Conservation Northwest’s Mitch Friedman wins Wilburforce Foundation 2022 Conservation Leadership Award

Conservation Northwest’s Mitch Friedman wins Wilburforce Foundation 2022 Conservation Leadership Award

Conservation Northwest / Nov 01, 2022 / News Releases

SEATTLE, Wash. —The Wilburforce Foundation announced today it is presenting one of four 2022 Conservation Leadership Awards (CLA) to Mitch Friedman, founder of Conservation Northwest, for his work connecting wildlands, protecting wild spaces and species, and partnering with Northwest tribes.

“Mitch has an incredible gift for identifying and fostering linkages,” said Paul Beaudet, executive director of the Wilburforce Foundation. “Sometimes that shows up as tying together wild spaces previously separated by development. Sometimes it’s about bringing ranchers together with conservationists, or creating partnerships that support Indigenous leadership.” 

Established in 2000, the Conservation Leadership Award recognizes groundbreaking leaders protecting wildlands and wildlife in North America. The CLA comes with a cash award for both the individual winner and the organization they represent.

Conservation Northwest’s current initiatives build on and deepen the work it’s been doing since Friedman founded CNW in 1989.

Mitch Friedman has been Conservation Northwest’s executive director since founding the organization in 1989.

The organization’s partnership with indigenous communities and governments stretches back more than two decades. In 2021, Conservation Northwest facilitated the return of more than 9,000 acres of land to its original stewards, the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation. CNW is currently finalizing another partnership to return 700 acres to the Colville Tribes to strengthen the wildlife corridor that connects the North Cascades Ecosystem with the Kettle River Range.

CNW is also working with partners on both sides of the border to prevent a potentially catastrophic disaster from failing dams full of toxic waste at the Copper Mountain mine in British Columbia.

Over the years, Friedman’s and CNW’s efforts have resulted in state and federal funding to build numerous wildlife crossings across Interstate 90. That success has led to new initiatives for crossings on I-5 to improve habitat connectivity from the Olympic Peninsula to the Cascade Mountains. The organization has also done significant work in carnivore restoration, bringing lynx back to northeastern Washington from B.C., successfully translocating fishers to the Cascades and the Olympic Peninsula and helping to restore wolf populations in Washington.

“I have worked with Mitch for more than two decades and have been repeatedly blown away by his strategic and effective approaches to conservation,” said Conservation Northwest Board Member Alexandra Loeb. “Over the years, he has assembled a fantastic team and continually adapted to changing times while remaining focused on the big goals and key constituencies.”


About Conservation Northwest

“Keeping the Northwest wild” since 1989, Conservation Northwest is a regional non-profit organization that protects, connects and restores wildlands and wildlife from the Washington Coast to the British Columbia Rockies. Staff operates in local communities and rural areas around Washington and into southern B.C., using dialogue to find common ground and collaborative solutions for challenging issues including habitat corridors, wilderness conservation, forest restoration and endangered species recovery. Conservation Northwest represents nearly 4,000 dues-paying members and more than eighteen thousand activists, supporters and online followers, with a main office in Seattle and field offices in Bellingham and Twisp.

About Wilburforce Foundation 

Wilburforce Foundation is a private philanthropic organization that supports land, water and wildlife conservation efforts in western North America. We invest in natural and social sciences to advance conservation, working with our grantees to defend and use policies that protect our natural world.




Media Contact: Andrea Wolf-Buck, Conservation Northwest Communications Director,, 206-970-1430

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