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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Around the Office: Volunteers Key to Wilderness Visions Success

Posted by: Amber Benson

It's hard to believe we're wrapping up the final days of August. Summer at WWC has been a blur of tabling events, art walks, outdoor activities, with the random ice cream break thrown somewhere in the mix. But with the end of summer begins the craze of preparing for Wilderness Visions, our annual dinner and auction. Wilderness Visions is a key event at WWC. Not only does it allow us to interact with our members and supporters on a personal basis, but it also allows us to raise the money we need to continue to push our latest conservation efforts.

One thing is for certain, Wilderness Visions would not be a success without the ongoing support of our volunteers. Starting 11 months before and working up until the final minutes, volunteers play an integral part in the planning process and implementation of this major event. Initially, duties are fairly light and can often be fun, especially when it comes to scouting out the site for the event and getting to taste test possible catering companies! When we're about six months out, the work load starts to pile up. This is when volunteers start brainstorming companies to solicit for auction items, sponsorships, food donations, and decorations. After the list is compiled, they help us create the dozens and dozens of letters and get them in the mail.

The next few weeks are a bit of a waiting game as we wait for donations to arrive. So, in the mean time, we start thinking of who we would like to be the guest speaker. We usually start with a list of 4-6 potentials. We also use this lull as an opportunity to decide on a menu and start thinking of decorations, themes, etc.

At this point in the process we're probably at our current point on the timeline - September. We've now got donations piling up, we've chosen a speaker (awaiting confirmation), we have a theme in mind, and we're finalizing decoration ideas. Next on the agenda is to draft the email invitation and begin designing the program. While these two duties are more staff projects, the volunteers still have plenty to do as they continue processing all the donations and make follow-up calls on requests.

It appears we've accomplished a lot, however, events like these are never done until their done. Between now and November 12, we will begin to rely on volunteers even more as we start to design center pieces for the tables, process ticket purchases, prepare bid sheets for all the donated items and juggle all the last minute changes that are sure to arise before and on the day of the event.

We hope that you will be able to join us on November 12 at the Shilshole Bay Beach Club in Ballard to celebrate our 30th anniversary at the 2009 Wilderness Visions. Thanks to the hard work of all our volunteers, we are sure it will be an enjoyable evening filled with great company, delicious food, and overwhelming support.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Light in the Forests

Posted by Michael Lanthier

New York Times Editorial talks about Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack's speech held in Seattle last week and the importance to resolving the Roadless Rule.

Ostensibly to promote regulatory efficiency, but mainly to support logging, the Bush rules eliminated legally-mandated environmental reviews, weakened protections for wildlife and streams and restricted public input in decision-making. Mr. Vilsack has said he will restore those protections; conservationists should make sure he keeps that promise.

Discover the work Washington Wilderness has been doing to make sure Vilsack and President Obama uphold their promises to protect roadless areas and do your part in sending a note to Senator Maria Cantwell, a leader on roadless protections.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Adventure Report: Mt. Daniel, Alpine Lakes Wilderness

Posted by: Drew Collins

Ah, the joys of a weekend backpack! Three of my friends and I packed up and headed to the Alpine Lakes Wilderness for a hike to Peggy’s Pond with a climb of Mt. Daniel planned.

We left civilization in historic Roslyn (from Northern Exposure) and headed along Lake Cle Elum and deep into the Cle Elum River Valley. A long, winding, and bumpy gravel road led us to the trailhead at the wonderful time of 7:30, and we were off and hiking up into the low clouds at 8:00 PM Friday. We had hoped to get to Peggy’s Pond that night, but that was wishful thinking.

Taking the Cathedral Pass trail we reached the Trail Creek Trail junction and took out our lights. It was dark, misty, and we needed lights to avoid tripping. With half the hike to Peggy’s Pond ahead of us, the next flat spot would be our campsite for the night. We found the shores of Squaw Lake not a moment too soon and set up camp.

When we arrived at the lake, a friend of mine said, “Finally!” but we quickly hushed him since there was a faint outline of another tent close to the lake. “SHHH! Let’s just be quiet and set up camp quickly!” It was about 9:30 by then, and we assumed that the campers were asleep. We gingerly set up camp, being careful not to make too much noise with the nylon tents, hung our food and slept. The next day we woke up to find that what we saw as a tent outline was a large boulder… DOH.

What we did find near the lakeshore were lots of yummy blueberries! I had never found many before when I hiked, so they were a real treat, sweet like candy.

