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Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Getting back to her roots – Susan Melrose re-joins Washington Wild!

Imagine what it takes to build a movement. A movement to protect wild places, start from the ground up—bring together activists, community leaders, and other organizations all in the name of conservation. It takes hard work and dedication.  No short cuts. Do the work, one person at a time.

This is the movement Karen M. Fant, co-founder of Washington Wild, built in the 1970s and carried with her through the early 2000s. It is a work ethic and drive that was passed along to those around her, including at the time, Program Manager, Susan Melrose. In the early 2000s, Washington Wilderness Coalition was continuing to build the grassroots conservation movement in Washington State. Susan was in the middle of it all and surrounded by legendary activists—many of which were women. 

Karen Fant was a mentor to Susan. She was surrounded by other key female activists, including Polly Dyer, one of the co-founders of the Pacific Northwest Chapter of the Sierra Club. It was hard for Susan not to be inspired by these incredible individuals and the co-founder of what is today, Washington Wild.

This July, Susan Melrose is re-joining the organization as Washington Wild’s new Director of Operations. She is excited to get back to her roots in environmental conservation, but also to bring a new perspective from when she first worked at the organization from 2000 – 2002. For the past 9+ years Susan served as the Executive Director of a community focused organization, West Seattle Junction Association, giving her added skillsets and a deeper understanding of what it takes to run a successful nonprofit.  Susan is looking forward to streamlining processes, digging into the nuts and bolts of the organization, and overall continuing to build a strong organization into the future.
As Susan reflects back on the early days of Washington Wild, and those that inspired her, she also turns to the sheer beauty of the places we work so hard to protect.

“I’m an adventurous spirit. I have traveled all over the world, backpacked through Europe, have been to over 20 different countries –but the Pacific Northwest, and Washington in particular, is still one of the most beautiful places in the world. I love when you’re on a peak in the North Cascades and looking ahead at healthy, vibrant and blanketed forests all around you. Backpacking along clean rivers, old growth trees, and experiencing interconnectedness within each ecosystem. It is just the right thing to do—to leave these special places in-tact. With all of our actions it is important to think long term.  I want my son and future generations to experience these wild places first-hand.”
Wilderness is definitely a passion for Susan and has been since her early days at Washington Wild. As Washington Wild’s new Director of Operations, Susan is thrilled to continue to build on the conservation movement Karen created and to get others involved—one person at a time. 

Monday, July 18, 2016

Brewshed® Alliance Spotlight

Ben Curran 

Co-Owner of Brewshed® Partner, Watershed Pub & Kitchen


Since opening in the spring of 2014, Watershed Pub & Kitchen’s Ben Curran has been one of the strongest supporters of the Washington Wild Brewshed® Alliance, as a partner and as an individual.  The Brewshed® Alliance, now in its 4th year, is an outreach initiative of Washington Wild designed to bring people together with a simple message: protected water makes superior downstream beer. 

Ben started at the Fiddler’s Inn, a sister pub of Brewshed® Partner Latona Pub, at age 22 and quickly found himself at home in the beer community.  As the owner, Bob Brenlin, entrusted Ben with more tasks over the years, the dream of running his own pub began to form.  It took some gentle prodding from Ben’s then girlfriend, and now wife, Kelsey to make that dream a reality.  The dynamic duo teamed up in life and in business as partners, along with his parents, to build the dream that was to become Watershed.

Watershed is located in the Northgate neighborhood next to the daylighted Thornton Creek, which, in part, gave rise to the name.  As Ben puts it, “A watershed is an area defined by the natural flow of water, where people and animals historically gravitate for comfort and survival.  They were the original neighborhoods, which made the name perfect for capturing a sense of community.”

The names Watershed and Brewshed® made a natural connection and Ben reached out to Washington Wild shortly after opening day about our Brewshed® Alliance. In their first year they not only signed up as a Brewshed® Partner, but became the title sponsor of the June Brewshed® Beer Fest.

As with so many of our Brewshed® Partners, the connection goes well beyond the program for Ben.  I’ve been hiking and camping since I can remember.  When I traveled to other places and returned home I’ve always been reminded how beautiful and unique Washington is.  We are happy and excited to do our part as a business to support Washington Wild’s efforts to protect the natural treasures that make our State so unique.”

Visit Watershed Pub & Kitchen in the Northgate neighborhood for a beer, food and good company. www.watershedpub.com

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Conservation Voices: Marc Berejka, REI

An Outdoor Life Well Lived

Marc Berejka, REI


Two young fish say “hello” as they swim past an older one.  Smiling, the older one says, “the water sure is nice today, isn’t it?”  They smile back, swim on, and then look at each other wondering, “what’s water?”  Sometimes you can be so inured to your surroundings, you not only take them for granted, you don’t even realize they’re there. 

