forests for our future

Camping for a Cleaner Forest

Written by Brain Mize, Field Forester
Photographed by Milo Zorzino

Foresters tend to be an introverted lot, spending our days care taking the land in solitude.  So when our volunteer coordinator, Lauren Miheli, suggested an overnight camping excursion in the Central Cascades with a group of volunteers, I was a little apprehensive to say the least.  I provided the idea for a project of cleaning up a couple areas where people had illegally built cabins and left garbage scattered about.  I warned Lauren that this area was isolated, and was at least a 4 to 5 hour drive from Seattle.  This is when Lauren came up with the idea of camping onsite to allow more time for working.

As we convened on Saturday morning, my uneasiness was quickly settled when I realized we had a small, but incredibly dedicated group of volunteers.  We traveled to the project site and quickly set to work cleaning up a jackstrawed mess of rough cut logs, chicken wire, plastic, and scattered trash.  The afternoon temperatures reached into the upper 80’s, and there was no shade at the work site; however, our group of 5 volunteers cleaned up the area and hauled everything 500’ up to the road in about two hours.  We spent the rest of the evening setting up camp and enjoying the scenery.

By the time we split off on Sunday, our small group had exceeded all expectations of how much work we would accomplish.  But more than that, the dedication of our volunteers helped me get over my anxiety, and left me wanting more.  Although we have not planned our next volunteer event in the Central Cascades, I look forward to spending more time with people in a place that I love.

See our upcoming volunteer opportunities.


On the Radio: Washington’s Forests In the News

Washington’s forests are critical for water, recreation, wildlife, local economies.

The Nature Conservancy is working with many partners to restore these forest to health, to better withstand the impacts of climate change and reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires.

LEARN MORE ABOUT OUR WORK IN FORESTS


Discovering Fire in our Forests

Written & Photographed by Brian Mize, Field Forester

Recently, I was traveling through our Central Cascades lands, noticed a strong odor and saw a small amount of smoke approximately 200’ off the road.  I am very familiar with this particular location because it has been a popular spot with the local firewood poachers.

I hiked off the road and found a campfire that had escaped the ring and burned a small area.  At that time, the fire was just smoldering and there was nobody around. 

Acting quickly, I called the Central Washington Interagency Communication Center in Wenatchee, and they sent out the dispatch to any local fire engines.  A Forest Service engine was the first to respond and arrived shortly after.  They ran a quick hose line to the fire and extinguished all the heat and put a hand line around the burned area. Afterwards, a Dept. of Natural Resources engine arrived along with a DNR law enforcement officer. 

This was clearly a human caused fire, but we did not find any evidence that could pinpoint any specific individuals.  There was evidence of recent firewood theft in the immediate vicinity.

Overall, this ended up being a small incident; however, if I had not spotted this fire when I did, it could have developed into something greater in scope.  This area is very brushy, steep, and the high temps that day were above 90 degrees.  With a little wind, this fire had high potential for spread.

We love that we can provide as much access to the outdoors as possible to our local communities with our lands. It was a good reminder that although fire season has been off to a slow start this summer, we still have a long way to go. 

Learn about Fire adapted Communities


Out with the Old, In with the New

Written by Lara Gricar, Central Cascades Community Coordinator
Photographed by Brian Mize, Central Cascades Forester

On a rainy winter day in the Central Cascades we began the adventure to find and replace all of the old Plum Creek Timber Company signs scattered across the Cle Elum Ridge. The Nature Conservancy purchased 47, 921 acres of forestland in the Central Cascades from Plum Creek Timber Company in December 2014 to connect, protect and restore the land for people and nature. A little over a year later we are posting signs as a continuation of our efforts to help people understand what land we own, how it can be used, and where to find more information about our work in the Central Cascades.

Brian Mize, Central Cascades Forester, and I took on this task, and let me tell you, it is not always easy to attach a 24 x 18” sign to a tree surrounded by soft snow and deep voids. At lower elevations there was very little snow so it was quite a stark difference as we traversed up and down the land. Thankfully we had our trusty snow machine to stand on when needed!

