North Cascades Grizzly Bears



North Cascades Grizzly Bears
Summer 2016 Issue 100
North Cascades
Grizzly Bears
It’s time to bring them home
Inside Conservation Northwest
Mitch Friedman Executive Director, [email protected]
Affiliation with the National Wildlife Federation
You may have heard the exciting news that we at Con-
servation Northwest have decided to affiliate with the National Wildlife Federation (NWF). This is a proud moment for us,
as NWF is America’s oldest and largest national conservation
organization. It’s also a proud moment for me, as I first joined
NWF as a member in my early teens.
We’re a great cultural fit, as CNW and NWF share a pragmatic approach to protecting landscapes and majestic wildlife.
NWF seeks to have an affiliate in every state of the nation.
Washington has been a gap in that list in recent years. It’s af-
firming that NWF thinks highly enough of our record and
focus to invite us to partner.
You shouldn’t expect any change in our mission, identity
or team as a result of this new partnership. Affiliation with
NWF doesn’t affect Conservation Northwest’s autonomous
legal, decision-making or financial status. But it does give us
access to a prominent national partner for policy, media, lobbying and other functions. In that way, you can expect we will
be even more effective in pursuing our objectives of a wild
Summer 2016 (August 2016) Issue 100
Main Offices
Chase Gunnell, Editor, [email protected]
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Cover: A grizzly bear in a mountain meadow, a sight that we hope will
soon return to the North Cascades. Once between 50,000 and 100,000
grizzly bears roamed the area of the lower 48 states from the Mississippi
River to the Pacific. Today, there are less than 2,000. And in the North
Cascades, fewer than ten. It’s the most at-risk bear population in North
America, but hope for their restoration remains strong. Photo: © Jason
Verschoor /
2 Summer 2016
Jeff Baierlein
Development and
Communications Director
Paul Bannick
Major Gifts Director
Natalie Doerr
Foundation Relations Manager
Jenni Minier
Grizzly Bear Outreach Coordinator
Pat Roberts
Fiscal Manager
Joe Scott
International Programs Director
Julia Spencer
Development and Membership
Paula Swedeen
Carnivore Policy Lead
Jen Watkins
Conservation Associate
Dave Werntz
Science and Conservation
George Wooten
Conservation Associate
Mitch Friedman
Executive Director
Board of Directors
Chase Gunnell
Deputy Communications Director
Bill Donnelly
Aleah Jaeger
Citizen Wildlife Monitoring Project
Coordinator and Membership
Lisa McShane
Vice President
Matt Johnson
IT Administrator
Bert Loosmore
Jay Kehne
Conservation Associate
Alaina Kowitz
Communications and Outreach
Dave Mann
Emily Barnett-Highleyman
Andy Held
Ron Judd
Juhi LaFuente
Membership Assistant
Alexandra Loeb
Tiana Luke
Northeast Washington
Conservation Associate
Floyd Rogers
Elise Lufkin
Heidi Wills
View from the Director
Mitch Friedman Executive Director,
[email protected]
View from the Director
Time to restore the North
Cascades grizzly
Grizzly bear cubs. It’s time to bring them back to the
North Cascades. Photo: © TDImage/
Table of contents
4 Restoring
grizzly bears
Update on North Cascades EIS
5 Friends
of the North Cascades Grizzly
Our new coalition to show support
6 Just
right for grizzlies
Why the North Cascades are great habitat
8 Living
with grizzly bears
Coexisting successfully in bear country
9 Searching
for ghost bears
Monitoring for North Cascades grizzlies
Northeast Washington wilderness
Opportunity to protect the Columbia
12 Best
Northwest wildlife hikes
Catch a glimpse or experience their home
Meet our Board: Bert Loosmore
Get to know our newest Board member
15 Conservation
Show your support with stickers, hoodies,
and more
Keeping the Northwest wild
I often hear people suggest that the North Cascades can receive migrating
grizzly bears from the wilds of British Columbia. Sadly, that isn’t the case.
As proud as I am to observe that, even as the human population has boomed here
over the past couple decades, our region has been getting wilder by most measures,
grizzly bears are a big exception to that trend. Yes, we’ve gained protection for old
forests, roadless areas and a number of key habitat linkages. And yes, fishers, wolverines and wolves have returned. But grizzly bears have declined over this same period.
This is humbling and confounding. I founded Conservation Northwest in 1989
in part to champion grizzlies and their habitat in the North Cascades. A grizzly
was on our original logo. At that time there probably were a couple dozen grizz in
this border-spanning ecosystem, and sightings were somewhat more common. We
gained a government commitment to bear recovery in 1993, a commitment that
protected habitat and promoted backcountry behaviors like clean camps and bear
awareness to help these threatened wild icons. But while we knew then as now that
the small grizzly population couldn’t survive without the addition of a few bears
from elsewhere to boost the gene pool, for over 20 years we’ve been unable to move
the U.S. government to take that action. And slowly the grizzly population dwindled to its present, paltry condition. The latest agency estimates suggest fewer than
ten animals. That’s a generous figure. By any measure, it is likely the most at-risk bear
population in North America.
