center, (707) 822-7711, tom@wildcalifornia.org
Joseph Vaile, Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center, (541) 488-5789, joseph@kswild.org
Conservation Groups Oppose Effort to Remove Wolf Protections in California
Organizations Seek Intervention on Industry Challenge to Endangered Status

SAN FRANCISCO— Four conservation groups filed a motion today to intervene in a lawsuit seeking to remove California Endangered Species Act protections from wolves. The lawsuit, against the state Fish and Wildlife Commission, was brought by the Pacific Legal Foundation and wrongly alleges that wolves are ineligible for state protection. 

The intervenors — Cascadia Wildlands, the Center for Biological Diversity, Environmental Protection Information Center, and Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center — are represented by Earthjustice.

“Pacific Legal Foundation’s lawsuit is baseless,” said Amaroq Weiss, the Center’s West Coast wolf organizer. “Gray wolves were senselessly wiped out in California and deserve a chance to come back and survive here. We’re intervening to defend the interests of the vast majority of Californians who value wolves and want them to recover.”

Brought on behalf of the California Cattlemen’s Association and California Farm Bureau Federation, the lawsuit alleges that wolves are ineligible for state protection because wolves returning to the state are supposedly the wrong subspecies, which only occurred intermittently in California at the time of the decision and are doing fine in other states.

Each of these arguments has major flaws. UCLA biologist Bob Wayne found that all three currently recognized subspecies of wolves occurred in California. Also — importantly — there is no requirement that recovery efforts focus on the same subspecies, rather than just the species. The fact that wolves were only intermittently present actually highlights the need for their protection, and the California Endangered Species Act is rightly focused on the status of species within California, not other states.  

“The gray wolf is an icon of wildness in the American West, and its return to California after almost 100 years is a success story we should celebrate,” said Earthjustice attorney Greg Loarie. “Stripping wolves of protection under the California Endangered Species Act at this early stage in their recovery risks losing them again, and we’re not going to let that happen.”

The four intervening groups petitioned for endangered species protections for wolves in February 2012. After receiving two California Department of Fish and Wildlife reports, scientific peer review assessment of those reports, thousands of written comments submitted by the public and live testimony at multiple public meetings, the California Fish and Game Commission voted to protect gray wolves in June 2014.

State protection makes it illegal to kill a wolf, including in response to livestock depredations — a major issue for the livestock industry. But despite the industry’s concerns, a growing body of scientific evidence shows nonlethal deterrence measures are more effective and less expensive than killing wolves. In addition, the Department of Fish and Wildlife has been allocated federal funding that can be used for nonlethal conflict-deterrence measures and to compensate ranchers for livestock losses to wolves, which make up a very small fraction of livestock losses.

“The cattle industry has made clear that it views wolves as pests and that they filed suit to allow killing of wolves,” said Tom Wheeler, executive director at the Environmental Protection Information Center. “Wolves are a vital part of American’s wilderness and natural heritage, helping to restore balance to our ecosystems by regulating elk and deer populations. The path to restoring wolves is through protecting fragile recovering populations.”

Wolves once ranged across most of the United States, but were trapped, shot and poisoned to near extirpation largely on behalf of the livestock industry. Before wolves began to return to California in late 2011 — when a single wolf from Oregon known as wolf OR-7 ventured south — it had been almost 90 years since a wild wolf was seen in the state. Before OR-7 the last known wild wolf in California, killed by a trapper in Lassen County, was seen in 1924.

Since 2011 California’s first wolf family in nearly a century, the seven-member Shasta pack, was confirmed in Siskiyou County in 2015, and a pair of wolves was confirmed in Lassen County in 2016. An additional radio-collared wolf from Oregon has crossed in and out of California several times since late 2015.

Cascadia Wildlands educates, agitates, and inspires a movement to protect and restore Cascadia's wild ecosystems. We envision vast old-growth forests, rivers full of wild salmon, wolves howling in the backcountry, and vibrant communities sustained by the unique landscapes of the Cascadia bioregion.

Gray Wolf Background and Resources


OR-17 with a 2013 pup of the Imnaha pack. Photo by ODFW.

Seen as incompatible with the settlement of the West, the gray wolf was trapped, poisoned and shot by state and federal governments and private bounty hunters to the point of near extinction. The species has been listed on the federal Endangered Species Act since the 1973.


To expedite recovery in the Rocky Mountains, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the federal agency in charge of recovering endangered species, seeded central Idaho and Yellowstone National Park with 29 gray wolves from nearby Canada in 1995 and 37 more in 1996. As anticipated, wolves have repopulated the northern Rockies and have migrated to neighboring states where recovery has begun in earnest.