The best part of the day was when we had the unique opportunity to see a set of cougar (mountain lion) tracks. They were located about a mile east as the crow flies of the Cle Elum-Roslyn schools off SR 903. Several key clues were the larger track size, lack of claw marks which are visible in tracks left by members of the dog family, and the tail drag marks in the snow between prints. I learned that it is really helpful in the field to take a photo of the track next to a familiar object such as a glove so that you have a point of reference to use when evaluating track size.

Alas, after a full day of crisscrossing the land we finished installing all of the new signs on the Cle Elum Ridge. Now, onto the next tract of land!

LEARN MORE ABOUT OUR WORK IN THE CENTRAL CASCADES

A Snowy Holiday in Our Central Cascades Forest

Photographs by Lara Gricar, the Central Cascades Community Coordinator

The snow is here, just in time for the holiday! Enjoy these great photos on our 48,000 acre forestland acquisition in the Central Cascades! Cle Elum Ridge looks so peaceful. 

 

Revelling in the Beauty of Roslyn

Scenes from our October Membership Hike through the Central Cascades

Photographed by Hannah Letinich, Volunteer Northwest Photographer

The Conservancy preserves some of the best places to view Autumn's colorful arrival. Members were in for a treat during our fall membership hike through the Central Cascades. It was exciting day learning about the wondrous beauty of our 48,000 acre acquisition near Roslyn. Members enjoyed the scenery and had a chance to learn firsthand the work our foresters are doing to keep Washington beautiful. See photos from the day in the slideshow above!

Become a member, today.

An Amazing Race through the Central Cascades

Seeing the finish line AS WE RESTORE Washington's beautiful forests

Written by Mike Stevens, Washington State Director for The Nature Conservancy

One of my personal highlights of the month was running in the Cle Elum 30K Trail Run on the 26th. Our Senior Attorney Brian Todd ran the 50K. The race cuts across the checkerboard country in the Manastash/Taneum Ridge and Taneum Creek area – including The Nature Conservancy’s ownership. Through every bead of sweat and hard work during my run, there were highlights such as the great trails predominantly used by motorcyclists and some gorgeous views out across the forested ridges and up and down the Tandem watershed.

At every long trail run I’ve done, there is a moment where the running becomes real work but the effort brings my mind into sharp focus, which in turn brings the landscape to life. At the Cle Elum run, that moment came along Taneum Creek. The trail crosses over wooden bridges and winds along the creek, making for fun downhill running with short, hard uphill sections.

The sounds of the creek, chickadees and nuthatches, and of yellow fall cottonwood and aspen leaves streaming off the trees. The sunlight streaming through the woods. The sharp crisp scent of fall in the meadows. These were my companions for a last challenging and rewarding hour of running. I came into the finish, my prize a big hug from my wife and a fresh piece of pizza from a wood-fired oven.

Afterwards, Brian and I shared notes on the day and then it was back to the city, feeling sore, yet motivated and even more invested in our work in the Cascades.

HIKING OUR LAND

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Member hikes in the Central Cascades

Written by Cailin Mackenzie, Marketing Intern

Photography by Nathan Hadley

One of our wonderful members who joined us for a hike last week referred to the Forests for our Future as “our land.” This simple turn of phrase represents what makes The Nature Conservancy able to create significant environmental benefit at impactful scale: dedicated supporters with deep passion about the lands and waters we all protect.

Our forest team has led two hikes with Conservancy members this fall, with another coming up in October. Our members are truly partners in our work to sustain Washington’s natural resources for future generations. On the hike, one member showed our group what a Douglas fir pine cone looks like after as squirrel has enjoyed his lunch. Another taught about her work with the wildlife bridges along the I-90 corridor. I don’t know about you, but after I’ve helped core a Ponderosa pine, counting its rings and starkly seeing different growth rates over its long life, I feel a deeper connection to the systems that nourish me. When I see 1000 species of flora and fauna growing proximate to almost 1800 people, I better understand the challenges and opportunities of living with nature for a symbiotic future.

Hiking with members has been an inspiring opportunity to be invigorated by the commitment of our community to the work we do. This community of resolved support will help stitch together Washington’s landscapes and strengthen nature’s remarkable capability.

