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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Call to Action: Protect Our National Forests!

Posted by: Amber Benson

Recently, the green light was given to logging in Alaska’s Tongass Rainforest and now pristine national forests in other parts of the country could be in jeopardy. One of the key environmental policies that Barack Obama pledged to support as president is the Roadless Area Conservation Rule, which protects nearly 60 million acres of our last remaining undeveloped national forests from most road building, logging and other industrial activities.


But, backed by special interests, the State of Colorado is attempting to get out from under this popular policy and open up some of the best backcountry in the Rocky Mountains to new coal mines, methane wells and oil and gas drilling. As a result, Colorado's national forests could be become a magnet for development and pave the way for similar activity on pristine forestlands elsewhere in the country like Washington State.


We need your help. Please ask Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, who oversees the U.S. Forest Service, to reject Colorado's proposal and carry out President Obama's pledge to uphold the 2001 Roadless Area Conservation Rule as the best policy to protect our last national forests in every state. Protection for our roadless areas here in Washington State are only as strong as the national roadless rule.


Photo: Twin Sisters, Inventoried Roadless Area, by Eric Zamora, used with permission.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Staff Report: Happy Hour & Tilth Festival

Posted by: Amber Benson

September has proven to be anything but uneventful around the WWC offices. Last week we had two major events and a couple of training sessions for staff members. Our two events were Seattle Weekly's Happy Hour for Hope and the Wallingford Tilth Festival.

The Happy Hour for Hope was exciting because we were specifically chosen as the non-profit to benefit. It was held Wednesday evening at Del Rey in Belltown. How it works is, Seattle Weekly asks a beer distributor to chose a local non-profit of their choice. In our case, Oktoberfest Dundee chose us. The distributor then donates two kegs of beer to the organization and the organization then sells it to the host bar at cost. What a great idea!

As much as we would have liked to mingle with supporters and patrons of the event, we had to work. We were allowed to set up a table at the bar in order to educate people, answer questions and receive generous donations. Overall, people were extremely receptive to our cause and generous with their support.

I can't say enough nice things about the staff members of Seattle Weekly, the manager of Del Rey and, of course, the representative from Oktoberfest. They were a friendly, excited, professional group of people.

The Tilth Festival was held this last Saturday in the park area of the Good Shepherd Center. Vendors and visitors could not have asked for better weather. Blue skies, sunshine, and warm weather - the perfect combination for a lovely September afternoon. By mid-morning we had a steady stream of people, all curious about our mission, successes, and latest efforts. By the end of the day we had three people sign-up for memberships and dozens sign-up for email alerts.

Thanks to all the members who came out to Happy Hour and the Tilth Festival. We're working hard to keep you apprised and involved in the latest events at WWC. Stay tuned for an invitation to our Wilderness Visions annual dinner in November!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Adventure Report: Visiting the Noisy-Diobsud

Posted By: Beth Anderson, WWC Board Member
I spent the last weekend in August in one of the lesser-known wild areas in Washington state – the Noisy-Diobsud Wilderness. The Noisy-Diobsud became a designated wilderness as part of the Washington Wilderness Act of 1984 and the area currently consists of 14,133 acres of wild lands within the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.

After waking up to rain and clouds at our Seattle home, my husband and I picked up two friends and headed north via I-5, and eventually traveled east on Highway 20 to the Baker Lake Road, followed by nearly 8 miles on gravel to the Anderson-Watson Lakes trailhead.

As the trailhead neared the sun broke through the clouds, offering stunning views of Mount Baker even before the hike began. We started up the trail, the only maintained path into the
Noisy-Diobsud, which proceeds through lush forest for about one mile until breaking out into a lovely sloping meadow. There the spur to Anderson Butte (site of an long-since-demolished lookout) takes off to the left and the main trail ascends through the meadow.

Our hoped-for destination was a campsite on one of Watson Lakes, so we continued over the slight pass at the top of the meadow and down to the junction of the trails to Anderson and Watson Lakes. Anderson Lakes are accessed via the right fork, and that trail does not enter the designated wilderness.
Our group continued straight and entered the wilderness via the trail to Watson Lakes – the path switchbacks up and then back down into the Watson Lakes basin, reaching the first lake about a mile from the Anderson-Watson Lakes intersection. We followed an unmaintained trail around the first Watson Lake to the larger and slightly more spectacular second lake and found a campsite on a rocky outcrop along the shore.

