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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Roadless Rule Wins - Again!

Last October, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the national Roadless Area Conservation Rule. Last Friday, they did it again by denying a motion filed by the State of Wyoming and the Colorado Mining Association for a rehearing of the court’s October 2011 decision.
What a victory for Roadless areas! Here in Washington, this means virtually guaranteed protections for our 2 million plus acres of Roadless National Forests, the 9th largest Roadless acreage in the country. Washington’s Roadless areas provide clean drinking water, essential habitats for fish and wildlife, some of which are threatened or endangered, and scenic areas for hiking, camping, backpacking, kayaking, canoeing, fishing, and hunting.
For a bit of history on the Roadless rule…
In 2001, the Clinton Administration finalized the federal Roadless Rule, the purpose of which was to prevent new road construction and reconstruction of old roads within certain National Forest System lands. In all, the rule protects about 58.5 million acres or 1/3 of all National Forest System lands, which is only 2% of land in the continental U.S.
Roadless areas are characterized by certain features such as high quality soil, water and air; sources of public drinking water; diverse populations of plants and animals; habitat for all categories of species under the Endangered Species Act; recreation areas for hiking, camping, hunting, fishing, horseback riding and mountain biking; lands with traditional cultural properties; and other characteristics. 
A key group of supporters of the Roadless Rule included fiscal conservatives who saw the rule as a way to contain the growing backlog of maintenance (now in excess of $8 billion) needed for the bloated Forest Service road system. Nearly 400,000 miles of roads exist in our national forests which is two and a half times the size of the entire federal highway system. These old and decaying logging roads, for the most part, do not provide recreational access but do pose significant risks to our watersheds and fish populations. In the 1990’s, fiscal conservatives asked the question, “why would we put any new roads in the few areas of our national forest that do not have them, if we cannot pay for the roads we already have?”
Washington Wild has been a leader in the Roadless realm for the past decade, fighting to defend protections for Washington’s public lands, while still maintaining access for recreation and restoration. 
In 2004 and again in 2006, Washington Wild led the charge in Washington State to oppose efforts by the Bush Administration to weaken the 2001 Roadless Rule. Engaging other conservation and recreation organizations, religious groups, tribal leaders, sportsmen and other local stakeholders, Washington Wild gathered over 20,000 public comments in support of Roadless areas; canvassed door-to-door in Seattle, Tacoma and Olympia, urging citizens to attend public meetings; led a rally in downtown Seattle, which brought in media coverage from TV, radio and newspapers; and gathered support from elected officials. Whew! 
Last Friday’s decision from the 10th Circuit Court serves to further solidify the success of both of these campaigns in protecting Washington’s Roadless areas.
Check out our press release on the 10th Circuit Court’s latest decision, as well as our Roadless webpage for more information on the work that Washington Wild does to protect Washington’s Roadless areas.

Darcey Whitney is Washington Wild’s communication and marketing consultant. She recently moved to Seattle from Hawai΄i, and loves watching her dogs try to catch squirrels.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Washington Legislators Score Big on National Environmental Scorecard

Since 1970, the League of Conservation Voters (LCV) has annually published the National Environmental Scorecard, which rates how members of Congress voted on environmental issues in the past year. The Scorecard Advisory Committee consists of experts from 21 well-respected environmental and conservation organizations. The Committee chooses key environmental votes on which they believe members of Congress should be scored. These votes include environmental issues like energy, public lands, wildlife, environmental spending, and global warming.

The 2011 Scorecard was just released and the GREAT news is…

Washington is one of only 12 states whose Senators, Maria Cantwell (D) and Patty Murray (D), both had an environmental voting score of 100%! On the House side, Washington’s Congressman Jay Inslee (D-CD1) also scored 100%!

Others scoring high on their environmental votes were Congressman Norman Dicks (D-WA06) with a score of 97%, Congressman Jim McDermott (D-WA07) with a score of 94%, and both Congressmen Adam Smith (D-WA09) and Rick Larsen (D-WA02) scored 91%. Congressman David Reichert (R-WA08), who has been supportive of Washington Wild and sponsored legislation to designate additional wilderness and wild and scenic rivers in the Middle Fork Snoqualmie Valley earned a score of 43%.

For Washington’s remaining representatives in Congress, their environmental ratings showed room for improvement: Congresswoman Jamie Herrera Beutler (R-WA03) scored a 14%, while Congressman Doc Hastings (R-WA04) and Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA05) voted for the environment just 9% of the time.

Overall, LCV summarized their findings this way - in this most recent Scorecard, “…the U.S. House of Representatives unleashed a truly breathtaking and unprecedented assault on the environment and public health, the breadth and depth of which have made the current House of Representatives the most anti-environmental in our nation’s history.”

Fortunately for Washington, 7 of our 11 elected officials in Congress are voting for the environment. Washington Wild is committed to working with all of our elected officials in Congress in order to protect wilderness areas.