Connect and restore forests to break the cycle of megafire

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Fragmented ownership and poor management have left our state’s forests primed for catastrophic fire.

Written by Robin Stanton, Media Relations Manager
Photograph by Benj Drummond/LightHawk

Weaving the land back together and implementing big restoration actions that cross ownership boundaries will help prevent megafires. 

CONNECTING FORESTS

If you look at a map that shows ownership boundaries in Washington’s eastern forests, you’ll notice a distinctive checkerboard pattern of public and private ownership. That’s a legacy of the land grants of the 1860s, when the federal government gave alternating square miles of land to the railroads to encourage them to reach the West Coast.

Today, that fragmented pattern has led to more development in the midst of the forest where it’s vulnerable to fire and breaks up habitat and recreation areas. It also means forests have been managed piecemeal, without a holistic, science-based plan for largescale restoration.

The Conservancy has been working for more than 10 years to fix this fragmentation, by bringing more of these private lands into public and conservation ownership. Our most recent acquisition of 48,000 acres in the Central Cascades is a big step forward in this work.

RESTORING FORESTS

A recent study by Conservancy and U.S. Forest Service scientists show that 2.88 million acres of eastern Washington forests are in need of restoration, both by thinning trees and using controlled burning to clear out forest fuels that have accumulated for a century.

We’ve led the way with a pilot restoration project on 20,000 acres in the Oak Creek Wildlife Area west of Yakima where we thinned understory trees and shrubs according to a carefully designed plan: Cutting away small 10- and 20-year-old Douglas firs gives 400-year-old ponderosa pines light, air and water to thrive. Thinning smaller trees also prepares the forest for controlled burning, which further enhances the forest’s resilience to future wildfires.

Today, we’re working through the Tapash Sustainable Forest Collaborative (see below) to plan and implement an 80,000-acre restoration project in the Manastash-Taneum area east of Cle Elum. This collaborative restoration will encompass federal, state, and Conservancy forest lands and is expected to get underway this year.

It’s essential that the Conservancy and committed partners act quickly to restore eastern Washington forests to make them less vulnerable to megafires. Forest collaboratives comprised of private stakeholders, as well as state and federal agencies, are coming together across the West to overcome barriers and find solutions to the issue of improving forests’ resiliene and health. The Nature Conservancy is engaged in and is a leading partner of many of these collaborative groups in Washington:

Tapash Sustainable Forest Collaborative: The Conservancy took a lead role in forming the Tapash Sustainable Forest Collaborative in 2006 with the aim of bringing together state and federal agencies, the Yakama Nation, and private landowners to increase the pace, quality, and scale of restoration projects across 2.3 million acres of eastern Washington forest.

Northeast Washington Forestry Coalition: The Nature Conservancy is engaged in the Northeast Washington Forestry Coalition, a group of diverse stakeholders working together since 2002 to promote forest restoration that is beneficial to forest health, public safety, and local economies. The coalition’s priorities, such as fuels reduction projects, serve as examples of successful collaborative work for the public and similar organizations.

North Central Washington Forest Collaborative: The Conservancy is a leading partner in initiating The North Central Washington Forest Collaborative.

The Nature Conservancy helped to establish the Washington Prescribed Fire Council, a coalition of agencies and stakeholders working to safely introduce more prescribed fire into the landscape.

WHAT’S BETTER THAN A GOOD HIKE?

Written and Photographed by Cailin Mackenzie, Marketing Intern

Last week, Conservancy members explored our conserved land in the Central Cascade region with James Schroeder, Director of Forest Conservation & Partnerships, and Brian Mize, Central Cascades Field Forester.

We smelled Ponderosa pine bark, which smells like vanilla, cinnamon, or even coconut for different people. We learned how a native species like spruce budworm can become a pest because of habitat disturbance and climate change. And we observed how reuniting the fractured Cascades checkerboard will benefit wildlife, water, climate, and people for generations.

There are three more opportunities to hike with us on our new acquisition! Let this special place inspire you on Wednesday, September 16th; Saturday, September 19th; or Sunday, October 4th. RSVP to WaEvents@tnc.org - we’d love to share our work with you!