After packing up, we followed the Cathedral Pass trail further until its junction with the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) which was surrounded by a few buggy tarns. Views opened up of the surrounding peaks, and the monolith of Cathedral Rock straight ahead. We could see Mt. Stewart, Granite and Trico, the Citadel and down in the valley, the blue water and green meadows of Deep Lake.

Following the trail down a few switchbacks brings you to the trail to Peggy’s Pond, which is marked, but not that great. Some scrambly parts are on this trail which steeply clings to the side of Cathedral Rock. Take the lower trail to Peggy’s Cabin, or the higher trail to the pond once you reach a little drainage dip.

We set up camp by 11 AM Saturday morning, and my friend and I took off to Mt. Daniel. We followed the southeast ridge which comes right up to the Peggy’s Pond area and runs above the Hyas Creek Glacier.

Marked with cairns and multiple bootpaths, the path converged on a snow patches with old ice, remnants of a larger Hyas Creek Glacier. After crossing these patches of snow and ice, we rounded the saddle and crossed an exposed, slippery scree slope and then followed the easy bootpath and scramble to the summit at 7,960’. A marine layer was pushing at the crest, making for a dramatic cloud show. The barren ice and rock at the summit was beautiful and also indicative of the intense weather at that altitude.

Sunday was a day of rest, and then retreat back to the car. It was a great time in the mountains with friends, and an awesome summit of the highest peak in the Alpine Lakes wilderness.

Drew joined WWC in July of 2009 to provide telephone outreach to its members. He is a student at the University of Washington planning to double major in Community, Environment, and Planning (CEP) and Environmental Studies. Drew hopes to learn more about wilderness protection and environmental policy in Washington State. He has lived in the Seattle area all of his life, and enjoys being outside hiking, backpacking and snowshoeing with friends.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Adventure Report: Overnight in Brothers Wilderness

Posted by Michael Lanthier

Saturday, August 15, a venture to the Brothers Wilderness in the Eastern Olympic National Forest. The snow is gone and the streams are trickling through the old growth forests that lie just north of the popular Lower Lena Lake trail. Did you journey out to a trail this weekend? Tell us your stories and favorite adventures in Washington’s National Forests or share your photos at

After a week of much needed rain, many headed out under clearing skies to enjoy their national forests. I visited the Brothers Wilderness, which is reached by turning west on Forest Service Road 25 off of Hwy 101. The road follows the Hamma Hamma River, know for tasty Hamma Hamma oysters caught just beyond its mouth in the Hood Canal. For last minute snacks and simple supplies you can head to the Eldon Store just south of FS 25. To start the venture park at the Lena Lake parking lot, or if you like continue along a dirt road to find the Hamma Hamma Falls.

Though one of the most popular trails in the Olympics, traveling to Lower Lena Lake can be demanding. It travels up 1200 feet with a majority of the elevation gain coming along switchbacks at the beginning. The venture up this striking roadless area is well worth it. The 55 acre Lower Lena Lake is surrounded by beautiful scenery and plenty of spots for camping as well as fishing for Brook trout, rainbow trout, and cutthroat trout. Beware that you may find a lot of people there, but a bit more peace can be found by traveling further along the Upper Lena Lake Trail, which enters the Olympic National Park, or the Brothers Wilderness Trail which travels to the southern end of the Brothers Mountain Peaks.

Travel about a mile and a half to find great camping spots in the old growth forests of the Brothers Wilderness and prepare for an early morning to hike to the top of the Brothers for spectacular views. From here be sure to stay aware of where the trail goes because it can be easy to loose your way. After about another mile you’ll travel out of the forests and into an open meadow with a towering view of the peaks and a small cascading waterfall. You follow the trail around the west side of the peaks for a rugged climb up to the top. I unfortunately didn’t have the time to make it to the top but still received spectacular views across the Hood Canal and Kitsap Peninsula.

After you take in the spectacular views, its time to cruise back down the mountain for a burger at the Eagle Creek Saloon, off of N Eagle Creek Rd and just north of Lilliwaup. They have been serving delicious burgers about the size of the burger that rest a top their patio for about a year and a half. To our surprise, before reaching Hwy 101 for a burger, we lucked out to see a cougar cross the road and slip into the forest again (Thanks Whitney for your eagle eyes).

More on Brothers Wilderness

The Brothers Wilderness is located on the east side of Olympic National Forest, north of Lena Lake in Jefferson County. Except for a relatively gentle valley area in the East Fork of Lena Creek, the entire Wilderness is quite precipitous with tree covered slopes extending to about 5,000 feet. Elevation ranges from 699 feet near the Dosewallips River to the 6,866 foot summit of The Brothers. Other major peaks include Mt. Jupiter Ridge, and St. Peter's Dome. Read More.

