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2023 Conservation Accomplishments

Posted on Jan 5, 2024 in Conservation News, WA Wild Blog

Change is incremental. The ‘big wins’ Washington Wild works toward and celebrates—like the recent decision by Ecology to designate our state’s first-ever Outstanding Resource Waters—are the result of the countless, everyday efforts from our staff, board, community partners, and supporters like you. While they may seem small at the time, they build up in a big way and eventually effect real, lasting change.

Just look at the numbers below—throughout the year, you all responded to 15 different action alerts generating over 3,000 comments to our elected officials and state agencies! From calling for the removal of the four Lower Snake River dams and advocating for environmentally just climate solutions to holding our state agencies accountable, your continued commitment to our beloved wild places and continued support of Washington Wild’s mission is always our biggest accomplishment.

2023 HIGHLIGHTS

Ecology Designates State’s First ‘Outstanding’ Rivers!

Building a coalition of more than 211 diverse stakeholders, and generating nearly 300 public comments from our supporters alone, Washington Wild helped lead the grassroots effort to designate the Cascade, Green, and Napeequa Rivers as the first-ever Outstanding Resource Waters (ORW) in Washington State. ORW designation will provide meaningful protection for these rivers by prohibiting any future degradation of water quality. The Washington Department of Ecology ended a 70-day public comment period at the end of September and announced their decision on December 18, 2023.

4,000 Acres of State Forest Lands Protected

During the 2023 legislative session, Washington Wild played a key role in supporting the Trust Land Transfer (TLT) program to protect over 4,000 acres of state forest lands managed by the Washington Department of Natural Resources. Helping build a coalition of more than 100 conservation, recreation, and wildlife organizations, Washington Wild secured nearly $20 million in funding for the TLT program. This funding was allocated to protect six conservation projects around the state including Dabob Bay on the Olympic Peninsula, Chapman Lake near Spokane, and Upper Dry Gulch near Chelan.

Our Biggest Brewshed® Collaboration Yet

Epitomizing the power of the Washington Brewshed®, the Clean Water for Great Beer IPA brewed in August was a celebration of the craft brewing industry’s commitment to protecting watershed health from peak to pint. Reaching across both sides of the Cascades, east met west in this hazy IPA brewed by Lumberbeard Brewery of Spokane and Here Today Brewery & Kitchen of Seattle. With Salmon-Safe ingredients donated by Yakima Chief Hops, Linc Malt, and Cold Stream Malt, every sip of this beer was a reminder of our responsibility to safeguard our wild places.

Billy Frank Jr Statue to Honor Washington State in U.S. Capital

Governor Inslee signed legislation and a budget bill providing authorization and funding for two statues—one in the Statuary Hall of the US Capitol Building in Washington, D.C, the other in the Washington State Legislative Building in Olympic—honoring Nisqually Tribe and Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission Chairman Billy Frank Jr. Washington Wild worked with the bill sponsor, Washington State Representative Debra Lekanoff, to support this effort through testimony and engaging our supporters to send emails to state legislators.

US Forest Service Reinstates Protections for 9 Million Acres of Old Growth Forest

In response to the Trump Administration’s 2019 repeal of Roadless Rule Protections for 9 million acres of pristine old-growth in Alaska’s Tongass National Forest, Washington Wild led the statewide grassroots effort to uphold these same protections for 2 million acres of national forests here in Washington State. Simultaneously, Washington Wild generated hundreds of public comments urging the Biden Administration to reinstate the Roadless Rule for the Tongass, which the US Forest Service announced on January 25th.

Indigenous Oral History of Climate Impacts Project

Washington Wild and THIS IS INDIAN COUNTRY have partnered to capture traditional ecological knowledge from Northwest tribal elders regarding the climate crisis and potential solutions. To date, 25 interviews have been recorded with a corresponding middle/high school curriculum. In 2024, we plan to complete a supplemental hour-long broadcast documentary on the same subject to complement the oral histories and curriculum.

PROTECTING WASHINGTON’S WILD PLACES ALL YEAR LONG

JANUARY
In support of the Washington Climbers Coalition, WA Wild coordinated a letter of support signed by 19 conservation and recreation groups to secure grant funding to maintain access to, and the sustainable use of, popular climbing routes

FEBRUARY
Coordinated a letter signed by 178 organizations and elected officials supporting $100 million in federal funding for the repair and maintenance of Legacy Roads and Trails in our state’s National Forests

MARCH
Members of WA Wild’s board and staff were quoted in articles published by both The Skagit Valley Herald and the Seattle Times regarding efforts to designate the first-ever Outstanding Resource Waters in Washington State

APRIL
Worked with Schilling Cider, Latona Pub, Chucks Hop Shop, Ridwell, and Hot Cakes to host five Earth Month events to raise awareness and more than $30,000 to protect Washington’s wild places

MAY
Met with U.S. Representative Kim Schrier (D-WA08) alongside other local conservation groups to discuss protecting old-growth forests, wild rivers, and salmon habitat on the west slope of the North Cascades in her new congressional district

JUNE
Sent out an action alert to our supporters generating 106 messages and coordinated a letter signed by 28 organizations to defend the Alpine Lakes Wilderness against potential impacts from proposed dam construction

JULY
Coordinated a letter signed by 64 local stakeholders calling on the Washington State Department of Ecology and Department of Fish and Wildlife to uphold the hard-fought 2020 ban on motorized suction dredge mining in critical salmon habitat

AUGUST
Staff joined U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) on a hike along the Big Quilcene, which would receive permanent protection through Wilderness and Wild and Scenic River designations as part of the Wild Olympics legislation currently moving through Congress

SEPTEMBER
Chosen by Coldplay as one of two local grassroots organizations to be highlighted at their concert at Lumen Field during a pre-show “activation” which allowed us to share our mission with their fans

OCTOBER
Over 200 emails from our supporters urged members of the Washington congressional delegation to support the efforts of Tribes and conservation groups to restore salmon habitat on the lower Snake River by removing the dams and replacing the energy and transportation services they provide

NOVEMBER
Worked to protect the Mt Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest from unregulated private helicopter flights by coordinating a letter signed by 38 conservation, recreation, and wildlife groups calling on the US Forest Service to close a loophole in regulations

DECEMBER
Joined partners to celebrate the close of the We Are Puget Sound exhibit at the Burke Museum, which we helped open with the June release of Brewshed® Member Lucky Envelope’s We Are Puget Sound Hazy Pale Ale