At REI, we know an outdoor life is a life well lived.  We relish our wild places, whether they are officially designated a “wild and scenic river,” or a “wilderness area” or are a local park or trail system.  Our forests, grasslands and waters are places to rejuvenate—to share with family and friends. Towering peaks, free flowing rivers and grand vistas bring a natural quiescence to our otherwise busy lives.  Our natural environment is the quiet foundation for this region’s high quality of life.

Since our business operates (and since our members play) so close to the ground, the co-op’s ongoing success demands both changing how limited natural resources are used and expanding people’s access to inspirational places.  We need to be both conservationists and prudent advocates for getting folks into the outdoors, so that the outdoors isn’t taken for granted.

Protecting Outdoor Places


This is a tradition for REI and others in the outdoor industry.  We recognize the need to give back to the land.  Among other things, REI is a founding member of the Conservation Alliance, and through that alliance have supported successful efforts to designate the Wild Sky Wilderness in 2008 and the Alpine Lakes Wilderness Additions in 2014.

We currently are working with Washington Wild and other members of the Wild Olympics Campaign to protect recreational access, forests and watersheds on the Olympic Peninsula. The proposal would protect 126,000 acres of new Wilderness on Olympic National Forest and more than 460 miles of Wild and Scenic Rivers on the Olympic Peninsula while preserving and enhancing recreational access.

Protecting inspirational, iconic outdoor places and recreational access for our members is one way we drive change for our community. It also makes good business sense for the entire state. According to a 2014 Outdoor Industry Association study, each year in Washington State outdoor recreation contributes more than $22.5 billion in consumer spending to the state's economy, directly supports 227,000 jobs and generates $1.6 billion in annual state and local tax revenue. Each year, more than three million Washington residents actively participate in outdoor recreation. We know them well; our employees work hard to provide them the best in outdoor gear and expertise every day.

Creating Access


Our not-so-secret mission at REI is to get our increasingly diverse population into the outdoors, but with respect and care. As members and employees, we love spending time outside and we’re helping to build a community of people who feel the same way. One of the most important ways we do that is by working with local partners like Washington Wild to increase access to outdoor places.


Thankfully, we are nowhere near alone in this mission. Because of the co-op’s success, we’re able to invest in nonprofits across the United States that are committed to a shared goal of sustaining and improving access. In 2015, REI invested almost $8.5 million in more than 300 local, regional and national nonprofits working to care for and increase access to more than 1,000 inspiring outdoor places. These are co-op member-dollars returned to the places people love.

Protecting wild places and providing access to them, too often, are thought of as conflicting goals. In fact, each value can support the other and provide the full suite of recreational, conservation and economic benefits that can be an important boost to local economies. Wilderness trailheads are often the most sought after as we are increasingly drawn to the mountains to balance the pavement and din of our busy lives with the anticipation and solitude of wild places.

Since 23 mountaineering friends founded the co-op more than 78 years ago, REI has always been about the joy of a life lived outside. Our founders believed that life is better outdoors. Breathing fresh air, exploring, teaching one another new skills in the majestic landscape of the Pacific Northwest and beyond. They understood their responsibility to the outdoors and the community that depends on it. We proudly follow in their tracks.

Marc Berejka is Director of Government & Community Affairs at REI, the nation’s oldest outdoor co-op, which was founded in Seattle and which counts as members hundreds of thousands of Washingtonians. Fish parable borrowed from David Foster Wallace's "This is Water.”

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Wild Profile: Gray Madden, Filson


Gray Madden

President at Filson


The Pacific Northwest is well known for its abundance of wild places and easy access to world class recreational opportunities. Not surprisingly a number of outdoor industry leaders call Washington State home. One such company is Filson which has developed, sampled, cut and sewn its unfailing outdoor gear from their headquarters in Seattle’s SoDo district since 1897.

The President of Filson, Gray Madden, understands the connection between protecting wild places and outdoor recreation. “Wild places inspire us to achieve, appreciate and respect. These values are part of Filson’s century old heritage which started right here in Seattle,” said Madden. “Supporting Washington Wild is a natural fit for us—they serve to protect the stunning landscapes and world class recreational opportunities that contribute to the high quality of life of our region.”