In 1999, three wolves journeyed into Oregon from Idaho. One was shot and killed, one was hit by a car and killed, and the other was tranquilized and sent back to Idaho.
Because the state has a statutory obligation under the Oregon Endangered Species Act to recover the gray wolf, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife convened diverse stakeholders to generate a gray wolf recovery plan in 2003.
During the planning process, Cascadia Wildlands mobilized community members across the state, testified at hearings, hosted presentations and submitted official comments on the plan. The plan was adopted by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife Commission in 2005 and set recovery goals for the species in both eastern and western Oregon. End of year 2015 counts in Oregon documented at least 110 wolves across approximately 15 packs and pairs. In Washington, the count came in at at least 90 wolves across 15 packs. In California, the lone Shasta Pack has established a territory near the namesake volcano.


December 2010: Oregon Dept of Fish and Wildlife footage of the Imnaha Pack

Imnaha Pack, 2009

First wolf confirmed in Oregon

Links and resources

1. "Wolves and the Ecology of Fear: Can Predation Risk Structure Ecosystems?" By William Ripple and Robert Beschta. This article details the impacts wolves have had on Yellowstone since their reintroduction in 1995, including elk herds and riparian vegetation.
6. Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife's Gray Wolf Webpage








Oregon Wolf Recovery Chronology

November 2, 2016:  California Department of Fish & Wildllife has confirmed the presence of two gray wolves in Lassen County. DNA samples confirm that the male is a two-year old who dispersed from the Rogue Pack. The female is not genetically related to wolves from Oregon, which is great news for the gene pool and genetic diversity.
OR-17 with a 2013 pup of the Imnaha pack. Photo by ODFW.

OR-17 with a 2013 pup of the Imnaha pack. Photo by ODFW.

August 4, 2016:  OR-33 continues to inhabit the areas of SE Jackson and SW Klamath counties. This is the same area inhabited by the Keno pair. OR33 is still traveling solo, so it is likely he’ll head to another area in search of a mate.
July 28, 2016:  Summer pup surveys done by ODFW and USFWS have shown at least two pups for the Rogue Pack caught on trail cameras.
In addition, it has been revealed that OR-28, a three year old female who dispersed from the Mt. Emily Pack has paired up with OR-3, an eight year old male from the Imnaha Pack in 2011. It is believed they produced one pup this year.
July 21 , 2016:  Since January 2016, two wolves have been photographed occasionally in the area previously used by the Umatilla River Pack. In late June, reproduction was confirmed via remote camera photographs of two pups. The AKWA map  shows the area typically used by wolves north of the Umatilla River where they are confined by geographic features and established neighboring wolf packs. Biologists will continue monitoring activities to learn more about these wolves.
July 21, 2016:  In early March 2016, four wolves were found within the traditional Imnaha Pack wintering area.  A 10-month-old pup was radio-collared and released.  That wolf dispersed from the area in mid-April.  DNA analysis showed that the wolf was not related to any Imnaha Pack wolves, likely indicating that a new group of wolves were using the area.  What is now believed to be the entire Imnaha Pack was removed in late March 2016 in response to chronic depredation.  As of July, resident wolf activity has been documented again in the area.  Biologists will continue monitoring activities to learn more about these wolves.
July 6, 2016:  Oregon Court of Appeals allows lawsuit against ODFW to go forward.
June 28, 2016:  Since May 2016, radio-collar locations show OR-30 primarily using a large area in the Starkey and Ukiah Units that he also frequented in summer 2015.  He also infrequently visits the Mt Emily Unit and is believed to be alone.
June 22, 2016:  OR-33 sighted by numerous people near Ashland.
June 2016:  Updated scat analysis on the Shasta Pack in California reveals that both the breeding male and female were born into the Imnaha Pack in NE Oregon. The pack also consists of one female and three male pups.
May 2, 2016:  Cascadia Wildlands files an ethics complaint to the Oregon Government Ethics Commission alleging false statements and misrepresentations by state legislators which led to the passage of HB4040. This bill legislatively removes gray wolves from the state endangered species list.
May 2, 2016:  OR-33 is tracked by USFWS to be near La Pine in central Oregon. He dispersed from the Imnaha Pack in November 2015 and has since traveled though 13 counties in Oregon.
April 26, 2016:  OR-37, an adult male, was radio collared in January 2016.  He crossed the Snake River to Idaho within 3 weeks, and later returned to Oregon at the end of March.  He has since used the area shown on the AKWA map and appears to be alone.
April 12, 2016:  Guest editorial by scientist, Adrian Treves, in Eugene Register-Guard that criticizes ODFW delisting decision. 
April 5, 2016:  OR-7, whose radio collar died in 2015, is seen on a trail camera for the first time since last year in a remote area of Rogue-Siskiyou National Forest.
April 1, 2016:  OR-29 and OR-36 have been traveling together since February, 2016. OR-29 is a radio-collared male that dispersed from the Meacham pack in December 2015. OR-36 is a radio-collared female collared in the neighboring South Snake pack, who appears to have dispersed also.
Walla Walla pack wolf in 2014. Photo by ODFW.

Walla Walla pack wolf in 2014. Photo by ODFW.

