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August 2010

Conservation Connection August 2010

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In this issue:

  • Columbia Highlands launch
  • Meet Kit!
  • Update on Washington's wolves

Columbia Highlands Initiative

Russ Vaagen of Vaagen Brothers Lumber Company speaks at our press conference in Spokane.
Photo: Matt Cohen

The Columbia Highlands Initiative Goes Public

Conservation Northwest, along with timber mill owners, recreation business leaders, scientists and ranchers, held simultaneous press conferences last month in Seattle and Spokane to unveil the Columbia Highlands Initiative, an effort to maintain an important habitat connection between the Cascades and Rockies by protecting wild places and sustaining working ranches and jobs in the woods in the Columbia Highlands region of northeast Washington. The announcement garnered high-profile media attention on both sides of the state, including front page, above-the-fold stories in both The Seattle Times and The Spokesman Review.

You can learn more about the exciting new proposal, which includes over 215,000 acres of proposed wilderness and an additional 400,000 acres of restoration and conservation lands, by visiting our website or by attending one of the many grassroots kick-off events to be held around the state in September:
  • Seattle, Tues., Sept. 21st, Seattle grassroots kickoff for the Columbia Highlands Initiative. Learn how you can be a part of this exciting and innovative campaign! Pizza and beer will be served. Piecora’s Pizza, 6:00pm, RSVP to

  • Colville, Thurs., Sept. 23rd, a showing of the film about the Northeast Washington Forestry Coalition, From Controversy to Common Ground, at Colville Community College, 6:30pm, RSVP to

  • Republic, Fri., Sept. 24th, with special musical guest Dana Lyons, Parish Hall, 6:30pm, RSVP to
Over 70 people attended our grassroots campaign kickoff event on August 19th in Spokane and got a sneak preview of our new multi-media tour of the Columbia Highlands region. If you live in Spokane and would like to get involved in the effort, contact Crystal Gartner, Also be sure to stay up to date on the latest news and events about Columbia Highlands Wilderness on Facebook.

Kit McGurn

Kit McGurn is Conservation Northwest's new outreach associate and works out of our Seattle office.

Introducing Conservation Northwest’s New Western Washington Outreach Coordinator, Kit McGurn

Conservation Northwest is excited to announce that we have a new outreach associate in our Seattle office: Kit McGurn! You'll have a chance to meet Kit at our Grassroots Kickoff Party for the Columbia Highlands Initiative at Piecora's Pizza in Seattle on Tuesday, September 21st at 6:00pm or at the Conservation Northwest table at The Mountaineers' Outdoorsfest happening on September 18th at Magnuson Park. Stop by and say hello! This new position represents a renewed investment in engaging our Western Washington membership, so feel free to contact Kit with any thoughts or volunteer interests you might have! See below for his contact info.

A little background on Kit:

Originally from Pueblo, Colorado, Kit went to college at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, majoring in economics and environmental studies. After an 8 month solo backpack trip to South America, he went on to work for Greater Yellowstone Coalition in their Idaho field office, where he worked with a small coalition of groups to prevent the construction of a hydroelectric project on the Bear River in southeast Idaho, organized Idaho state residents to protect Idaho roadless areas, and performed policy analysis regarding the transfer of the Northern Rockies Wolf population to state management. Most recently he had been working as the Sierra Club's Arctic Conservation Organizer where he was engaging and activating the Sierra Club's national membership on oil and gas development issues and the effects of climate change in America's Arctic region.

He is very excited to refocus his conservation efforts on the Pacific Northwest - a place he now considers home. You can contact Kit with any thoughts, questions, and volunteer interests at:
(206) 675-9747 ext. 201
(206) 462-9252 cell




Playful pups in northeast Washington's Diamond Pack are protected again under the Endangered Species Act.
Photo: Washington DNR





Court Ruling Affects Wolves in Washington

A ruling by U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy earlier this month put northern Rockies' wolves back on the federal Endangered Species list, putting their management back in the hands of the US Fish and Wildlife Service. But many don’t realize that this decision not only affects wolves in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming, but also affects wolves in the eastern third of Washington and Oregon, which are included in the northern Rockies population.

In 2008, wolves returned on their own to Washington for the first time in decades. Currently, there are two confirmed wolf packs in the state, one in the North Cascades and one in the Selkirk Mountains of northeast Washington (this pack is part of the northern Rockies population), but many more breeding pairs are needed in order to ensure their long-term survival in the state. Wolf recovery in Washington has been tenuous with many wolves being either victims of poachers or car collisions. The most recent reports from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife indicate that the North Cascades pack's breeding female is missing and they fear she may have been killed.

The recent ruling is good news for Washington's few wolves because it means that there is a greater chance for recovery in our state (which is dependent on healthy populations in Idaho) and it will ensure that adequate state plans are in place before delisting can occur in the future.

In 2006, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife began to develop a plan for their wolf conservation and management. After many meetings and a long public process, the plan was put under scientific peer review. Multiple revisions have been made to the draft and a final plan will be presented to the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission in late 2010.

Conservation Northwest will keep you posted on opportunities to speak up for wolf recovery in Washington State. Contact Jasmine Minbashian,




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