Introducing the Colville Wild campaign

Introducing the Colville Wild campaign

Conservation Northwest / Jun 10, 2020 / Columbia Highlands, Colville Wild, Protecting Wildlands

Working toward permanent protections for northeast Washington’s wildest roadless forests, particularly the crest of the Kettle Range

You may have heard of the Columbia Highlands Initiative, which we’ve recently rebooted as our Colville Wild campaign. You can also find more information here. THANK YOU to everyone who has followed this effort, some background on our new name is below!

With more than 220,000 acres of wilderness-quality lands, like the Abercrombie-Hooknose Roadless Area, the Colville National Forest should include more permanently-protected areas. Photo: Eric Zamora

The Columbia Highlands Initiative was an effort from 2008 through 2012 by Conservation Northwest, the Northeast Washington Forest Coalition (NEWFC), Kettle Range Conservation Group, The Lands Council, Vaagen Brothers Lumber and other local organizations, businesses and outdoor recreationists to protect the wild crest of the Kettle River Mountain Range, along with other Roadless Areas on northeast Washington’s Colville National Forest.

Local conservation and recreation leaders like Dick Slagle had long worked to preserve Washington’s “Last Frontier”, and the Columbia Highlands Initiative aimed to meet that goal through community dialogue and reasonable compromise. A collaborative agreement reached in 2010 sought to improve recreation access and increase responsible timber harvest on frontcountry areas of the Colville National Forest, while permanently protecting backcountry Roadless Areas as Wilderness; creating a win-win for conservation, wildlife, outdoor recreation and local businesses and economies.

Unfortunately, despite widespread support and longstanding collaboration between diverse interests through NEWFC along with elected representatives and the U.S. Forest Service, after a “sea change” in Congress and disagreement from some local leaders, this campaign was ultimately unsuccessful.

Check out our 2008-2012 video series on YouTube to learn more about the Columbia Highlands Initiative!

A map of Inventoried Roadless Area on the Colville National Forest in northeast Washingtons Columbia Highlands. Roadless protection is important for these wildlands, but it is not permenent like designated Wilderness or National Monuments or Recreation Areas. Map: Amelia Tiedamann.

Northeast Washington Forest Coalition and Colville Forest Plan

Since 2012, many of the participants in the Columbia Highlands Initiative and the NEWFC collaborative have been heavily involved in the update of the Colville National Forest’s 10-Year Forest Plan, which was finally released in 2018 and formalized in late 2019. Yet this plan currently includes far less recommended Wilderness and other critical forest and watershed protections that conservationists and outdoor recreationists called for.

Hikers enjoy a day on Abercrombie Mountain in a Colville National Forest Roadless Area. Photo: Craig Romano

As the new Colville Forest Plan is implemented, work continues for permanent protections for northeast Washington’s wildest areas, particularly the crest of the Kettle Range, Abercrombie Mountain, Salmo-Priest Addition, Hoodoo Canyon and other key Roadless Areas on the Colville National Forest.

We’ve re-envisioned this campaign as Colville Wild to highlight these amazing landscapes, and the pressing need to conserve them for future generations. We’ll also feature outdoor recreation opportunities and tips, as well as sharing local community stories and values⁠—all of which make up the rich human and natural heritage of northeast Washington. Stay tuned for more information over the coming months!

Learn more on our webpage, or follow us at Colville Wild on Facebook for updates
Sunset on the Kettle Crest in northeast Washington’s Colville National Forest. Photo: Eric Zamora