March 31, 2016:  ODFW guns down four members of the Imnaha Pack  for livestock depredation: OR-4, the alpha male of the pack and the father of OR-7 (Journey), OR-39, the likely pregnant alpha female of the pack, along with two of their yearling offspring. Four members of the pack remain. OR-4 was instrumental in wolf recovery in Oregon. He and his original mate, OR-2, created what became known as the Imnaha pack back in 2008. Since then he has fathered countless pups, all of whom inherited his strong, tenacious and vibrant genes.
A beautiful eulogy for OR-4.
One more eulogy.
Another remembrance of this magnificent wolf.
Article about killing of Imnaha pack in relation to state wolf plan.
Another commentary.
March 2016:  Oregon State Police continue to investigate wolf poaching cases from 2015. [OR-34 was shot in Sept. 2015 and OR-31 was shot in December 2015]
March 2016:  Gov. Kate Brown signs HB4040 making the ODFW delisting decision a state law and preventing the lawsuit brought against ODFW from proceeding. Guest editorial in response published in the Eugene Register-Guard.
February 29, 2016:  Annual ODFW Wolf Report for 2015 released today shows 110 known wolves in the state comprised of 12 packs, four pairs of wolves traveling together and four individual wolves. Eleven successful breeding pairs had at least 35 known pups that survived through the end of 2015. [A breeding pair is considered to be adult make and female with at least two pups that survive to the end of the year that they were born.]  A copy of the ODFW report can be viewed here.
Feb. 3, 2016:  Cascadia Wildlands and allies file a lawsuit challenging the legality of the federal wildlife-killing program, Wildlife Services, in any future attempts to kill Oregon’s remaining wolves.
February 2016:  Oregon State legislature passes HB4040, a shocking move that ratifies into law the ODFW delisting decision and sets dangerous precedent by removing the public’s right to demand accountability of state agencies.
February 2016:  OR-33, a two-year old male who dispersed from the Imnaha Pack last month, is now in Klamath County. He seems to be traveling solo and since dispersing has made his way west into the Columbia Gorge, south into the Ochoco Mountains, moving through Fort Rock Valley and then heading south to the east side of the Cascades in Klamath County.
January 7. 2016:  OR-25 who dispersed from the Imnaha Pack in March of 2015 is documented in Modoc County, California.
January 2016:  In late 2015, OR-28, a 2 year-old female from the Mt. Emily Pack dispersed to Umatilla County and then traveled on to the area of Klamath and Lake Counties. There is evidence of another wolf using this area. [To see a map of wolf territories in Oregon, see page 7 of the 2015 ODFW Wolf Report]
January 2016:  ODFW has designated the Shamrock Pack in NE Oregon, originally called the Chesnimnus Pair. OR-23, a female from the Umatilla River Pack, and a male wolf produced three pups that survived through 2015.
December 23, 2015:  OR-31, a yearling of the Mt. Emily Pack, is shot by a poacher near the boundary of the Umatilla Indian Reservation.
December 2015:  A legal challenge has been filed by Cascadia Wildlands, Center for Biological Diversity and Oregon Wild to contest the removal of state endangered species protections for gray wolves by the ODFW Commission in November. The suit states that the decision was not based on verifiable, best available science and that Oregon’s wolves are not recovered and thus, it is too soon to remove protections.
December 2015:  OR-28 has been detected in Lake County. She spent time in Klamath County last month.
Another wolf is in the same area as OR-28, a two-year old female from the Mt. Emily Pack in Umatilla County, as documented by this ODFW trail camera.
November 20, 2015:  ODFW updates their list of non-lethal measures to minimize wolf-livestock conflict.
November 10, 2015:  The ODFW Commission votes 4-2 to remove endangered species protections for Oregon's wolves. Commissioners Greg Wolley and Laura Anderson are the only ones to vote against the delisting. Over 90% of public comments submitted were overwhelmingly in favor of maintaining protections. More than twenty wildlife scientists submitted extensive testimony; all stating that removing protections would be premature.
October 29, 2015:  Scientists slam Oregon’s ‘fundamentally flawed’ proposal to strip wolves of state endangered species protections.
October 28, 2015:  OR-7’s radio collar is no longer functioning.
October 9, 2015:  Thousands of people submit written testimony, many show up in person to testify and more than twenty scientists submit detailed testimony at the ODFW Commission hearing to express their outrage at the possible delisting of wolves from the state endangered species list.
October 2015:  Scat analysis reveals that the alpha female of the Shasta Pack in northern California dispersed from the Imnaha Pack.
October 2015:  OR-22 was shot by a hunter who believed the radio-collared animal with ear tags was a coyote. The hunter turned himself in and was later fined, ordered to pay restitution and forfeit his rifle to the state.
October 2015:  OR-3, one of the brothers of OR-7 who dispersed from the Imnaha Pack in May 2011, has been documented in Central Oregon. He had not been seen since his dispersal.
September 2015:  OR-34, a female from the Walla Walla Pack, is shot by a poacher.
August 2015:  California is home to its first wolf pack in over 90 years! Named the Shasta Pack, they are comprised of two adults and five pups. These wolves dispersed from Oregon and are living proof that wolves are returning to their historic ranges.
August 2015:  OR-25 is now in Klamath County. He dispersed from the Imnaha Pack in March this year. He is covering a lot of ground, as is common for dispersing wolves.
July 2015:  A trail camera/video from USFWF and ODFW show the yearling pups of the Rogue Pack playing. This brings the Rogue Pack to at least seven wolves, including five pups, OR-7 and his mate.
May 2015:  Cascadia Wildlands and Western Environmental Law Center file a Freedom of Information Act request to see all Forest Service plans for protecting wolves while selling off timber and building roads in Oregon and Washington’s national forests.
April, 2015:  OR- 25, a two-year old male, who dispersed from the Imnaha Pack last month is documented in southern Washington and then on the Warm Springs Indian Reservation.
February 2015:  Annual 2014 ODFW Wolf Report released this month shows 77 known wolves in the state comprised of nine packs, five pairs traveling together, and two individual wolves. There are eight documented breeding pairs that had 26 known pups that survived through the end of 2014. A copy of the ODFW report can be viewed here.
January 28, 2015:  ODFW announces it is moving into Phase II of the Wolf Management Plan in the eastern portion of Oregon when state wildlife biologists confirm there are seven breeding pairs in Oregon in 2014. This means livestock producers have more management flexibility in dealing with wolf-livestock conflict.
January 2015:  OR-7, his mate and almost yearling pups, three of whom survived the winter, have now been named the Rogue Pack.
