By Bob Ferris
Last weekend I stood on the rim of Crater Lake with my wife. We were staring at the spectacular, Ty-D-Bol-colored water and contemplating strolling down the 700-foot drop to the shore and then back along the mile-long trail. In walks like this there is always stunning beauty, but there is also a lot of looking forward to how much farther there is to go and looking back to appreciate how far you have come.
In a little more than a weeks’ time all the staff at Cascadia Wildlands will be going through a similar process at a staff gathering. I would call this a retreat, but it is anything but a retreat. For us there is definitely a lot of breath taking while we look at the growing mountain of issues we have yet to climb. There is also profound appreciation for the distances we have covered and the elevation we have gained on so many important fronts.
With each victory—our big steps up the slope—we seem to gain reputation. But success is its own curse as more look to us on an increasing number of issues in a broader geographic area. We welcome this and strive to be worthy of the trust and deserving of the necessary support.
During our time together, we will look at our forest, critter, water and carbon work. We will, for instance, put our minds towards figuring out how a small non-profit can go toe-to-toe with well-funded timber interests intent on clearcutting the three fractured off parts of the former Elliott State Forest they paid pennies on the dollar for. They hope that their arrogance and wealth will prove too steep a slope for us to scurry up.
We will also talk wolves and maybe howl once or twice. Journey, Wanda and the pups need to be the start of something rather than the ending point. The more we learn, the more we know that we must fulfill the promising idea of western wolf recovery offered decades and decades ago. And while we cannot match other larger groups with stuffed wolves or glossy campaign materials (our highly desired wolf ears are handmade by staff–at left), we certainly match those groups in terms of organizational impact, experience and expertise.
Our expaned work on carnivores will be a topic. Since our adoption of Big Wildlife last fadll, we have increased our efforts on other predators like coyotes, bears, cougars and bobcats. A lot of this effort is directed at state wildlife commissions and agencies and getting them to take their roles as stewards of these species seriously and with sound science rather than looking at them as pests or not considering them at all. But it is also about strategies to get federal agencies, mainly the USDA's Wildlife Services, out of the predator control business.
Salmon and water too will be covered too. The suction dredge influx spilling out of California and Oregon and heading towards Washington needs to be met with an appropriate response and as we’ve been there before in Oregon with our successful legislation, we best get after it in these salmon and steelhead waters too.
Then there is carbon. Nearly all we stand to recover and save is made vulnerable by schemes to use or export fossil fuels. We butted heads with big coal and are making progress there but LNG, tar sands and shale oil are waiting none too patiently in the wings. We cannot allow the world to fry and dry or the oceans to become so acidic that they consume our aquatic life support systems. The situation with salmon in California’s dust-filled waterways and the dissolving sea stars of coastal Washington are alarm bells calling for our action. We have to figure it out.
Alaska, big, bold and vulnerable is there as well. Defending the Tongass and Cooper River with our allies and getting people far from the majesty of these places engaged. Alaska’s wild landscapes cannot be out of sight out of mind and be expected to survive in anything but coffee-table books. Because we can assure you that energy, timber and mining interests certainly have this state’s resources in their sights. And once it is gone it is gone and we forever lose a shining example of what wild truly is. If we lose what we aspire to in terms of wildness, how can we show future generations what we mean by something that is truly wild?
And then there is you. How do we add all this above to our plates and still be the folks you love to visit and occasionally be “wild” with? How do we engage our supporters in ways that short circuits Facebook’s non-profit punishing algorithm and get our issues in the newsfeeds of those who support wildness and need to know about our work? What sorts of events do our members want and need and where? And how do barely more than a handful of staff work most effectively with volunteer activists and continue to have this level of impact (and more) across four states?
We suspect that we will come up with some of the above answers during our two days together, but we also hope that some of the answers come from our members and supporters who truly and totally get engaged. Towards those ends Carolyn and Kaley will be sending out more interactive materials in our e-news and other outlets (beyond Kaley’s riddles and jokes) to hear more from our public.
But you do not have to wait until then; ideas and other help are always welcome from our friends and allies. Do you have an idea for an event? Would your company like us to do a brown bag lunch presentation? Do you want to sponsor a house party or program briefing? Are you a member of a band that could play at Pints Gone Wild? All of these are ways to help as are inviting your friends to become fans on facebook or subscribe to our action and event filled e-newsletter.
If you are reading this you are already a part of Cascadia Wildlands and we are grateful for that. So while we are looking forward and back as well as thinking of you, this might also be a good time for you to think about what you can and are willing to do on all of these important issues (or others). Many of the issues that we work on are critical, serious and often heart-wrenching, but acting on these fronts and being generous to the natural systems and critters that support and sustain us is always a joyous act. Get engaged.