We spent the rest of the afternoon admiring Mount Watson, climbing up a bit higher for views of Mount Shuksan, and enjoying the refreshing waters of Watson Lake. The following morning we took a bit more time to swim and eat berries from nearby bushes and then made our way back toward the trailhead. We dropped our overnight packs at the intersection for Anderson Butte and ate a late lunch on top of the butte (just inside the wilderness boundary), which provides incredible views of Mount Baker, Mount Shuksan, the Picket Range, and the beautiful green valleys in between.

This hike provides a great introduction to wilderness for younger folks or a relaxing weekend trip for anyone who enjoys high mountain lakes and expansive views.

For more information about the Noisy-Diobsud Wilderness, see the following link:

Further details about the Anderson-Watson Lakes trail (#611) and the Anderson Butte trail (#611.1) can be found on the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest site:

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Salesforce: WWC Embraces Change and Much Needed Updates!

Posted By: Lisa Syravong

Almost every nonprofit and small independent business has it—outdated office equipment, ancient computer software, technology that is older than 5 years (yet to the office seems new) and a lack of funding to address the age-old question: “Why are we still using this, and how do we move into the 21st Century”? Yes folks, it’s the 21st century, and I’m well aware 2009 is almost over…

Washington Wilderness Coalition is certainly no exception to having outdated equipment—we have dedicated staff, all working tirelessly with outdated computers, computer software and drum roll please….Filemaker Pro Ebase. Ebase is a program, where we track our members, activists, donors and their contact information by way of logging donations, adding new information, pulling donor contact information for phone lists, email lists and the occasional membership mailing. However, we are still operating Ebase under the same license that we were granted in the late 1990’s. Staff over the years was able to highly customize our version of Ebase to one where we can track various levels of donors, track how often they attend our events, sign campaign postcards, if they have indicated they are supportive of certain campaigns and not others, you get the picture.

The difficulty with using a highly customized version of Ebase is that only the basic template is able to be updated yearly, and with staff turnover over the years we are left with fewer and fewer people who are courageous enough to use the program, let alone be able to update or migrate to a new version.

Enter into the picture-the scheming and dreaming of staff for 2-3 years. IF we could find a program that we could use that would hold our immense level of data, and IF we could find a way to pay for the new software (our current license is free, as long as we can suffer through using it), and IF we could find a way to take our old data and transfer it into a new template and program-THEN we could actually have a program that all staff could use and easily!

Early in 2008-our Executive Director helped with finding a way, a new program called Salesforce was identified, costs were drawn estimated for what it would be to actually migrate our data and to set up the licensing, and it became an opportunity to ask for grant support from the community. For those of you who know little about grant writing, a capacity building grant is one where we ask for financial support and apply for a grant from a corporation, foundation or other business to underwrite a new program that allows us to expand our work. It is a way to ask for funding for a much needed project, one that the organization will be able to launch into using and be able to fund in a sustainable way for years to come-even after the grant funds are spent.

We approached the Boeing Company with the idea that if we could fund a consultant to migrate our data-we could apply for free licenses from Salesforce (which offers free licenses to nonprofit organizations) and to finally embrace a database program that would be easily to use, integrate with our email programs, and one that all staff would have access to for our various departments.

Thanks to the support of the Boeing Company we will very soon migrate our data to Salesforce. This summer, we have been working with our wonderful consultant from N-Power, one who is able to take our data from Ebase, and transfer it into a working template in Salesforce. The staff is still nervous, as we face a busy fall campaign season with events, community festivals and up to a week of training sessions for at least some of us. We also face a new opportunity to embrace change and to grow as an organization. Updating our software will allow us to contact you, our supporters, in much more relevant ways, and call upon volunteers who express particular interests, focusing on matching specific skills with jobs that are needed to effectively carry out wilderness preservation. In other words, staff will be able to operate more efficiently so that you can participate in protecting the wild lands and waters you love more.

In September or early October-we are planning on the completion of this project—more than 18 months in the making. We appreciate the opportunity and the support that have been given by the Boeing Company, as well as N-Power, both of which are making this project possible.