December 2014:  Wolves continue to be federally protected west of Oregon highways 395/78/95. Wolves east of this designated federal protection area are still protected under Oregon’s state Endangered Species Act. The state Wolf Plan sets a conservation population objective of four breeding pairs for three consecutive years in eastern Oregon. This is the first year this objective has been reached and thus entry into Phase 2 of the Wolf Plan begins. To review the Oregon Wolf Conservation and Management Plan, click here.
By end of the year, nine packs are documented, eight in NE Oregon and one in SW Oregon) and includes two recently formed packs, the Meacham and Rogue Packs. Six new pairs of wolves were documented this year with a minimum total population estimated to be 77 wolves.
September 2014:  Genetic testing on scat samples reveal that OR-7’s mate likely comes from either the Snake River or Minam Pack.
July 2014:  It has been confirmed that OR-7 not only has a mate, but they have had their first litter of pups! The images via trail camera show OR-7, his mate and two pups. They are the first known wolves breeding in the Oregon Cascades in almost a century.
May 14, 2014:  CBC Radio interview with John Stephenson, ODFW wolf biologist about OR-7, his mate and probable pups.
May 2014:  This marks the third year in a row that ODFW has not killed any wolves for livestock depredation.
May 2014:  After traveling thousands of miles since his dispersal from the Imnaha Pack in December 2011, making his way into California and back up into Oregon, it appears that OR-7 may have found a mate. Trail cameras reveal a second wolf in the area where OR-7 is living. It was confirmed that she is female when the camera caught her squatting to pee.
February 2014:  The Wolf Conservation and Management Report is released by ODFW. Annual report for 2013 shows 64 known wolves in the state comprised of eight packs, four of whom include breeding pairs, and including two new packs (Mt. Emily and an unnamed pack in the Catherine Creek/Keating WMU). All packs are located in the far NE corner of the state. A copy of the 2013 ODFW report can be viewed here.
December 31, 2013:  At the end of year, ODFW determines that there are seven packs, of which four are breeding pairs, plus three individual wolves, accounting for an approximate increase of 15 wolves in the overall population in the state.
December 2013:  Based on information from his radio collar, OR-7 took a day trip into northern California and then returned to Oregon.
August 30, 2013:  Conflict Deterrence Plan released for the Umatilla River Pack. Under new wolf management rules, ODFW and livestock producers are required to develop and publicly disclose Conflict Deterrence Plans in Areas of Depredating Wolves.
July 30, 2013:  There are two documented pups for the Mt. Emily Pack. As of today, there are pups confirmed in the Imnaha, Minam, Mt. Emily, Snake River, Umatilla River, Walla Walla and Wenaha Packs!
July 2013:  ODFW officially passes the new administrative rules that amend the management of wolves in Oregon.
May 30, 2013:  It is determined that the cause of death of OR-19 is complications related to canine parvovirus. This disease is common amongst domestic dogs, but can also affect coyotes, foxes and wolves. It is the first documented case of parvovirus in Oregon wolves.
May 28, 2013:  In relation to the court-ordered stay issued by the Oregon Court of Appeals in October 2011, administrative rule changes in the Oregon Wolf Conservation and Management Plan have been agreed upon. During 2012, all parties (ODFW, Oregon Cattlemen’s Association, Cascadia Wildlands, Oregon Wild, and the Center for Biological Diversity) were in negotiations on changes to rules in regards to lethal control of wolves.
The rule changes included agreement on the following (CBD withdrew from negotiations in fall of 2012):
1. Before ODFW can employ lethal controls, it must confirm four qualifying incidents within a six-month period.
2. Requires the development and public disclosure of wolf-livestock conflict deterrence plans that can be implemented by livestock producers.
3. Requires that these non-lethal measures be implemented prior to a depredation in order for the depredation incident to qualify for lethal control.
4. Adds a rule that any ODFW lethal control decision lasts for a 45 day period.
Rules changes in their entirety can be read here.
May 19, 2013:  OR-19, a female from the Wenaha Pack who had been collared six days previously, is found dead of unknown cause.
March 2013:  OR-7 returns to Oregon from California and is seen in Jackson County.
February 2013:  Annual ODFW Wolf Report for 2012 released this month shows 46 known wolves in the state comprised of one non-breeding pair, two individuals and six packs that produced at least 22 pups that survived through the end of 2012. All packs are living in the far NE corner of the state. A copy of the 2012 ODFW report can be viewed here.
December 31, 2012: The court-ordered stay issued by the Oregon Court of Appeals on Oct. 2, 2011 preventing the lethal removal of depredating wolves remains in effect pending resolution of litigation filed by Cascadia Wildlands and allies challenging the Commission’s authority to authorize the killing of listed wolves under the Commission’s “chronic depredation” take rules.
December 21, 2012: Coinciding with the year anniversary of OR-7 setting paw in California, the Pacific Wolf Coalition is formed. Comprised of twenty-five wildlife conservation, education and protection organizations in California, Oregon and Washington, they are committed to envisioning populations of wolves restored over their historic habitats in numbers that allow them to re-establish their critical role in nature and ensure their long-term survival.
December 19, 2012: OR-16, a 1½ year old wolf from the Walla Walla Pack crossed into Idaho. He was shot by a poacher in Idaho less than a month later.
December 2012: OR-7 spent much of this year in California, becoming the first documented wolf in that state in 90 years.
November 2012: DNA analysis of scat confirms that OR-12 is the breeding male of the Wenaha Pack. He dispersed from the Imnaha Pack and is the first wolf born into a pack in Oregon who dispersed and successfully bred with another pack in Oregon.
September 2012: ODFW confirmed pups for the Walla Walla Pack documenting two black pups traveling with the pack. OR-10 and OR-11 are also traveling with this pack bringing the pack number to 10 wolves (8 adults, 2 pups).
August 31, 2102: A new wolf pack, including a pair of adults and five gray pups, have been observed in the Upper Minam River drainage area.
August 2012: A survey on US Forest Service land southeast of Joseph revealed at least six pups for the Imnaha Pack this year.
In addition, the Wenaha Pack now have seven documented pups. The Umatilla Pair have at least two pups, which makes them an official pack now.
July 2012: The Snake River Pack has at least three adults and three pups. Here is video footage of the pup howling and the pack returning the howl. This is a major way in which the packs communicate with each other.
June 2012: There are four pups observed for the Imnaha Pack for this year.
Biologists also confirm at least four pups in the Wenaha Pack.
May 4, 2012: As of today, based on state government data, 254 wolves have been shot and 124 have been trapped in Idaho this hunting season. In Montana, 166 wolves have been killed this season.
May 2, 2012: The wolf found dead in early March near Cove, Oregon in Union County is  confirmed to be a poaching by Oregon State Police and ODFW. The investigation of the crime continues. Genetic testing showed the wolf was from the Imnaha Pack.