Central Cascades Hike Scouting

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Creating a little tour of a very big backyard

Written and Photographed by Carrie Krueger, Director of Marketing

It’s thrilling to be offering the tiniest of tours of our new back yard. 48,000 acres is an awful lot to show off, so for our member hikes this year, we’ll have to settle for just a peek at all our land in the Central Cascades has to offer.

Mapping the route for these member hikes proved tricky. The landscape is inherently rugged and steep. Despite our efforts to weave together the fractured landscape, property ownership is still disparate and a desirable path may cross many boundaries.  Some of the land is crisscrossed with trails used by a variety of recreationalists but not necessarily suited for hikers.

I was lucky enough to spend a day with our forest team searching for the perfect hike. It was not just another day at the office! Over the course of several hours, I took in old growth, stunning views, restored landscape and places in need of work.  I was most struck by the birds and butterflies. They seemed to be everywhere, even following us as we explored.

The trek also allowed me to talk with our forest team and hear more about the work they are doing to develop a management plan for the land. If you’ve ever done a home remodel, you know that having a plan is critical. Think about creating that vision and the practical details for 48,000 acres! The need for restoration is evident as is the potential for community benefit in the form of jobs and recreation. This land can be a real win for people and for nature.

As we hiked, we mapped every twist and turn using GPS, noting elevation gains and asking ourselves, “Would this be fun for a group hike?” With you in mind, we came up with a route that we think is beautiful, challenging but not too hard, features beautiful views and most important tells the story of why these lands matter and why we need your support to protect and restore them.

Join us on what we hope will be the first of many adventures in your new backyard. We’ll be taking people out on our new route August 8, September 16 and October 4

You can get details and RSVP at WaEvents@TNC.org.

Hope to see you out there!

Forests for Our Future: Progress on a Plan

Management of nearly, 50,000 acres of forestland in the Central Cascades

Written & Photographed by Ryan Haugo, Senior Forest Ecologist

Last winter we celebrated the acquisition of 47,982 acres of forestland in the central Cascades from the Plum Creek timber company last winter with lots of high fives and back slaps.  Yet we knew that the “real work” still lay ahead of us. We knew that soon we would be very busy writing the Central Cascades Forests Management plan.

What does a management plan for the conservation of nearly 50,000 acres across the central Cascades look like? This plan will cover everything from our overarching conservation objectives to details on recreational access, timber management, and ecological restoration strategies.

Just over six months later and we are deep into the development of the Central Cascades Forests Management Plan. First off was a series of community outreach meetings, in Cle Elum, Ellensburg, Yakima, and Seattle. Now we are busy synthesizing everything we know about these lands and developing the framework to guide management for years to come.  Most certainly a daunting task.  Luckily, we are able to work with some of the premier ecologists and forest management consultants in WA State, Northwest Natural Resources Group and Stewardship Forestry, in drafting our plan.

What does it take to write a forest management plan for nearly 50,000 acres? Analysis of inventory data, field verification and surveys, ecological modeling, developing maps, and lots of discussion and creative thinking. While this inevitably involves (too much) time in front of computer screens, it also means that we need to get out and get to know these lands in person.

While I’m not sure if we can yet say that the finish line is in sight for the management plan, it is certainly getting closer. I know that the entire team is excited to soon be able to share the details of our plans for these lands. Time and again during the community outreach meetings, I was struck by the long history and deep personal connections that so many people across Washington have with these lands.  It is quite a responsibility and honor that we now have to steward these diverse and amazing lands.

Learn more about the Forests for Our Future.

The Shape of Our Forests - A Geology Walk

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A glimpse into the fascinating past of Washington Forests

Written by Erica Simek Sloniker, Conservation Information Manager
Photographed by Tomas Corsini, Northwest Photographer

Big data is all buzz in the news today, but what exactly is it?

Big data is a broad term used for data sets so large or complex that is difficult to process using traditional techniques. Geologic time is a lot like big data. The Earth’s history starts 4.5 billion years ago, but what does that really mean to our lives today? With a history so vast, how can we begin to comprehend our place in time?

