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August 2009

Conservation Connection August 2009

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In this issue:

  • Listening in
  • Wild Links for wildlife
  • Saving the prairie
  • Carousing with kits
  • The importance of being predator

Maria Cantwell and Cathy McMorris Rodgers

Sen. Cantwell and Rep. McMorris Rodgers listen as stakeholders describe ways to find balance on the Colville National Forest.
Photo: Steve Anthes



Breaking the Mold: Colville Collaboration


On August 14, Senator Maria Cantwell and Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers traveled to Spokane for a special listening session on Communities, Collaborations, and the Colville National Forest to hear about the exciting collaborative work of the Northeast Washington Forestry Coalition. Looking out over a sea of audience members wearing "Balance in the Forest" buttons was an impressive range of community representatives, including members of the Coalition. In the end, Sen. Cantwell declared that the management suggestions for the forest seem doable and she would work with Rep. McMorris Rodgers. Both agreed to explore legislative opportunities.

If that wasn't exciting enough, that same morning, Secretary of the Agriculture Tom Vilsack spoke in Seattle on a vision of ecological forestry for the US Forest Service to protect water and habitat, ready ecosystems for climate change, and store carbon. The Secretary called for this work to be accomplished through collaboration and singled out as a model the Coalition's work on the Colville National Forest. Conservation Northwest's mission and our plan to restore forests are being echoed at the highest level of government.




Wild Links

How do we think across borders, for wildlife and habitat? Looking out over the Similkameen Valley.
Photo: Bob Peart


Thinking Across Borders: Wild Links


Conservation Northwest's popular Wild Links conference on September 23-24, 2009, gathers experts and interested citizens to coordinate efforts and share ideas that keep our region's wildlife and habitat wild and connected. This year's Wild Links takes place in Osoyoos, British Columbia. Participants will "think across borders" to help US-Canada transboundary habitat and wildlife.

The opening night reception, with wine and hors d'oeuvres, is open to the public at Nk'Mip Resort and Cultural Center, and includes a welcome from the Osoyoos Band and guest speaker Gary Tabor from Center for Large Landscape Conservation. What could be better than spending a beautiful fall weekend in the Canadian Okanogan problem-solving for wildlife? Join us.




Taylor's checkerspot butterfly at Fort Lewis

The native prairie on and between Fort Lewis and McChord Airforce Base is a gem for wildlife. Here, two Taylor's checkerspots cavort.
Photo: Rod Gilbert/Ft. Lewis





Road to Extinction Gets a Sign


A Cross-Base Highway "ceremony" this month rang hollow when local equestrians and businesses, Conservation Northwest, Transportation Choices, Tahoma Audubon, and WA Native Plant Society showed up to remind decision makers of the native prairie lost should this freeway go through. The road will shatter habitat for wildlife here. The oak-woodland prairie, where wildflower fields frame a looming Mount Rainier, and western gray squirrels, Mazama pocket gophers, horned larks, Mardon skipper butterflies, and many other butterflies make their homes.

The highway is no done deal. The money spent to date on the Phase 1 connector road was all that the project had. There is no money to build the brand new lanes straight through the heart of one of the largest and last native Puget Sound prairies. Let this celebration be the last one for the Cross-Base Highway.




Pacific fisher kits

Volunteers head out in September to help document fisher kits just born in the wild. These kits were photographed at a release center in Oregon.
Photo: Cathy Raley/USFS




Hey, Where'd that Fisher Go?


This fall, Conservation Northwest's citizen monitoring volunteers, under the direction of biologists with Department of Fish and Wildlife, Olympic National Park, and Olympic National Forest, head into the field to monitor reintroduced Pacific fishers. Teams will place remote cameras where the radio telemetry tells us the fisher females are, to see if fisher kits are there as well.

Five years ago, Conservation Northwest had a dream to restore this cousin to the pine marten to Washington forests, raising important seed money for a feasibility and habitat study. The Olympic Peninsula proved to offer the best habitat for new fishers, and starting last year, fishers from BC were translocated into Olympics' old-growth forest. Some of those 50 adult fishers are now raising kits. These kits and fisher family life will be the subject of the remote cameras. We'll be sure to share those images as they come in.




Jay's sheep

How do we learn to live with predators? The film Lords of Nature helps answer this question at two September screenings in eastern Washington.
Photo: Jay Kehne



Lords of Nature Film Showing


"Can people and predators coexist? Can we afford not to?" A thoughtful new documentary film explores this question, as local ranchers and others in Okanogan and Pend Oreille counties are learning to live with wolves returning to Washington. "Lords of Nature: Life in a Land of Great Predators" goes behind the scenes with scientists exploring the role top predators play in restoring and maintaining ecosystems and biodiversity.

Make sure to join us for a public screening of "Lords of Nature," September 15 in Spokane and September 16 in Twisp. The film will be followed by a question and answer session with experts, including Defenders of Wildlife's Suzanne Stone, Idaho Wildlife Services' Rick Williamson, Idaho Fish & Game's Carter Niemeyer, and Okanogan District wildlife biologist Scott Fitkin.





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