April 17, 2012: OR-7 returns to California.
March 14, 2012: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upholds the district court ruling and allows the delisting of gray wolves in the Rocky Mountain states of Montana and Idaho (wolves are still listed in Wyoming due to the state's egregious management plan). Gray wolf hunting resumes.
March 7, 2012: Bill to overturn the ban on killing Oregon's endangered gray wolves is defeated in Salem.  Cascadia Wildlands and allies spent considerable time in Salem educating policy makers and testifying against this the reckless legislation.
March 1, 2012: OR-7 crosses back over into Oregon and is spending time in Klamath and Douglas counties.
February 2, 2012: Oregon Cattlemen's Associationbrings a bill to the state legislature to overturn the recently issued injunction that prohibits killing Oregon's endangered gray wolves.
December 30, 2011: OR-7, or Journey, makes his way into California from Oregon, becoming the first wolf to return to the state in nearly 80 years. 
December 28, 2011: Oregon's four known wolf packs, the Imnaha, Wenaha, Walla Walla and Snake River packs, all had pups this past year. Oregon currently has approximately 29 confirmed wolves in the state according to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. A copy of the entire ODFW 2011 Wolf Report can be viewed here.
December 12, 2011: Dispersing Imnaha Pack wolf, known as OR-7 (Journey), travels 730 miles  to southwest Oregon searching for mate and territory.
November 14, 2011: Oregon Court of Appeals extends ban on killing endangered Oregon wolves.
November 1, 2011: OR-7, who dispersed from the Imnaha Pack in September is located in the Umpqua National Forest. This marks the first confirmed wolf in the Oregon Cascades in over 60 years.
October 5, 2011: Oregon Court of Appeals grants emergency stay of execution of two Imnaha Pack wolves.
October 5, 2011: Cascadia Wildlands and allies file a legal challenge in state court to immediately halt the state killing of two of the remaining four Imnaha Pack wolves.  A memo on our lawsuit is sent to Governor Kitzhaber and key legislators.
September 26, 2011: At least two pups documented in the Walla Walla Pack by ODFW.
September 23, 2011: Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife issues a kill order for the alpha male (pack leader) and a yearling in the Imnaha Pack after a confirmed livestock depredation near Joseph, OR, deeming the situation as "chronic."
June 6, 2011: Cascadia Wildlands and allies send a letter to Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife about the recent lethal control of two Imnaha Pack wolves, kill order for up to two more wolves, and the issuance of 24 "caught in the act" kill permits to private landowners.
May 18, 2011: Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife kills second Imnaha Pack wolf in the past three days after attributing recent livestock depredations in Wallowa County to the pack.
May 3, 2011: Cascadia Wildlands and allies file a legal challenge against US Fish and Wildlife Service's order to kill two Imnaha pack wolves. The kill order is issued after the death of a calf on May 1st  in Wallowa County is confirmed as a wolf kill.
April 14, 2011: Congress legislatively delists gray wolves in the northern Rockies from the Endangered Species Act as part of a rider attached to the federal budget bill. In addition to removing federal protections in Montana and Idaho, the unprecedented action also strips protections for wolves in eastern Oregon, eastern Washington and northern Utah. The delisting will likely mean sport hunting for wolves in Montana and Idaho this fall.
March 30, 2011: Cascadia Wildlands presents testimony in the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee in the Oregon Legislature on a number of bills affecting Oregon's recovering gray wolf population.
March 18, 2011: Cascadia Wildlands and eight co-plaintiffs settle our legal challenge to the Obama administration's Northern Rocky Mountains gray wolf delisting from the Endangered Species Act.
March 1, 2011: Cascadia Wildlands delivers a memo to all 90 Oregon legislators describing anti-wolf bills that have been introduced into the 76th session in Salem.
March 1, 2011: Yearling female from Oregon's Imnaha pack is  found dead. The cause of the death of the collared wolf is unclear.
December 2010: Idaho and Montana senators propose to legislate delisting of gray wolves in the Rockies.
October 8, 2010: Conservation groups offer $7,500 reward for information leading to the prosecution of the person/s responsible for killing an endangered gray wolf from the Wenaha Pack in eastern Oregon.
August 5, 2010: Federal district court judge Donald Malloy in Missoula rules in favor of Cascadia Wildlands' lawsuit challenging the government's delisting of the gray wolf from the Endangered Species Act in the northern Rocky Mountains. Cascadia was one of 13 co-plaintiffs and was represented by Earthjustice in the case.
July 8, 2010: Cascadia Wildlands and allies file a lawsuit and halt the hunt of members of Oregon's Imnaha wolf pack.
Fall-Winter 2009: Over 250 gray wolves are killed in Montana and Idaho during sport hunts after wolves are delisted by the Obama administration.
September 8, 2009: Federal district court judge Donald Malloy in Missoula rules against Cascadia Wildlands' request for a Preliminary Injunction but suggested in his ruling that we are likely to succeed on the merits of the lawsuit. The lawsuit will likely be heard in early 2010.
September 5, 2009: Two wolves in Baker County's Keating Valley are killed after repeated depredations of livestock. The two wolves, which are apparently not part of an organized pack, represent approximately 20% of the known wolves in Oregon today.
June 2, 2009: Cascadia Wildlands and 12 conservation partners represented by Earthjustice legally challenge the removal of Endangered Species Act protections for gray wolves in Idaho, Montana, and eastern Oregon and Washington.
April 2, 2009: The Obama administration's US Fish and Wildlife Service removes gray wolves from the Endangered Species Act, finalizing an effort initiated by the Bush administration. Idaho and Montana begin to plan a wolf hunting season.
July 18, 2008: Federal District Court Judge Donald Malloy issues a preliminary injunction halting the gray wolf delisting in the Northern Rocky Mountains. This is not a ruling on the merits of the case, rather a placeholder while attorneys argue the claims.
April 28, 2008: Following up on its February 27 notice of intent to sue, Cascadia Wildlands and 11 co-plaintiffs file a lawsuit and preliminary injunction request to halt killing of gray wolves in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming. Since the delisting occurred in March, dozens of wolves have been killed by sport hunters.
February 27, 2008: Represented by Earthjustice,  Cascadia Wildlands and 11 co-plaintiffs file a 60-day notice of intent to sue the US Fish and Wildlife Service over the removal of the Northern Rocky Mountains population of the gray wolf from the Endangered Species Act. The delisting will turn over management of the species to states in the inter-mountain West. Montana, Idaho and Wyoming all have management plans in place that would permit rampant killing of wolves.