I gave a geology talk to Nature Conservancy staff at a staff field trip on our newly acquired forest preserve in Central Washington, near Cle Elum. Surrounded by the Cascade mountains, the Stuart Range within the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, and on the western edge of the Columbia Pleateau, I attempted to help staff better understand Washington’s geologic history within the vast context of geologic time.

“I need 6 volunteers”, I told the group. Six people walked forward to help hold a 4.5 meter (about 15 feet) string that, when stretched out, marked a few of earth’s major geologic milestones. Each meter on the string represented 1 billion years, each millimeter 1 million years.

Washington is known for its beautiful mountain peaks, meandering coastlines, and its arid landscapes. Due to geologic forces, the Washington we know today gives us a glimpse into its fascinating and complex geologic past. The oldest rocks in Washington are dated to be around 1 billion years old. Just west of present day Spokane and Pullman, the ancient coastline of North America once boasted an abundance of life. Volcanic island arcs from far off places, collided and welded themselves to our ancient coastline, slowly adding more land mass to our state.

It wasn’t until 55 million years ago, that the Pacific Northwest had begun to approximate its present geographic configuration. Since this time, volcanic events dominated northwest geologic history including the building of the Cascade mountain range and fissuring that caused the Columbia River lava flows. More recently, 2 million years ago, a large ice sheet covered the northern portion of our state carving out deep basins like the Puget Sound and depositing vast amounts of sediment. In eastern Washington, just 15,000 years ago, enormous floods from melting ice, holding the water capacity similar of Lake Erie and Ontario, repeatedly thundered across the landscape from the Columbia Plateau to the Pacific Ocean.

“Everyone, take a look at the present day on the geologic time string”, I said. A billion years, Washington’s early beginnings, is less than 1/5th of this string. The early beginning of human kind is only a thumbnail long. Our species, homo sapians, around for just 200,000 years, is but a tiny fraction of a millimeter, unrecognizable to us on this long string.

Our lives in the present day are just a spec in geologic time, yet our actions are vital to the future condition of the ancient landscape around us and all of us who depend on it. A million years goes by fast. What will our legacy be?

G. Tomas Corsini Sr. is a freelance Northwest based photographer working on projects in Digital Media to include: Photography, Video Productions, Video Editing, Web Content Management, Motion Graphics, Graphics Illustration, and more. Learn more about his work here.

Exploring the Central Cascades - Our All Staff Field trip

All-staff meeting at our 48,000 acre Central Cascades acquisition!

Written by Ashley Collings, Philanthropy Administrator
Photographed by Tomas Corsini, Northwest Photographer

Last week, our entire staff had the opportunity to take a field trip out to our newly acquired lands in the Central Cascades. Since we are spread out all over the state, our leadership team makes an enormous effort for us to get together on a quarterly basis to exchange ideas and spend time together as a cohesive team. It’s not easy to coordinate a staff of over 70 people to meet in the wilderness, but it’s something our office culture highly values.

This time we were lucky enough to view the results of a year of hard work to purchase this beautiful land. We met just outside the town of Roslyn, WA and caravanned up to the top of a mountain. From our lookout spot we could see Roslyn and Cle Elum, as well as Mt. Stewart and off in the very distance, Mt. Rainier.

We split up into three experiences. One could choose to learn about forestry and use the tools a forester would use. Another choice was to take a geology walk where the participants learned that the Cascades are a “young” mountain range at only 9 million years old! Or you could commune with nature and take an easy hike through the woods, which we dubbed the Hippie Hike. We also learned about the increasing fire risk to these forests as Washington continues in the drought season.

Meetings like this not only allow us to get out into the field (a major reason why many of us work for The Nature Conservancy), but it also reconnects us to the mission of our organization. There is something very powerful about standing on the side of a mountain and seeing trees and snowcaps and turkey vultures everywhere you look. Lastly, this trip allowed each of us to bond with our coworkers in a way that just can’t be replicated in the office. It’s a different experiencing hiking through the woods with your teammates than sitting at a computer writing emails back and forth.

And thankfully, the weather cooperated! We had a fantastic day!

