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North Cascades Puget Sound Headwaters Initiative

Washington Wild is exploring a long-term Puget Sound Headwaters Initiative focused on protecting upper watersheds, providing clean and cool water for fish, wildlife, local farms and families, wild forests and ultimately, the ailing Puget Sound. For more than 30 years we have worked to complete the work to protect the ancient forests that were left out of the 1984 Washington State Wilderness Act and we are continuing to identify opportunities to move this work forward.

Sunset at Park Butte Lookout, Photo Courtesy of Andy Porter

Sunset at Park Butte Lookout, Photo Courtesy of Andy Porter

The wild forests and rivers of the North Cascades represent the source of Puget Sound. These rivers provide most of the freshwater input into the Puget Sound estuaries, which serve as critical habitat for a wide range of species, especially all five species of Western Pacific salmon. The low-elevation forest and riparian areas also provide the high-quality habitat needed for a range of species to survive, recover, and combat changing climates- species including: cougar, lynx, black-tailed deer, elk, eagles, river otter black bears, and endangered grizzly bears, only 20 of which currently exist in the North Cascades. In addition, these ecosystems hold a high cultural value to over 10 local tribes.

The low-elevation watersheds contained on the west slope of the North Cascades provide drinking water to over 900,000 people in Snohomish and Whatcom Counties. Whatcom County has some of Washington’s most valuable agricultural lands and brings in over $260 million of revenue a year. These watersheds support Whatcom County’s berry industry, which supplies over 75% of the raspberries and nearly 17 million pounds of blueberries each year in the US. The loss of these watersheds would be a significant economic burden on Washington’s economy.

By permanently protecting these areas, we can ensure the preservation of fish and wildlife species, tribal culture and economy, and the availability of wild places for millions of residents who use these lands for year round recreation and clean water. These efforts could benefit nearly one million residents in King, Snohomish, Skagit, and Whatcom Counties with world-class recreation, ecotourism opportunities, clean drinking water, and sustainable fishing and farming business.

New Mining Roads Proposed in Mt. Baker-North Roadless Area

Washington Wild joined 14 other groups on a letter to the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest raising concern for the redevelopment of the Excelsior Mine. In addition to opposing new road building in an Inventoried Roadless Area, the project could have potential negative impacts on Spotted Owl critical habitat and riparian reserves.  


Conservation Groups Support Translocation of Mountain Goats from the Olympics to North Cascades

Today, Washington Wild coordinated a comment letter signed by 6 other conservation organizations to the Olympic National Park Superintendent regarding their Mountain Goat Management Plan. Mountain goats are not native to the Olympics and their presence has raised concerns for both ecological impacts to the habitat, including soil erosion and displacement of native species, and visitor […]


Conservation, Recreation Groups Oppose Mining Expansion in North Cascades Roadless Area

Today, Washington Wild coordinated a letter signed by 21 conservation and recreation organizations and local businesses to the Mt. Baker Snoqualmie National Forest. The letter expressed concern over the draft Environmental Assessment for the 10 acre expansion of the Swen Larson olivine quarry on the Mt. Baker Snoqualmie National Forest in Whatcom County. Read the Comment […]

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