Over the course of a decade, the forested “Heart of the Cascades” region in Kittitas County has presented a rare opportunity to secure vital wildlife habitat and public access for hikers, campers, hunters and anglers – tourism that is a primary economic driver for the region.
“The wildlife values here were like nothing we’d ever seen on a landscape like this,” says Rance Block, retired Washington lands manager for the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.
The application for the fourth and final phase of the Heart of the Cascades project has now been submitted for funding from the state Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program (WWRP) grant program, which provides matching grants for key conservation projects throughout the state.
The project would complete the purchase of private “checkerboard” parcels on the east slope of the central Cascades between the Wenas and L.T. Murray Wildlife Areas. This last piece of the puzzle would protect 4,014 acres of critical migration corridors for elk, muledeer, bighorn sheep, salmon and steelhead, and ensure recreational access for all Washingtonians.
“A lot of businesses [in the area] provide a service for hunters, campers, fisherman,” explains George Michel, local business owner of MiDee Stitch Saddle & Tack Repair. “If we didn’t have the availability of public lands…those little businesses are going to die off.”
Even community members who may have never set foot in the area’s conifer forests would benefit from the clean, reliable water supply that this project would secure.
Half of the necessary $4 million in funding is now secured through a grant from the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), which reinvests royalties from offshore oil and gas drilling that occurs in public waters.
That’s a reason to celebrate, but there is still work left to do.
Washingtonians know outdoor recreation is good for our economy. Our outdoors generate $22.5 billion in spending each year and attract businesses because top employees desire the high quality of life our state has to offer.
But did you know that outdoor recreation can also be an essential tool for economic recovery? Join us this Saturday, September 13, and you can help communities affected by the SR 530 landslide earlier this year.
Here’s more information from Washington Bikes:
Completing the 27-mile Whitehorse Trail will connect Arlington and Darrington through the stunning Stillaguamish Valley and will tie into the Snohomish County Centennial Trail system. Activity to complete the Whitehorse Trail has gained traction in response to the SR 530 slide near Oso. As the residents of the Stillaguamish Valley seek to recover from the tragedy, completing the Whitehorse Trail serves as one economic redevelopment strategy to attract bike travel and tourism to the area.
Join us at the Fortson Mill Trailhead at 10:30 am on Saturday, September 13 to celebrate the partnerships, progress, and potential of the Whitehorse Trail for helping to redevelop the Stillaguamish Valley’s economy.We’ll be joined by elected officials and staff, as well as leaders from Darrington and Arlington to recognize the great work already accomplished and the task ahead.
This year, multiple projects are proposed along the Whitehorse Trail and local youth in Darrington need a place to skate. But these projects will only be funded if the legislature commits robust funding for the WWRP.
Join us with Washington Bikes this Saturday to enjoy the last days of summer and show support for these community-driven projects!
Senator Henry “Scoop” Jackson fishing with his son.
On September 3rd, America celebrates an important milestone: the 50th anniversary of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). For five decades, LWCF has protected places to camp, hike, hunt and fish — major economic drivers for rural and urban communities alike.
Washington’s congressional leaders have played a key role in the program’s history since the beginning. Few know that it was Washington Senator Henry “Scoop” Jackson who introduced the original Land and Water Conservation Fund Act to the Senate 50 years ago. Then, as now, the program received overwhelming bipartisan support, passing the House on a unanimous voice vote and the Senate 91-1, and was signed into law by President Johnson on September 3, 1964.
Now, the Act could expire without congressional action, meaning this critical tool could disappear forever — but you can help!
This year, LWCF funding needs include:
Protecting Cascade slopes along the Pacific Crest Trail,
Land along Lewis and Clark’s historic route along the Columbia River,
Renovating the fishing pier in Edmonds,
Investing in the Washougal economy through a waterfront trail, and many other community priorities across the state.
Last month, we introduced our interns helping contribute to our work on stewardship and the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund. Now, meet Rebecca Brunn, our development intern who has stepped in to coordinate many of the finer details for the Coalition’s annual breakfast.
Rebecca, a native of New York, graduated from Sarah Lawrence College with a degree in Liberal Arts. A former park ranger and AmeriCorps volunteer, she is thrilled to be combining her love of the outdoors with her experience in nonprofits here at the Coalition. Some of her favorite activities include snowboarding, long-distance swimming, playing ultimate frisbee, making stained glass windows and cheering for the New York Giants.
“I was drawn to the Coalition by the sheer dedication it has for preserving Washington’s natural spaces,” Rebecca says. “Preservation is ideally a collaborative effort, and engaging Washington’s hikers, boaters, kite flyers and bird watchers as an essential part of that effort is what sold me on the Coalition. I am excited to grow as both a nonprofit professional and an outdoors enthusiast with this great organization.”
Great to have you on the team, Rebecca! Be sure to say hi to our interns at the registration table at the Coalition’s breakfast on September 23.
Hunters planning their next expeditions might find that some of their favorite places are no longer available to them or are no longer affordable to visit.
In areas lacking access to public lands, many hunters and anglers rely on commercial forestlands so they can pursue their sports, but this becomes complicated when private landowners close popular spots or begin charging fees.
Private landowners have the right to put rules on their land, which is why programs like the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund and the state Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program are so essential to ensure public access for all.
These programs protect wildlife refuges, state and national forests, water access and more so every Washingtonian can continue to pursue these traditional pastimes.
If you’re looking for public land near you, try these resources:
Where is your favorite public place to hunt or fish? Email us your stories and photos so we can showcase them on our blog.
Photo by canopic.
It has been heartbreaking to see the images of fires disrupting communities in Eastern Washington. When they burn out of control, they can cause millions of dollars in property damage and displace people and wildlife, but fire can be a critical part of the life cycle of healthy natural landscapes.
We know it will take years for communities to recover, but we want to offer a little bit of hope this month to show how outdoors enthusiasts in our state are working to protect these special places and the people that rely on them.
In fact, they’re a necessary part of a healthy forest as long as we prevent them from getting out of control.
We can all help find funds for forest restoration efforts by supporting strong funding for the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program (WWRP). The Department of Fish and Wildlife has applied for WWRP funds this year for projects including controlled burnings, thinnings, and land purchases to help reduce fire risk and management costs.
In fact, the WWRP has an entire category devoted to maintaining our state lands against these devastating threats. Here are just a couple projects proposed this year:
We are very excited to introduce two new interns who are joining us this summer to unite voices around Washington State in support of our great outdoors!
Welcome to Stewardship Intern Sarah Geyer, and Federal Policy and Communications Intern Ethan Fetz!
Sarah is a Seattle local with a passion for conservation and sustainability. She is currently a senior at the University of Washington majoring in Environmental Studies and Biology with a focus on Ecology, Evolution, and Conservation. After graduation, she hopes to attend graduate school and eventually pursue a career in environmental policy.
During her internship, Sarah is assisting in the Coalition’s stewardship work by working with state agencies to help clarify the gaps and opportunities in state land stewardship. The goal is to eventually be able to develop solutions that can help address management challenges and help keep our outdoors great.