G. Tomas Corsini Sr. is a freelance Northwest based photographer working on projects in Digital Media to include: Photography, Video Productions, Video Editing, Web Content Management, Motion Graphics, Graphics Illustration, and more. Learn more about his work here.

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Cover Photo – the story behind the picture 

Early Morning High in the Mountains 

Written by Molly Bogeberg, Marc Hershman Marine Policy Fellow
Photographs by TNC and (3) Benj Drummond

We set out early from Seattle, leaving in the dark at 4 a.m. Lauren Miheli, Iris Redwood-Sawyerr, Robin Stanton and I were heading east of Snoqualmie Pass to meet photographer Benj Drummond to capture images of us exploring some of the 48,000 acres of forests the Conservancy was about to acquire in the Central Cascades.

Once we arrived, we consolidated our bags of gear and warm layers and piled into one car to head up the mountain. At our destination on Cabin Mountain, I put on every layer that I had brought with me–a wool layer, puffy down jacket, teal scarf, teal mittens, wool beanie, and my blue raincoat. I had been told that red and orange were the best colors for an outdoor photoshoot, but I could not be convinced. As an ocean- loving, marine scientist (and now a marine policy fellow at the Nature Conservancy), I was sure that blue would be best!

We all donned our headlamps and followed Benj (who had pre-scouted the area) into the dark, straight up to the peak where the photoshoot would commence. As we hiked up the mountain, we did our best not to slip on the slick muddy ground and dew covered rocks. We were met with gusty winds and fog banks moving in and out of the trees. My warm layers seemed futile against the elements and we all found refuge from the wind huddled behind a rock.

Lauren, Iris, and I took turns climbing high up on rocks with our headlamps as the sun started to appear. It was apparent that the light conditions were going to be a challenge. After a couple of hours of waiting for the sun to shine through the high clouds and fog, we lumbered back down to the car and took off down the mountain to get breakfast in a nearby town.

When returned to the site, the light was still not ideal, but Benj showed his expertise and patience working with different angles and locations to get “the shot.” As I climbed to the top of themost prominent rock, it was a little bit precarious, but thanks to a background in ballet I was able to keep my balance. This rock begs to be climbed! It juts out from a ridge on Cabin Mountain and overlooks a gorgeous valley with expansive views of the new land acquisition. It was really a breathtaking place to stand and take in your surroundings.

And that’s what made the cover of Nature Conservancy Magazine!

As an avid hiker, explorer, and conservationist I was excited for this opportunity to see the forest team’s hard work in the Eastern Cascade forests firsthand. I am truly honored to work for an organization that seeks to protect areas such as these to maintain ecosystem services, sustainable jobs, and places for us all to find peace in nature.

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Cle Elum Open House

By Stephanie Burgart, Contracts and Conservation Program Coordinator
Photographs by Tom Bugert & Benj Drummond/LightHawk

“Over here there’s still room,” he commented.

The gentleman, part of a crowd in the large hall of the Cle Elum Putnam Centennial Senior Center, was sharing his reasons for why the lands of the Eastern Cascades are important to his family. They live on the West side of the Cascades, where cities and suburbs encroach more and more on recreational land areas. His comment, and the many others like it, point to a love of outdoor activities in any capacity, and room to enjoy them.

His comment was just one of many shared at the first of three community open houses focused on The Nature Conservancy’s purchase of forestland in the Central Cascades.

Off road vehicle users are a huge interest group in places like Cle Elum, Roslyn, and Ronald. ATVs, side by sides, snowmobiles, street legal bikes, and more take thousands of people into the Cascades every year. Folks who love this form of recreation were active participants in the meeting.

Others spoke of how the local economies benefit from tourists coming to enjoy the backyards of these towns. For others, the best use of the land is for nature – wildlife habitat, forest restoration and untouched wilderness.

Since purchasing 47,921 acres of land from Plum Creek along the I-90 corridor, TNC has engaged interest groups of the surrounding communities in conversations about why this land is a treasure to those who live and play in the area. The open house, the first in a series of three, continued these talks with members of the general public.