Feel free to let your Senator and Representative know you care about protecting the environment and think they should too! Exercise your democratic muscles and contact your Representative and Senator today to let them know what you think about their environmental vote score.

Darcey Whitney is Washington Wild’s communication and marketing consultant. She recently moved to Seattle from Hawai΄i, and loves watching her dogs try to catch squirrels.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Western Voters and Public Lands

Just last month, researchers at the Colorado College State of the Rockies Project released the results of the 2012 Conservation in the West Poll. 2400 voters from six western states (AZ, CO, MT, NM, UT, and WY) were surveyed about their beliefs on the environment, conservation, and the economy.

Here are some of the results:

Conservation & the Economy

Voters in these states indicated that conservation and the economy go hand-in-hand. According to the Colorado College press release, swing voters in these western states “nearly unanimously agree that public lands such as national parks, forests, monuments, and wildlife areas are ‘an essential part’ of the economies of these states.”

Conservation & Jobs

The poll results showed a strong link between conservation and jobs: 78% of voters in these six states said we can protect land and water and have a strong economy at the same time, and a whopping 85% of voters agreed that public lands are important to their state’s economy. These results include voters from across the political spectrum, from liberal to independent to conservative – even those who identify with the “Tea Party."

Conservation & State Funding

Voters in these states agreed that even with very tight state budgets, funding should be secured to protect the state’s land, water, and wildlife (86%), as well as state parks (85%). Specifically in Colorado, voters support keeping state lottery funds for conservation (76%), rather than re-allocating those funds to education (15%).

Environmental Regulations

According to the executive summary report of this poll, “Western voters are more likely to view environmental laws as important safeguards (63%) rather than burdens on business” (29%). The political divide on this particular issue was a bit more prominent, with 78% of Democrats and 64% of Independents agreeing that regulations are important safeguards, but among Republicans there was a greater divide: only 38% of “Tea Party” Republicans vs. 62% of non-“Tea Party” Republicans viewed regulations as important safeguards.

What About Washington?

While Arizona, Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming were the only states included in this poll, the results are still important for conservation in Washington. These results indicate a rejection of the idea that the environment must compete against the economy; that states must pick jobs over conservation, or vice versa. There was also strong support for public lands – an area of conservation directly related to the work done here at Washington Wild.

This bi-partisan poll shows that issues like conservation may, in fact, be a greater source of political connection rather than division for western states. Washington Wild has a great track record of working with bi-partisan support, most recently with Senator Parry Murray (D-WA) and Congressman Dave Reichert (R-WA08) who have co-sponsored a bill to add an additional 22,000 acres to the existing Alpine Lakes Wilderness area, as well as 40 total miles of Wild and Scenic Rivers on the Middle Fork Snoqualmie and Pratt Rivers.

The results of this poll give the staff here at Washington Wild hope that conservation issues may help to continue to bridge political divides. Also, knowing that a majority of western voters believe that providing funding and resources for conservation is not detrimental to our economy can be very useful in our current and upcoming wilderness campaigns.

Darcey Whitney is Washington Wild’s communication and marketing consultant. She recently moved to Seattle from Hawai΄i, and loves watching her dogs try to catch squirrels.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Cheers to Washington Wild's Volunteers!

In 2011, 70 volunteers contributed 1,738 hours of their time to Washington Wild! That is a HUGE contribution that deserves all of the gratitude and thanks this organization can muster.

Last Friday, February 3rd, Washington Wild hosted a volunteer appreciation party to celebrate the generosity and talents of our volunteers. About 30 volunteers attended the party at the Present Sense gallery in Fremont/Wallingford. We admired the nature photography on display by photographer Joey Pauley, enjoyed platefuls of delicious snacks (including beautiful fruits and vegetables from Socio’s in Pike Place Market), and sipped a great variety of beverages (courtesy of our bartender-for-the-night, Washington Wild’s Membership and Development Director, Kim Adank).

Ten lucky guests went home with door prizes, including several different books, reusable coffee mugs, and tickets to the Experience Music Project. Washington Wild left with a prize as well – our guests each decorated a rock (or several) to construct a glitzy little cairn (official definition: Cairn (n): a heap of stones set up as a landmark, monument, tombstone, etc.) to commemorate the occasion. It now stands, gloriously colorful and shiny, in our office window. Who doesn’t love a super-personalized souvenir?

If you attended the volunteer party and have any comments or feedback, please direct them to

Volunteer-related plans for 2012 include: trainings in May and June for anyone interested in any of the field-based opportunities, tabling, or learning more about Washington Wild; an abundance of summer outreach events; and more wild Newletter-Folding Parties! Tune in to the Volunteer and the Events sections of the Washington Wild website to learn more.

Thank You Volunteers!

Christine Scheele is Washington Wild's volunteer coordinator. When she is not wrangling volunteers, you can find her chasing her dogs up mountainsides. Interested in volunteering? Contact Christine at