Filson’s commitment to protecting wild places is demonstrated through its membership in the Conservation Alliance, a coalition of outdoor industry companies that fund and partner with organizations like Washington Wild to protect wild places. Through the Conservation Alliance, Filson has supported efforts to designate the 106,000-acre Wild Sky Wilderness in 2008. The outdoor company also hosted Wild Rivers Night in 2014, an evening of inspirational films about Washington’s wild rivers and the threats they face. Over 200 river enthusiasts attended the event at Filson’s headquarters, coordinated by Washington Wild and other conservation organizations.

In 2015, after the Alpine Lakes Wilderness Additions was signed into law, Filson hosted a celebration of new protections for 22,000 acres of additions to the Alpine Lakes Wilderness and nearly 40 river miles of new Wild and Scenic Rivers near Snoqualmie Pass. Washington Wild and partnering organizations celebrated the victory with Senator Patty Murray and Representative Suzan DelBene, both sponsors of the act. Over the years, Filson has become a strong supporter of Washington Wild’s work, sponsoring our 2015 Wild Night Out event and helping us celebrate our new Executive Director with friends and supporters at an event this Spring.

Tour the flagship store of this iconic U.S.- made brand that is committed to protecting wild places.  www.filson.com 

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Take the Earth Day Challenge with Washington Wild!

Earth Month is here and it’s time to celebrate! Join Washington Wild’s celebration by participating in the EarthShare Earth Day Challenge!


Washington's wild forests have stood untouched for hundreds of years and as our population continues to increase and climate change threats appear on the horizon, we must work to permanently protect the intact forests and watersheds that remain. Washington Wild has led state-wide efforts to develop Wilderness and Wild and Scenic River designation campaigns, the strongest protections available for federal lands and waters. Since our founding in 1979, the organization has helped to protect nearly three million acres of Wilderness in Washington State, including the designation of Wild Sky Wilderness and, most recently, the Alpine Lakes Wilderness Additions.

Earth Day provides an opportunity for Washington Wild and the conservation community to celebrate and provide support for our wild places that not only provide world-class outdoor recreation opportunities, but also clean our water, purify our air and provide critical habitat for wildlife such as salmon, grizzly bears and lynx.

Washington Wild is a member of EarthShare Washington, which represents a variety of conservation groups working together to make our planet and communities better, cleaner, and greener. To recognize Earth Day they're challenging companies, schools, community groups and individuals to support the environmental community in Washington State. Washington Wild is excited to take part in The Earth Day Challenge and encourages you to take the challenge as well!

3 Ways to Take the Earth Day Challenge and Make a Difference:

1) Do ONE thing to reduce your impact on the environment. Our Communications and Development Director has reduced her impact by biking to work at least once a week for the month of April.


2) Help Washington Wild raise $1,000 for the Earth Day Challenge! Support Washington Wild's Earth Day Team

3) Volunteer! There are tons of awesome volunteer opportunities this month: Volunteer Opportunities

Our wild lands are a legacy that we must pass on to future generations and Washington Wild works hard to ensure we do so. Earth Day is a great reminder to all of us to take charge and challenge ourselves to reduce our impact on the environment and protect our wild spaces and places, whether through a small lifestyle change or supporting the conservation organizations working hard in our state. We hope you will join us this year for the Earth Day Challenge!

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Sage Spirit Presentation Series in Eastern Washington

Washington Wild is leading efforts statewide to provide meaningful protections for Washington’s unheralded wild lands in eastern Washington. As the largest single land manager of sagebrush habitat in Eastern Washington, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has a critical opportunity this summer to provide meaningful protections through their Resource Management Plan for lands with Wilderness characteristics, wildlife habitat and year round recreational opportunities.

Audubon Washington is proud to sponsor a series of presentations by conservation photographer Dave Showalter, author of Sage Spirit: The American West at a Crossroads. Through his stunning photography, Showalter presents a vision for an American West where people and wildlife thrive side by side, replete with birdsong and the sweet aroma of sage. His images carry you through the vast terrain of the American West that is inhabited by burrowing owls, sage grouse, cranes and other wildlife. Sage Spirit promotes an inclusive approach to conservation—one that seeks to preserve economic livelihood and treasured lifestyles as well as a priceless ecosystem—and highlights the solutions that Westerners are already advancing, from sustainable ranching to renewable energy development.

Showalter will present photos and stories to inspire conversation about the importance of shrub steppe habitat and public lands in Eastern Washington. The gradual disappearance of sagebrush habitat in the West is having a profound effect on a wide variety of wildlife species such as the Brewer’s Sparrow, Sage Sparrow, Sage Thrasher, pygmy rabbit, and mule deer.