Everyone echoed the desire for healthy forests, wildfire protection, water quality and quantity, and recreational use of the land. Maps were drawn on, post it notes stuck up, and comments recorded. It was heartening to see so many people gathered because of a shared and deep love of this place. Those who made it to this event added important pieces to the conversation, and in the next two open houses, there’s still room.

Related Blog Posts

Community engagement critical to conservation

Central Cascades Project Details

Forests for Our Future

Making a Plan for People and Nature    What would you do if your backyard grew by 48,000 acres?    Taking on tens of thousands of acres of forestland between Snoqualmie Pass and Cle Elum is an exciting and challenging project.  Eastern Washington Conservation Director James Schroeder tells about how The Nature Conservancy in Washington is settling in and getting to work.   What’s the first thing you did after the acquisition closed?
   After the handshakes and hugging, step one was to begin meeting with local leaders and communities to learn more about how the land has been used and about people’s vision for the land. In the last two months we’ve had dozens of meetings with locals, ranging from Rotary Clubs to recreational groups and we’ve learned a lot about how the land is valued. We are also getting great input from an  online survey  where people can share their thoughts about the future of these cherished lands. 

   How do you go about getting to know so much land?
   There’s no substitute for first-hand experience.  Our forestry team is out on the ground learning about different areas, documenting current uses, restoration needs and other issues.  At times, the  beauty is quite inspiring , but it also makes clear the need for active restoration. To assure these forests are healthy and thriving, there is much work to be done and we are eager to dig in. 

   When and how will you begin restoration work?
   Our first step is to develop a management plan. This will help us to set our goals for this land and guide our restoration efforts. Our management plan will include many different elements, from how we plan to manage the forest, to what recreation uses will be allowed, to how we will maintain our system of roads and trails. Once we have this plan in place, we will begin specific restoration projects, such as thinning the forest where it is needed, fixing any problem roads or trails, and beginning commercial logging to improve the health of the forest.
   What happens next?
   We are developing our management plan now and will be adding to it over the next 6 months or so. The information we are hearing from recreationists, user groups, interested citizens, and our many members and supporters will help us as we write the plan. Over the next few months, we will continue to gather input and ideas from people so that we can consider them as we go. I am looking forward to three “open house” style meetings we are planning in Cle Elum, Ellensburg, and Yakima in March. We hope to hear from everyone who loves and uses this land and has a stake in its future.
  Meanwhile the lands are open for recreation and are being enjoyed in all kinds of weather – rain, snow and sun. 
  We are holding community meetings in March and invite everyone to attend and  be part of the dialog . 
   What do you dream about as you drive around on this land?
   Wow, I have lots of dreams! Healthy forests that shade water for salmon, protect rivers for agriculture in valleys below, are connected to allow wildlife to migrate, and provide places for humans to relax, escape and enjoy all that nature has to offer.  But I also dream about working forests that provide economic benefit to the communities that depend on them.  Achieving all this will require collaboration and teamwork as communities, conservation groups, local businesses, volunteers, tribes and many others work together to shape these forests for our future. 
 
 
 
    
 
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Making a Plan for People and Nature

What would you do if your backyard grew by 48,000 acres?

Taking on tens of thousands of acres of forestland between Snoqualmie Pass and Cle Elum is an exciting and challenging project. Eastern Washington Conservation Director James Schroeder tells about how The Nature Conservancy in Washington is settling in and getting to work.

What’s the first thing you did after the acquisition closed?

After the handshakes and hugging, step one was to begin meeting with local leaders and communities to learn more about how the land has been used and about people’s vision for the land. In the last two months we’ve had dozens of meetings with locals, ranging from Rotary Clubs to recreational groups and we’ve learned a lot about how the land is valued. We are also getting great input from an online survey where people can share their thoughts about the future of these cherished lands.

How do you go about getting to know so much land?

There’s no substitute for first-hand experience. Our forestry team is out on the ground learning about different areas, documenting current uses, restoration needs and other issues. At times, the beauty is quite inspiring, but it also makes clear the need for active restoration. To assure these forests are healthy and thriving, there is much work to be done and we are eager to dig in.

When and how will you begin restoration work?

