british columbia

New York Times explores First Nations authority in Great Bear

Photo by Robin Stanton 

Photo by Robin Stanton 

New York Times reporter Kirk Johnson and photographer Ruth Fremson explore the work of First Nations people in British Columbia’s Great Bear Rainforest to assert their authority over their traditional lands and waters.


Here and across the Emerald Edge, the largest intact coastal rainforest left on the planet, the Conservancy is working with First Nations and tribes to achieve longlasting conservation by supporting indigenous authority and helping emerging leaders to thrive.

Read more about the Great Bear Rainforest here:


Read more about the Emerald Edge here:

Canoe Journeys

Photographed by Joel Rogers, Northwest Photographer

Canoe pullers from Tribes and First Nations in Washington and British Columbia arrived at Port Townsend on Saturday, July 23, as part of the Canoe Journey 2016--Paddle to Nisqually.

The journey ends at Swantown Marina in Olympia Saturday, July 30.

For thousands of years the indigenous people of the Pacific Northwest have voyaged in ocean-going canoes. Todays Tribes and First Nations celebrate the strength of their culture with these annual Canoe Journeys, traveling the ancient routes.

Seattle’s (Unofficial) Oil Spill Preparedness Week

Written by Mike Chang, Makah Tribe/TNC Hershman Marine Policy Fellow
Photographs & Images provided by Mike Chang, Clean Pacific, Pacific States/BC Oil Spill Task Force

It’s not every week that you have a whole week dedicated to oil spill preparedness, response, and prevention. This past week, from June 20-25, Seattle was fortunate to host the 2016 Pacific States/British Columbia Oil Spill Task Force annual meeting and the 2016 Clean Pacific Conference

The Nature Conservancy’s Oceans Team and the Makah Tribe’s Office of Marine Affairs have been actively engaged in influencing state and regional transboundary methods of oil spill prevention, preparedness, and response. Together, we have been working on improving the vessel traffic system in the Salish Sea to prevent oil spills affecting the Northwest’s precious marine resources. Last Tuesday, the Pacific States/B.C. Oil Spill Task Force brought state and provincial leaders, federal partners, industry leaders, and indigenous representatives from Hawaii, California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, and British Columbia together to discuss regional updates and best achievable protection (BAP) against oil spills. Much of the day was focused on how to achieve BAP through existing policies, geographic response plans, and technological innovation. State and provincial leaders and industry leaders had frank discussions on how to invest in research and development to hopefully achieve innovative methods of improving oil transportation and preventing oil spills.

The Pacific States/B.C. Oil Spill Task Force segued into the Clean Pacific Conference, an annual meeting designed to bring stakeholders in spill prevention and response. This year’s conference brought governments, community leaders, and industries together to discuss lessons-learned from past spills, best practices in oil spill prevention and response, and a showcase of new products and solutions to keep the Pacific Ocean clean. Chad Bowechop, the director of the Makah Office of Marine Affairs and The Nature Conservancy’s key partner in oil spill prevention and response, participated in a panel discussion on local engagement for oil spill prevention and response. The key theme from the panel discussion was that communication and community engagement on oil spill prevention and response is crucial since each oil spill is unique and the response is tailored and influenced by the local community and their geographic response plan. 

Overall, it was a productive week of engaging in discussions and identifying how our region can continually improve our oil spill prevention, preparedness, and response strategies. 


Act Locally, Share Globally

Written by Bob Carey, Strategic Partnerships Director
Photographs by Flickr Creative Commons

Just a few short hours north of Seattle and set in the vast beauty of British Columbia, the Conservancy's Floodplains by Design program was the featured topic at a Canadian Water Resource Association workshop in Surrey. More than 30 WATER resource management leaders overwhelmingly responded positively when, at the close, their president asked if they were inspired by this work happening just south of the border.  Their response was just as positive when asked if they’d like to see such a program in British Colombia and on the Fraser River. 

The gathering of representatives from BC’s major cities, the BC government, the Fraser River Basin Council and environmental and academic groups represent those on the forefront of managing the Fraser River – the largest river in both BC and the Salish Sea, and the watershed with the highest flood risks in Canada.  The strong affirmation that the “Floodplains by Design” approach makes sense and is applicable across the border made me proud to be part of a team leading the charge in making the region’s rivers more resilient for people and nature.

Restoring nature to address societies most pressing challenges is a prominent theme in the Conservancy's global conservation agenda.  Our Floodplains by Design work in Washington is one of the best success stories of accomplishing this at a meaningful scale.  Having secured $80M in new funding and helped catalyze 30 projects across the state, in which the restoration of nature and reduction of community risks are being pursued hand-in-hand, it’s clear that the approach can deliver tangible benefits to people and nature. That is why the invitations to share our story are numerous.

In addition to myriad audiences in Washington, over the last couple years our WATER team members have shared the Floodplains by Design story with a variety of national and international audiences, including: China Coastal Wetland Conservation Network (China), Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference (Vancouver, BC), American Planning Association (Phoenix), Association of State Floodplain Managers (Atlanta, Seattle), National Academy of Sciences (Washington DC), North American Water Learning Exchange (Pensacola, Phoenix) and the NW Floodplain Management Association (Post Falls, ID).