Sage Spirit Presentation Schedule (March 14 – 19, 2016)

MONDAY, MARCH 14 at 7:00 pm (LEAVENWORTH, WA)
The Barn @ Barn Beach Reserve - 347 Division Street, Leavenworth, WA 98826

TUESDAY, MARCH 15 from 6-8:30 pm (TWISP, WA)
Presentation organized by the Methow Conservancy & N. Central Audubon
The Merc Playhouse - 101 S. Glover Street, Twisp, WA 98856

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 16 at 7:30 pm (Spokane, WA)
Humanities Washington “Think& Drink” forum
Lindaman’s Bistro - 1235 S. Grand Blvd, Spokane, WA 99202

THURSDAY, MARCH 17 at 7:00 pm (Ellensburg, WA)
Presentation for Kittitas Audubon Society
Hal Holmes Center - 209 N. Ruby St, Ellensburg, WA 98926

FRIDAY, MARCH 18 from 6-8:00 pm (Richland, WA)
Presentation hosted by Lower Columbia Basin Audubon
The Reach - 1943 Columbia Park Trail, Richland WA 99352

SATURDAY, MARCH 19 at 4:00 pm (Othello, WA)
Othello High School - 340 S. 7th Ave, Othello, WA 99344

For more information email Christi Norman at Washington Audubon

Background on BLM Lands in Eastern Washington

These wild lands support a variety of important values: habitat for imperiled species, sustainable livelihoods, recreational opportunities and beautiful sun-drenched landscapes for residents and visitors alike.

As part of the upcoming Resource Land Management Plan (RMP) for BLM lands in eastern WA, the BLM should:

·         Protect the remaining sagebrush habitat for biodiversity – including species such as greater sage-grouse, Brewer’s and sage sparrows, sage thrasher, pygmy rabbit, and mule deer which rely on this imperiled ecosystem – by designating Habitat Concentration Areas and Areas of Critical of Environmental Concern.
·         Apply climate change science in the prioritization of conservation areas.
·         Manage contiguous wild landscapes like Chopaka Mountain, Juniper Hills, Beezley Hills/Moses Coulee and Douglas/Duffy Creek as Lands with Wilderness Characteristics.
·         Support management of the free flowing Yakima and Similikimeen Rivers as Wild and Scenic Rivers.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Continuing the Conservation Adventure: Ariel West joins Washington Wild!

I am thrilled to be joining Washington Wild as the new administrative assistant and grateful for the warm welcome from the organization! My interest in conservation work really began when I decided to spend a year in China teaching English and gain a better understanding of the world outside of the U.S. When I first arrived in Beijing the heavy fog that surrounded me limited my vision to a 10 foot radius. I remember thinking that the bad weather was just a fluke and that it would clear in the morning, hoping it was not an omen for the year to come. The next morning I stepped outside of the hotel and was completely dumbstruck. The fog had not dissipated, nor did it seem that it had any intention to. After speaking to the breakfast vendor making my baozi I soon learned that this was not a symptom of bad weather, but rather the daily smog that hung over Beijing. Needless to say I was shocked. The smog, roughly the equivalent of smoking upwards of 20 cigarettes a day, was a part of life for the city and face masks were daily attire.

Throughout my year there I witnessed countless incidents of extreme pollution and severe environmental degradation. Before I could actually drink the water in my apartment it had to be boiled and brushing my teeth was a task accomplished with bottled water. As an avid runner, hiker, backpacker, and general lover of the outdoors, I was devastated that checking the air quality index was a constant barrier in my ability to do the things I loved.  The few hikes that I went on outside the city showed little concern for the once pristine natural beauty of the area and the trails and landscapes were littered with old trash and cigarette butts. With new perspective on the potential consequences of human impact on the environment, I returned to the states to begin my graduate degree at the University of Washington.

Moving to Seattle was a breath of fresh air, literally. I was inspired by the people and communities here that were so passionate and committed to keeping their state pristine and going the extra mile to advocate for the environment. I started having conversations with peers about the efforts in Washington State and realized I wanted to be a part of this effort. The work that Washington Wild does is inspiring and I am so excited to be a part of it. Working to protect wilderness areas and water sources can ensure that the experience I had in China can never be part of the Washington State experience. Through enacting legislation, informing the public, finding non-traditional allies, and working with an already environmentally-minded community, Washington Wild has made a huge impact on Washington State. My hope for the future working with this organization is that my own love for the outdoors can be passed on and preserved for future generations to enjoy in its purest and intended form.