Conservation Groups Decry Vote by State Treasurer, Secretary of State to Sell Elliott State Forest

Bob Sallinger, 503.380.9728 or bsallinger@audubonportland.org 
Josh Laughlin, 541.844.8182 or jlaughlin@cascwild.org 
Doug Moore, 503.729.5175 or dmoore@olcv.org 
Conservation groups decry vote by State Treasurer,
Secretary of State to Sell Elliott State Forest 
Governor puts forward solid plan to keep 83,000-acre forest public.
Salem, Oregon—February 15, 2017 – A broad coalition of conservation, hunting, and fishing groups across Oregon decried a state land board vote pushing the Elliott State Forest to brink of privatization yesterday. 
Democratic State Treasurer Tobias Read and Republican Secretary of State Dennis Richardson both voted to continue with the sale of the forest to a timber firm, Lone Rock Resources. 
Governor Kate Brown opposed the sale and promoted a framework to keep the forest in public ownership, saying, “It's in the best interest of Oregonians that the forest stays in public hands for future generations.” 
The conservation community has been working on several proposals that fit within Governor Brown’s vision to keep the land publicly accessible, protect older forests and critical salmon and wildlife habitat, safeguard streams and incorporate tribal ownership, while fulfilling the state’s obligation to fund public schools. 
As the sale negotiations continue, Governor Brown directed the Department of State Lands to continue to explore options to keep the land public. That direction leaves open the possibility that Oregon Legislature and other parties can craft a viable public option. 
Earlier in the meeting, Senate President Peter Courtney expressed his personal support for public ownership, pledging his help in the current session to secure bonding for the proposal. 
Said Doug Moore, “We thank the Governor for continuing to work on a proposal that meets the many important public interests in this forest. What’s disappointing is the lack of vision from Treasurer Read and Secretary of State Richardson in failing to help her craft a long term solution that Oregonians will be proud of.” 
Treasurer Read motioned to amend the Lone Rock proposal with modest conservation and recreation provisions. These are unlikely to meet the broad conservation and public access goals outlined by the Governor and the conservation community. 
"On the anniversary of the State’s birth, we should be honoring Oregon and all the values public lands offer Oregonians," said Josh Laughlin with Cascadia Wildlands. "Instead, Treasurer Read and Secretary Richardson voted to privatize the Elliott State Forest, which means more clear cuts, muddy water and locked gates in our great state." 
"Public lands are under unprecedented attack across Oregon and the rest of the country. At a time when we need our public officials to stand up for public lands, Governor Brown is stepping up and Treasurer Read appears to be stepping aside," said Bob Sallinger, Conservation Director with the Audubon Society of Portland. 
The Lone Rock proposal to protect streams has standards far below the protections under the current Elliott State Forest plan. Meanwhile, thousands of acres of 100-year-old forest will be open to clearcutting. 
“Our coastal salmon runs depend on public lands, and this sale sets a terrible precedent for other public lands in Oregon and across the West,” said Bob Van Dyk, Oregon and California policy director at the Wild Salmon Center.
Conservation groups will now turn to the legislature and other stakeholders to advance a public ownership option. The next State Land Board meeting will be April 11th. 
Josh Laughlin, Cascadia Wildlands 
Doug Moore, Oregon League of Conservation Voters 
Tom Wolf, Oregon Council Trout Unlimited 
Bob Van Dyk, Wild Salmon Center 
Bob Sallinger, Portland Audubon 
Cameron La Follette, Oregon Coast Alliance 
Max Beeken, Coast Range Forest Watch 
Noah Greenwald, Center for Biological Diversity 