Friday, August 14, 2009

In the News: New Direction for America's forests

Posted by: Amber Benson

Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack paid a visit to Seattle this morning. His purpose was to address, for the first time, the Obama administration's direction for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Forest Service. Two key leaders in Washington helped kick off the press event. Mary Wagner, Regional Director of the Forest Service, introduced Congressman Norm Dicks, thanking him for his creation of the "Legacy Roads and Trails Remediation Act". Congressman Dicks then introduced Secretary Vilsack, highlighting Vilsack's desire to increase funding for Legacy Roads to $100 million and pointing out the Forest Service's $300 million road maintenance backlog in Washington state.

Vilsack presented a new direction for America's forests which will be guided by three principles: conservation, management, and restoration.

"A healthy and prosperous America relies on the health of our natural resources, and particularly our forests," said Vilsack. He went on to discuss the many things threatening our forests, (climate change, wildfires, disease) and how the decline is having an impact on our water supply, communities, wildlife and more.

Vilsack said he no longer wants the Forest Service to be viewed as an agency only concerned with the fate of our National Forests. Instead, he wants there to be a shared vision, one which includes the protection and maintenance of all American forests, including state and private lands. "Our shared vision begins with restoration. Restoration means managing forest lands first and foremost to protect our water resources, while making our forests more resilient to climate change," said Vilsack.

The Secretary also said he believes the growing markets for carbon and sustainable bioenergy will give landowners more of an incentive to maintain and restore forests. He then called on the Forest Service to play a greater role in the development of those markets and ensuring their integrity.

As for the latest in the Roadless Rule, Vilsack reiterated an announcement made by the Justice Department yesterday, that the Obama administration will do whatever it takes to protect Roadless areas in America, even if it means creating a new rule making process.

More news from Komo News:

SEATTLE (AP) - U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Friday outlined a vision for managing the nation's forests that placed a high priority on restoration to protect water resources and combat climate change.

"Conserving our forests is not a luxury," but a necessity, the former Iowa governor said at Seward Park in Seattle in his first major address on the Forest Service. Continue Reading.

Read or hear the speech in its entirety.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Artwalk-August, Jon Cornforth

Posted by Michael Lanthier

Washington Wilderness Coalition is pleased to invite you to join us for the August, Greenwood-Phinney Artwalk, scheduled for Friday, August 14th from 6-9pm.

WWC will be open for guests to enjoy nature photography from local wildlife and nature photographers, including Jon Cornforth. We welcome you to join us for conversation, complimentary snacks and beverages and an opportunity to view inspiring art from the NW.

This month, we will feature guest work from Jon Cornforth, an award-winning nature photographer whose images have been recognized internationally for their masterful composition and incredible detail. Driven to express the beauty of the natural world, Jon travels over 6 months each year to challenge himself in new locations and document the unique creatures who live there. A resident of Seattle, all of Jon's images are captured in the wild.

For more information about Jon Cornforth-please visit his website:

We look forward to seeing you on Friday, August 14th for the Artwalk!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Doug Scott Opens WWC Speakers Series!

Posted by Amber Benson

For nearly 30 years, Washington Wilderness Coalition has worked hard to be an inclusive organization. Over the years, our hard work has paid off and we’ve developed a very diverse group of supporters. From our state’s backcountry hunters and anglers, to elected officials, and religious leaders, there is a broad range of conservation voices in WWC and we want to bring that perspective to you. That’s why we are launching our first ever Speakers Series.

Our first event will be held September 3, which also happens to be the 45th anniversary of the Wilderness Act. To mark this monumental event we invited none other than Doug Scott, Policy Director of the Campaign for America’s Wilderness. Doug helped shape strategy for and lead campaigns that resulted in Congressional legislation protecting scores of wilderness areas across the country. He will take all of that experience and knowledge and discuss the importance of the 45th anniversary in his talk, “The Wilderness Act and Washington State: A Perspective on the Act’s 45th Anniversary”.

He will also discuss the publication of his two books, the most recent Our Wilderness: America’s Common Ground (Fulcrum Publishing; May 2009) and The Enduring Wilderness: Protecting Our Natural Heritage through the Wilderness Act (Fulcrum Publishing, 2004).

Following the speaking event we would encourage you to join us in celebration of the anniversary with some light hors d’oeuvres, wine, beer and mingling.

Please RSVP to

WWC will be hosting this first of many free speaker's series this fall, with additional free events scheduled for 2010.