Our first step is to develop a management plan. This will help us to set our goals for this land and guide our restoration efforts. Our management plan will include many different elements, from how we plan to manage the forest, to what recreation uses will be allowed, to how we will maintain our system of roads and trails. Once we have this plan in place, we will begin specific restoration projects, such as thinning the forest where it is needed, fixing any problem roads or trails, and beginning commercial logging to improve the health of the forest.

What happens next?

We are developing our management plan now and will be adding to it over the next 6 months or so. The information we are hearing from recreationists, user groups, interested citizens, and our many members and supporters will help us as we write the plan. Over the next few months, we will continue to gather input and ideas from people so that we can consider them as we go. I am looking forward to three “open house” style meetings we are planning in Cle Elum, Ellensburg, and Yakima in March. We hope to hear from everyone who loves and uses this land and has a stake in its future.

Meanwhile the lands are open for recreation and are being enjoyed in all kinds of weather – rain, snow and sun.

We are holding community meetings in March and invite everyone to attend and be part of the dialog.

What do you dream about as you drive around on this land?

Wow, I have lots of dreams! Healthy forests that shade water for salmon, protect rivers for agriculture in valleys below, are connected to allow wildlife to migrate, and provide places for humans to relax, escape and enjoy all that nature has to offer. But I also dream about working forests that provide economic benefit to the communities that depend on them. Achieving all this will require collaboration and teamwork as communities, conservation groups, local businesses, volunteers, tribes and many others work together to shape these forests for our future.

NATURE CONSERVANCY RAISES $33.3 MILLION FOR CONSERVATION

Private donations transform work to restore natural systems in Washington and around the world

SEATTLE: The Nature Conservancy’s three-year Forces of Nature campaign has raised $33.3 million in private dollars for conservation in Washington and internationally. The campaign, the largest in the chapter’s history and one of the largest campaigns for conservation ever in Washington, was focused on conserving and restoring natural systems while enhancing the well-being of people.

“Our economy and quality of life are intertwined with our state’s clean water, abundant natural resources and astounding beauty,” said Mike Stevens, the Conservancy’s Washington director. “Through their generosity to this campaign, the people of Washington have shown they understand and value what we have and are willing to work to steward it.”

“We are grateful to our donors who have demonstrated their passion and commitment to conservation even during difficult economic times,” said Campaign Chair Elaine French, a volunteer and member of the state chapter’s board of trustees.

In all, the Conservancy raised nearly $18 million for acquisitions, $10 million for on-the-ground work, and more than $6 million for international programs.

Funds raised through the Forces of Nature Campaign are already bringing results.

  • Puget Sound: Partnership-driven, high-impact projects are blending flood protection, salmon habitat, stormwater reduction and agricultural preservation across more than 1,000 acres of floodplains along eight major rivers.
  • East Cascade Forests: Critical timberlands have been brought into public ownership and we are partnering to restore forests to reduce the risks of catastrophic megafires, while promoting ways to ensure the economic viability of forest-dependent communities.
  • Olympic Rainforest: We are working hand in hand with coastal communities to conserve and restore forests along our most important coast salmon rivers.
  • Marine Waters: A new program focuses on conserving Washington’s 28,000 square miles of  marine waters and fisheries in Puget Sound and off the coast.
  • Emerald Edge: A new international program conserves habitat, restores forests and fisheries and builds sustainable economies across 70 million acres in the world’s largest temperate rainforest, stretching from the Washington coast through British Columbia and into Southeast Alaska.
  • International: Support from Washington allows Conservancy programs around the world to benefit nature and people, for example protecting elephant habitat in Africa through indigenous communities.

Forty-five donors gave gifts of $100,000 or more. The campaign was also supported by corporations and private foundations, including Boeing, Harriet Bullit’s Icicle Fund, and the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation.

“What makes this campaign so special is our work with people—farmers, fishermen, loggers, business owners, tribal communities—to develop projects that will have the biggest impact on people’s lives and on our future,” said Mary Ruckelshaus, chair of the chapter’s board of trustees. “Using innovative, science-based solutions, we are making life better for people and communities while protecting the natural resources on which we all depend.”

Contact information

Robin Stanton
The Nature Conservancy
(206) 436-6274
rstanton@tnc.org