Reflections on the Enormous Victory in Northern Cascadia and Coming Full Circle

by Gabe Scott, Cascadia Wildlands House Counsel

Ready for some good news? Last week our partners at Eyak Preservation Council announced that the major part of Alaska’s Bering River Coalfield, and the old-growth forest on top of it, has been permanently protected!
The Bering River coalfield sits in the rugged, remote mountains just back of Cascadia's northern extreme.

The Bering River coalfield sits in the rugged, remote mountains just back of Cascadia's northern extreme (photo by Brett Cole).

Several things about this historic victory make it especially sweet. Ecologically it protects one of the most magnificent places on earth, a vast wild wetland on Cascadia's northern edge. Better, it does it in a precedent-setting way that puts the region’s indigenous people in charge. Personally I am proud that we Cascadians played a big part creating the conditions where this victory could happen. And, most of all, let us be inspired by the example of our close partner and good friend Dune Lankard, the Eyak native whose visionary leadership and sheer determination has achieved what few believed was possible.
The Victory
The Bering River coalfield is located in one of the wildest and most productive on earth—the Copper/Bering River Delta wetland complex, along Alaska’s south-central Gulf coast. This is wild salmon, bear, wolf, eagle and raven country. Seals swim ice-berg choked rivers hunting King salmon. Ice-clad mountains rise almost straight out of the churning Gulf. 
The Bering River rages through the coast range, backed by glaciers, choked with salmon, and Wild as all-get-out.