Special thanks to the Mountaineers Foundation for providing support to fund our Speakers Series.

Click here for a full list of scheduled speaking events in 2010.

Monday, August 10, 2009

In The News: Vancouver Columbian Editorial on Roadless

Posted by Michael Lanthier

In most of the country the Roadless Rule, which protected the country's last undeveloped, roadless national forestlands, is again the law of the land after a decision by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. A Vancouver Columbian Editorial demonstrates their support:

"Proud and rational Northwesterners of all political stripes share the love of the unspoiled outdoors. And all of them should rejoice at a recent federal appeals court decision in San Francisco that protects about 58 million acres of roadless areas in national forests in 38 states. A three-judge panel on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a misnamed "Roadless Rule" implemented by the Bush administration in 2005. Instead, most provisions of a 2001 declaration in the final days of the Clinton administration were restored."

In the News: Fate of Upper Stehekin Valley Road

Posted by Michael Lanthier

Portions of the Stehekin Road where destroyed in a 2003 flood, and since have created much controversy. The controversy continues with a bill to move the road into wilderness. Read more from Wenatchee World,

"U.S. Rep. Doc Hastings in June introduced a bill, HB 2806, that would allow the National Park Service to relocate a 2.5-mile section of the road. This section would cross into the wilderness area, and it requires an act of Congress to move the wilderness boundary, a move the National Park Service there doesn't want to see."

Thursday, August 6, 2009

In The News: Washington State leaders relish as court restores 'roadless rule'

Posted by Michael Lanthier

A federal appeals court on Wednesday reaffirmed a lower-court decision to reinstate the roadless rule. It was considered surprising news as the decision came from a panel of three judges who were appointed by Republican presidents.

Washington State leaders celebrate the court victory:

“This is a great victory for Washingtonians, who have long stood for the protection of our roadless areas,” said Gov. Chris Gregoire. “These special places provide clean water, fish and wildlife habitat, and priceless recreational opportunities for Washington families."

“Today’s victory is sweet for those of us who want to see our forests conserved for future generations,” said Attorney General Rob McKenna. “The conservation of natural resources is something that all state citizens strongly support. And that’s why we’ve made the legal defense of our environment a top priority.” (Washington State Attorney General Press Release)

Though good news, the Roadless Rule and the 58.5 million acres of roadless forests that the rule is meant to protect are yet to be safely protected:

Attorney Paul Turcke, who represents the BlueRibbon Coalition, an off-road vehicle group that intervened in the case, predicted that the roadless "saga will continue."

"I think it is unlikely this will end the litigation," he said. (From Los Angeles Times)

Do your part and encourage your Representative to push the Obama Administration to uphold the 2001 Roadless Rule for permanent protection or write to Senator Cantwell, a leader on the issue.

Read More: ‘Roadless Rule’ goes full circle

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Staff Thoughts: From Lake City to the Middle Fork River

Post by Amber Benson

The first weekend of August proved to be a very busy one for the staff and a dedicated volunteer at WWC. On Saturday we hosted a booth at Pioneer Days in Lake City, and on Sunday we headed to the Middle Fork River area.

Setup for Saturday was between 9:00 AM – 9:30 AM and we didn’t stop until just after 6:00 PM. Due to the long hours, our staff pulled together and rotated every 3 – 4 hours to keep faces fresh and avoid burnout. Traffic was slow in the morning as many people were probably still trying to get out the door. But by 11, things really started to pick up. People had a genuine interest in learning what we’re about and why it’s important to save our wilderness. We educated them on our efforts to expand the Alpine Lakes Wilderness and how we work hard to include and listen to groups that would not normally be considered our allies. It was a new event for WWC, and we enjoyed the opportunity to meet neighbors and residents in the Lake City neighborhood.

On Sunday some of the staff and a couple of volunteers got upearly and headed to the Middle Fork River area. The purpose was to shoot two interviews for a short video we plan to present at this year’s 30th Anniversary celebration in November.

Jon Owen, Deputy Campaigns Director for Campaign for America’s Wilderness, and Doug North, WWC Board Member and Treasurer, were the two subjects being interviewed. The shoot was educational for everyone; some learned the ins and outs of audio/video, while others had the opportunity to hear more about WWC and it’s 30 year history. You can see from the pictures that everyone had a role, whether it was waving flies off the photographer; holding a reflector, or simply observing! Thank you to all of our volunteers and staff that made this possible. We look forward to revealing the final product in November.

~Amber Benson
Outreach & Membership Coordinator