There are many great things about working for The Nature Conservancy, among them – the ability to innovate, the ability to scale up our work, and the ability to export beyond our borders. 

It’s a recipe for making real change in the world.

Vessel Traffic in the Salish Sea: Preparing for the Future

Written by Michael Chang
Story Map by Michael Chang (2015-2016 Hershman Marine Policy Fellow, Makah Tribe/The Nature Conservancy), Erica Simek Sloniker (GIS & Visual Communications), and Laura Nelson (2014-2015 Hershman Marine Policy Fellow, Makah Tribe/The Nature Conservancy)

The Salish Sea, a body of water between British Columbia and Washington State that includes the Strait of Georgia, the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and Puget Sound, is a region that supports the livelihoods of millions of people. Communities, tribes, and First Nations are intimately dependent on these waters for food, culture, recreation, and industry.

Every year, about 10,000 cargo ships carry hundreds of thousands of gallons of oil through the Salish Sea, creating a constant risk of oil spills in the region that could harm community and tribal livelihoods. However, an intricate network of experts from the Coast Guard, U.S. tribes, Canadian First Nations, state & federal agencies, regional non-profits, and local communities have prevented a major oil spill from occurring in over 20 years.

Recently, there have been several new proposals and developments for oil terminals that will increase the oil shipping volume by twofold. To ensure that the Salish Sea can adapt to the doubling of vessels and oil, the Makah Tribe and TNC have partnered together to organize a trans-boundary vessel safety summit in order to improve the U.S. and Canadian coordination for oil response, prevention, and preparedness.

The Nature Conservancy and Makah have created an interactive story map detailing the vessel safety system and what needs to be done to accommodate the expected increase in vessel traffic.

See the full, interactive story map on vessel traffic on oil spill preparedness and response in the Salish Sea region. 

Great Step Forward for Great Bear

Great Step Forward for Great Bear

The Great Bear Rainforest is a land of towering trees, salmon-filled rivers and peoples with a presence as old as time. On Feb. 1, we celebrated as the government of British Columbia and the governments of 26 First Nations signed an historic agreement that will forever conserve 19 million acres in British Columbia, banning logging on much of the land and setting stringent ecological protections on the remaining portions.

Getting to this agreement is a triumph for many – including indigenous people, conservationists, the forest industry, the provincial government and The Nature Conservancy.

Global Forest Maps Give Local Insights

Written by Erica Simek Sloniker (GIS & Visual Communications) & Ryan Haugo (Senior Forest Ecologist)

Data showing global forest change is providing a glimpse into local stories about Pacific Northwest forests. The University of Maryland, Google and other partners are using satellite data to analyze all types of forest loss, including harvest, fire and tree deaths due to insect outbreaks, in addition to also tracking forest gain. The Landsat satellite system that captures this data is capable of delivering global coverage every 8 days, giving incredible insight into how forest change is monitored globally and locally.  Data was collected between 2000 and 2013. Scroll below to see four local case studies.

CENTRAL CASCADES: Forest gain is shown in blue from regrowth of trees following Plum Creek Timber harvests in the Central Cascades south of Cle Elum. Forest loss is shown in red north of Cle Elum in the Teanaway from harvesting & fire prior to protection from the creation of the Teanaway Community Forests in 2013.

OLYMPIC PENINSULA: Harvesting and regrowth on the Olympic Peninsula near Forks.

OKANOGAN: Striking swaths of red in north central Washington show forest loss as a result of the 2006 Tripod Complex wildfire, which burned over 175,000 acres. The Tripod Complex wildfire is now sandwiched between the 2014 Carlton Complex and the 2015 Okanogan complex fires, which burned over 500,000 combined acres.

BRITISH COLUMBIA: Forest loss in red is likely from pine beetle outbreaks in British Columbia.

Data Sources: InciWeb, FAMWEB, “Okanogan Complex Wildfire now Biggest in State History” Seattle Times – August 25, 2015



For thousands of years, indigenous people have plied the marine waters of the northwest coast of North America, trading, hunting, sharing knowledge and cultures. In this region, people, salmon, oceans and forests are intertwined across political borders. Conservation work must be interconnected as well. 

The Nature Conservancy has launched a new international program, Emerald Edge, to work with First Nations and local communities to protect habitat, restore forests and build sustainable economies across the world’s largest temperate rainforest, the 70 million acres stretching from Washington through British Columbia and into Southeast Alaska. 

Paul Dye, Marine Director for The Nature Conservancy in Washington, shared stories and photos from the Conservancy’s work in the Emerald Edge with members of Washington’s Legacy Club at a special lunch on June 19. 

Legacy Club members are those Nature Conservancy supporters who have chosen to make a lasting commitment to conservation by naming the Conservancy as a beneficiary in their estate plans, or by making a life income gift to the Conservancy. The Legacy Club is a way for us to recognize this profound contribution to The Nature Conservancy’s future. Members have the opportunity to meet Conservancy scientists and conservation practitioners, and get an inside view of the conservation work that is enabled by their generosity. 

We thank our Legacy Club members for their dedication to preserving the diversity of life and for their foresight in providing for its future. 

To learn more about the Legacy Club, contact Daniel Hoon, (206)436-6262, or