The Bering River rages through the coast range, backed by glaciers, choked with salmon, and Wild as all-get-out (photo by Brett Cole).

To the north is the largest protected wilderness in the whole world: from here into the Yukon territory all the way down to Glacier Bay. To the east is the largest ice-field outside the poles. The ice is moving, glaciers sliding forward and melting back, uncovering infant land. To the west is the Copper River Delta, and beyond that Cordova and Prince William Sound. This is the largest contiguous wetland in Cascadia, home to the world-famous Copper River salmon fishing fleet, and incredible concentrations of swans, geese and shorebirds.
There are huge veins of coal, the largest tide-water coal deposit in the world, buried in the mountain ridges back of the wetlands. Coal mining there would have involved mountain-top removal in the headwaters of rich salmon rivers, extensive clearcutting of the old-growth forest, roads across the wild Copper River delta, and a deepwater port near Cordova.
The deal announced yesterday is that Chugach Alaska Corporation's coal and timber will be forever conserved, stewarded with a conservation easement enforced by The Native Conservancy. The owner, CAC, will generate revenue by selling carbon credits on California’s market.
Historic Victory for Conservation
This has been a long time coming. The Bering River coalfield is one of modern conservation’s seminal battles. In 1907 Teddy Roosevelt stuck his neck out to prevent J.P. Morgan from grabbing it in a monopoly. Gifford Pinchot was fired/ resigned in protest trying to protect it. Louis Brandeis, before being appointed to the supreme court, put his talents to work for the cause. Through the era of statehood, and Native land claims, and the park-creating frenzy of ANILCA, and the post-Exxon Valdez restoration deals, conservationists always tried but developers stubbornly insisted that the Bering River coalfield needed to be mined. 
The coal is owned by Chugach Alaska Corporation, one of the regional Alaska Native corporations. (Rather than treaties and reservations, in Alaska the U.S. congress formed corporations and made indigenous people into the shareholders. Long story. CAC is one of these.) CAC selected the coalfield and the trees atop it with an eye to developing them.
After going bankrupt in the late 1980s, CAC lost part of the coalfield to a Korean conglomerate. Notably, that portion of the coalfield isn't covered by the deal announced last week, so it will need to be protected too. 
The 700,000-acre Copper River Delta is the largest contiguous wetland on the Pacific Coast of North America.

The 700,000-acre Copper River Delta is the largest contiguous wetland on the Pacific Coast of North America.

The conservation deal announced yesterday is precent setting for it’s unique mix of conservation and indigenous control. The Native Conservancy is a new idea, the brainchild of Dune Lankard, that was critical to the deal working. Formulated as a sort of friendly amendment to the Nature Conservancy, the idea is to incorporate social justice for indigenous people into long-term land conservation.
In the announced deal the Native Conservancy will hold the conservation easement, making it the steward in charge of protecting the land. Enforcement of easements is one of the major hurdles to private equity models of conservation, and this offers an attractive new possibility.
This victory also points to the inevitable reality of climate change and the future of carbon. California’s carbon market  makes it possible economically for a company like CAC to realize a return on investment for conservation. Where there is money, deals will be made.
Lying politicians aside, global warming is real. The writing is on the wall for the carbon-heavy industries. When corporations look to the future, they see young people marching for climate justice, bringing their case to the courts and demanding sustainability. Especially for Alaska Native corporations like CAC, shareholders are keenly interested in avoiding climate catastrophe. The message is being heard!
A personal victory
This victory also marks a sweet sort of bookend to my own work running Cascadia’s Alaska field office, from 1998 until this past year. The first reason I went to Cordova, back in 1998, was to help Dune Lankard blockade the road that CAC was then actually building, across the Copper River Delta to access this coalfield and these trees. 
Dune Lankard at Shepard Point, back in the day.

Dune Lankard at Shepard Point, back in the day.

When I first arrived there was the coalfield, an oilfield, a deepwater port, a road across the Delta and another one up the river, cruise ships and a Princess lodge, all interlocking. None of these threats alone could gain traction, but any two or more of them would forever destroy the wilderness. Dune and I spent countless hours together on the basketball court scheming the demise of this web of threats. For the next nineteen years, Cascadia and Eyak worked together on the campaigns. Together we stopped the road across the Delta, the deepwater port at Shepard Point, and oil drilling at Katalla. 
Without the deepwater port, without the access road, and without any oil discovery to attract new investment, conservation of the coalfield became more appealing. 
While we are proud to have helped create the conditions for success, all credit for this victory goes to two heroes of the planet: Dune Lankard and Carol Hoover. Their dogged determination and visionary blend of indigenous and ecological justice has achieved what a century of environmentalists could not. 
So, I am inspired, and so should you be! 
The new president can take a long walk off a short pier. The train has left the station. The people are winning for climate justice, and we aren’t about to stop now.
After an incredible run in Cascadia's northern frontier based in Cordova, Gabe Scott recently moved back to Eugene with his family and is Cascadia Wildlands' House Counsel.
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