snow pack

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!


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. 



Washington snowpack smallest in 35 years

This year our state is facing a big water challenge

Inforgraphics and Written by Erica Simek Sloniker, GIS and Visual Communications & James Robertson, Spatial Analyst
Photograph by Karl Johnson

In Washington, the majority of our water supply arrives in the form of snow. Snowpack provides a reliable water supply for the needs most of us enjoy as well as the habitats we explore in. Looking back over the last 35 years, Washington is experiencing its lowest snowpack.

Water levels this year give us a window into the future, of what we can expect and plan for with a changing climate. The drought affects everything we do in conserving Washington from increasing wildfire risk, to low stream flows which can dramatically affect salmon survival. The drought also increases wildfire risk, which is already severely high on the east side of the Cascades, but also makes potential for wildfire on the west side of the Cascades a reality as well.

This year’s drought presents an opportunity to teach us how to be more resilient when our natural resources become stressed. The Nature Conservancy is committed to finding long-term solutions to weather the impacts of climate change. Across the organization, The Nature Conservancy is conserving forests which store carbon, hold water, and cool streams, is working to protect communities from storms and floods, and is helping landscapes and people become better adapted to fire risks.