Connecting the Cascades to the Rocky Mountains with a wildlife corridor

Connecting the Cascades to the Rocky Mountains with a wildlife corridor

Conservation Northwest / Apr 07, 2020 / Cascades to Rockies, Connecting Habitat, North Cascades, Sagelands, Wilderness, Wildlife Crossings

Connecting the North Cascades and the Rocky Mountains through habitat corridors, wildlife crossings, forest restoration and wilderness protection.

By Chase Gunnell, Communications Directors

“As the climate changes, big landscape-level connections are essential. For nearly 20 years, we’ve been trying to bridge together the Cascades to the Rockies, to protect the habitat corridor,” – Mitch Friedman, our founder and Executive Director.

Biologists with the Washington Wildlife Habitat Connectivity Working Group have identified the Cascades to Rockies corridor as among the most critical in the Pacific Northwest, especially in the face of climate change, large wildfires and impacts from human development. This landscape and connections between the North Cascades and Rocky Mountains are vital for Canada lynx, wolverines, mule deer, wolves and other native wildlife.

Learn more in our new video, Cascades to Rockies Connections, or scroll down for a map!

Sunset from the Kettle Crest in Ferry County. The Kettle Range sits between the North Cascades and the Rocky Mountains, making it a critical stepping stone for wildlife. The Kettles are the southern tip of the Monashee Mountains, which extend south from the Canadian Rockies into northeast Washington state. Photo: Eric Zamora.

Stretching from the Cascade Mountains in north-central Washington through the Loomis State Forest, Okanogan Valley and Kettle River Mountain Range, to the Selkirk Mountains in the northeast corner of the state and into southern British Columbia, through multiple programs, we’re working to restore this critical corridor and connect our region’s largest wild areas.

We’re also working with local leaders like Bobby Whittaker of the Ferry County Rail Trail to support sustainable outdoor recreation and rural communities, and collaborating with stakeholder groups such as the Northeast Washington Forest Coalition.

Conservation Northwest operates multiple programs in the Cascades to Rockies corridor, including:

  • Our Sagelands Heritage Program and the Safe Passage Highway 97 project, championing wildlife crossings for mule deer and other species, habitat restoration, and grasslands protection in the transboundary Okanogan Valley.
  • The Working for Wildlife Initiative is a public-private partnership to recover native wildlife, restore habitat and preserve working lands in the Okanogan Valley and Kettle River Mountain Range.
  • The Columbia Highlands Initiative, an ongoing effort to permanently protect the wild crest of the Kettle Range and other backcountry Roadless Areas on the Colville National Forest in northeast Washington.
  • Our Forest Field Program operates on the Colville and Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forests as well as nearby state public lands, collaborating with local businesses, recreation leaders and elected officials for forest and watershed restoration. This includes our participation in the Northeast Washington Forest Coalition.
  • We are also leading efforts to permanently preserve private ranchlands in the Okanogan and Tunk valleys critical to the integrity of the Cascades to Rockies corridor, as well as coordinating with the Colville Confederated Tribes, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, and other partners to restore Canada lynx and sharp-tailed grouse.
  • And we support other wildlife restoration and coexistence efforts in the Cascades to Rockies landscape related to gray wolves, grizzly bears, mountain caribou and other species.
Map of the Cascades to Rockies corridor, summarizing data from the Washington Wildlife Habitat Connectivity Working Group. View this map as a larger PDF.
Wild roadless areas like Abercrombie Mountain and the Kettle Crest lack permanent protections in northeast Washington, and remain at risk of increased ogging and road-building. Photo: Eric Zamora


Stay tuned to our CASCADES TO ROCKIES WEBPAGE for more information on this critical wildlife corridor! Or visit our COLUMBIA HIGHLANDS WILDERNESS PAGE.