2020 was a tough year for all of us, but we found new and innovative ways to fight to protect and defend Washington State’s wildlands and waterways.
On March 18th, Governor Jay Inslee signed legislation that would ban the harmful practice of motorized suction dredge mining in stream segments designated as critical salmon habitat in Washington State. This was a hard-fought and long-awaited victory for protecting the billion-dollar investment in salmon recovery from federal and local governments, Tribes, and conservation groups. Washington Wild coordinated a coalition of more than 160 conservation, recreation and wildlife organizations, faith leaders, local businesses, elected officials and other stakeholders.
The Wild Olympics Coalition cheered a major bi-partisan vote in Congress last year that helped advance important public lands and rivers legislation, including the Wild Olympics Wilderness and Wild and Scenic Rivers Act sponsored by Senator Patty Murray and Representative Derek Kilmer (D-WA06). The legislation passed with a number of other public land bills as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act. Washington Wild is a founding member of the Wild Olympics Campaign, which is working to support legislation that would permanently protect more than 126,000 acres of Olympic National Forest as wilderness and more than 460 miles of Wild and Scenic Rivers on the Olympic Peninsula. The Wild Olympics is a balanced proposal developed with extensive local community input to preserve ancient forests, protect clean water, and enhance outdoor recreation while not impacting local timber jobs.
On August 4th, the President signed the Great American Outdoors Act into law. This is one of the most important pieces of conservation legislation in recent memory. Not only does it permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund, but it supports hundreds of thousands of jobs and funds vital maintenance for our national parks, forests and other public lands. Washington Wild has lead effort in the state pushing for LWCF funding including holding a rally at Greenlake in 2019 with Senator Cantwell.
Washington Wild received a grant from the Swinomish Tribal Indian Nation to support our efforts to protect the Skagit River Headwaters from a current mining threat from Imperial Metals and for long-lasting protections. In 2019, Washington Wild lead an international coalition of more than 140 conservation, recreation, and wildlife groups that successfully fought to halt future clearcut logging of pristine areas in the Canadian headwaters of the iconic Skagit River. This new grant will support our efforts in reviving the fight to oppose the still pending mining permit in the Skagit Headwaters.
On September 18, the Mt. Baker Snoqualmie National Forest greenlighted two new recreational improvements including maintenance for the Blanca Lake Trail and construction of the Heybrook Ridge Connecting Trail in or near the Wild Sky Wilderness.
The decision was made in response to a letter coordinated by Washington Wild signed by 19 conservation, recreation and wildlife organizations supporting improved maintenance and more sustainable recreational use in areas that already provide hiking and other recreational use.
Our first virtual fundraising event, appropriately called ‘Wild Night In’, was a success. At the event, we presented, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell with our 2020 Conservation Voices Award for her leadership and support for the successful America’s Great Outdoors Act. Local activist Kim McDonald received our 2020 Karen M. Fant Founders Award for her decade long efforts and work with WA Wild to successfully pass legislation banning motorized suction dredge mining in critical salmon habitat areas in Washington rivers and streams. Yakima’s Bale Breaker Brewing Company received our 2020 Brewshed® Alliance Award for their work with us on releasing the Brewshed® IPA which benefits efforts to protect sources of Clean Water and our public lands.
Protecting Washington’s Wild Places All Year Long
As a member of both the Olympic Forest Collaborative and Darrington Collaborative, Washington Wild served as the fiscal sponsor for two grants from the Washington Department of Natural Resources supporting common ground solutions by conservation and timber interests around forest and aquatic restoration efforts on the Olympic and Mt Baker Snoqualmie National Forests. A video update of the Darrington Collaborative can be viewed here.
Executive Director Tom Uniack testified in Olympia before the House Rural Development, Agriculture, & Natural Resources Committee in support of a SJM 8014 which requests that British Columbia work with the city of Seattle and the Skagit Environmental Endowment Commission to prevent logging and mining in the headwaters of the iconic Skagit watershed, to ensure the area’s environmental and recreational resources are permanently protected.
Aslan Brewing celebrated the opening of their new Fremont location with the release of a new beer, “Rocket Fuel.” Proceeds of the Mocha Horchata Brown Ale went to Washington Wild and our Brewshed® Alliance.
Washington Wild celebrated Earth Week with a series of Virtual Happy Hours with more than 100 participants. Each event highlighted conservation, business, and Brewshed® partners speaking on topics such as the Wild Olympics, the Skagit Headwaters, Methow Valley Headwaters, Land and Water Conservation (LWCF) Funding, and Roadless Forests.
Washington Wild was joined by Crystal Elliot Perez, Washington Habitat Director for Trout Unlimited and Travis Merrigan, Co-founder of GRAYL for a virtual happy hour to discuss the legislation around motorized suction dredge mining regulation.
Washington Wild (in conjunction with the Chehalis River Alliance) coordinated a letter signed by 50 organizations and businesses to speak out against the proposed dam on the Chehalis River. The proposed dam, to be built near the town of Pe Ell, would be destructive to critical salmon habitat.
The Bureau of Land Management completed a controversial geothermal lease sale for one of two areas within Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest near Mt. Baker. Washington Wild coordinated a letter that successfully established protections for wild and scenic rivers, roadless forests and wildlife habitat pertaining to any developed geothermal leases moving forward.
Washington Wild (in conjunction with the North Cascade Conservation Council), coordinated a letter signed by 31 conservation, recreation, and wildlife organizations to strongly urge the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to promote a robust trust land transfer (TLT) project list to the Washington State Legislature and specifically promote the protection of the Cascade River in the upper Skagit River basin.
Washington Wild completed an Action Alert that sent nearly 1,000 messages to Secretary Perdue of the US Department of Agriculture and Chief Christiansen of the U.S. Forest Service opposing the repeal of 9 million acres of ancient forests protected by the Roadless Rule in Alaska’s Tongass National Forest.
Washington Wild coordinated a letter signed by 72 conservation, recreation, and wildlife organizations, local business leaders, and elected officials to express opposition to the U.S. Forest Service’s proposed exemption of Alaska’s Tongass National Forest from long-standing protections under the 2001 Roadless Rule. Eleven of our Brewshed® Alliance partners from across the state joined in this effort to protect one of America’s greatest national treasures.
Washington Wild unveiled a new Conservation Chat web series hosted by Everett native Jaidacyn Madrigal, host of the EcoGirl youtube channel.) The Conservation Chat series takes an in-depth look at Washington Wild’s conservation issues, including the Wild Olympics, protecting salmon habitat, protecting the Skagit Headwaters, and a history of Washington Wild’s first 40 years.
Brewshed® Alliance member Big Time Brewing released Upstream IPA, donating a generous 40% of the proceeds to Washington Wild. The occasion was marked with a virtual tasting event on December 22, hosted by Kendall Jones of the Washington Beer Blog. Kendall spoke with Big Time brothers Rick and Roy — owner and head brewer, respectively — and Washington Wild’s Brewshed® Manager Chris Chappell