If bears could migrate to the Cascades from Canadian populations, they would
have been doing so. But the sad fact is that grizzly bear populations across southwest
B.C. are themselves too small and struggling to produce bears motivated enough to
decamp for here. And any bear that might do so would face challenges in getting
from there to here, including crossing the heavily trafficked Fraser River Valley.
So it falls on us to move some bears to the Cascades. It also falls on us to help
recover those other bear populations in the B.C. Coast and Chilcotin ranges, and to
gain habitat protections and access (road) management policies that will allow future bears to safely move between subpopulations, bringing genetic vigor and hope
with them.
I am deeply heartened that the National Park Service and other agencies are now
working hard studying options for restoring a healthy population of grizzly bears in
the North Cascades. And I’m proud and energized by the work we’re doing with
Canadian First Nations and conservation partners through the Coast to Cascades
Grizzly Bear Initiative to recover and link grizzly populations across our region.
The North Cascades is the only place in the Lower 48 where we stand much
chance of having grizzly bears outside of the Rocky Mountains. At nearly 10,000
square miles, it’s one of the largest contiguous areas of wild public land in the American West. We’ve demonstrated that we can make nature healthier and wilder in the
Northwest. My goal is that just five years from now, the return of grizzly bears will
have expanded our list of positively wild trends in our great region.
Summer 2016 3
bears updates
Joe Scott International Conservation Director,
[email protected]
long road to restoration
What’s next for
North Cascades
A grizzly bear takes a dip in Chilko Lake, British Columbia, while
searching for sockeye salmon. Photo: Jeremy Williams
Grizzly bear recovery is nothing if not process. For the
Cascades that process already spans two and a half decades. It
goes back to 1975 if you count other areas where the U.S. Fish
and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has been working to restore
grizzlies to a small portion of their former range.
The effort to restore grizzlies to the North Cascades began
in 1986 when habitat biologists undertook a six year study to
determine whether a roughly three million acre, 10,000 square
mile area of contiguous park, wilderness and national forests
The North Cascades is one of five recovery
zones representing the last strongholds of
an iconic animal that once lived virtually
everywhere west of the Mississippi.
could support a viable grizzly bear population. The study led
to the designation of the North Cascades as a “Grizzly Bear
Recovery Zone” in 1991 alongside four others in Montana,
Wyoming and Idaho.
Together these five recovery zones would represent the last
strongholds of an iconic animal that had once lived virtually
everywhere west of the Mississippi, from plains to mountains
to sea, in the tens of thousands.
In 1997 the USFWS approved the North Cascades “Recovery Plan” which recommended preliminary actions for recovery. But it did not mandate or set in motion a full range of
recovery actions. It did create a subcommittee of government
agency reps with direction to manage the recovery zone for
grizzly bear conservation.
4 Summer 2016
The 1997 plan recommended one critical action that
wouldn’t get underway for another 18 years—initiation of an
Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) that would engage the
public in possible recovery strategies, including proposals for
bear transplants. It had become obvious to wildlife biologists
that North Cascades grizzlies wouldn’t recover without help.
We are now one year into the three year EIS. The first or
“scoping” phase completed last year included six public meetings in communities around the recovery zone and a 60-day
public comment period. During this period, strong support
for grizzly bear restoration was demonstrated by Conservation Northwest and Washingtonians from around our state.
In fall 2016 wildlife officials are expected to release a Draft
Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) that will propose a
range of grizzly recovery alternatives. We hope the preferred
strategy will include the transplant of bears into this ecosystem, something science shows is required for the population
to gain a foothold towards recovery.
The next few months will likely determine whether our
children and grandchildren will ever see grizzly bears in the
North Cascades in their lifetimes. Restoring grizzly bears will
not be easy; it will take time and patience. And it will only
work with the support of local communities.
Grizzly bears are a vital part of our region’s ecosystems and
thus of our natural heritage. They’re a yardstick to gauge the
health of our wild places. They’ve lived in the North Cascades
for tens of thousands of years. Now it’s up to all of us to build
support for restoring them before it’s too late. For a wild future that includes grizzly bears, please make sure your voice is
heard loud and clear on this issue.
Restoring grizzly bears
Jenni Minier Grizzly Bear Outreach
Coordinator, [email protected]
Friends of the North Cascades Grizzly
Coalition supports return
of the great bear
In early June, conservation organizations, local businesses, Native American
tribes, and a growing roster of rural and
urban residents announced their support for restoring a healthy population
of grizzly bears to the North Cascades
through the Friends of the North Cascades Grizzly Bear coalition. More than
two dozen supporting organizations
and businesses and well over 1,000 supporting individuals have already signed
on as Friends of the North Cascades
Grizzly Bear!
Steering Committee organizations
for this collaborative effort include
Conservation Northwest, the National
Parks Conservation Association, Woodland Park Zoo, Defenders of Wildlife,
Northwest Trek Wildlife Park, and the
National Wildlife Federation. Supportive resolutions, testimonials, frequently
asked questions, resources and helpful
links, bear safety information, and more
are available at
In June 2015, the federal agencies
released a summary report of the approximately 3,000 public comments
submitted during the Environmental
Impact Statement scoping period held
in early 2015. Of those who submitted
comments in support of or opposition
to grizzly bear restoration during that
period, comments from grizzly bear restoration supporters outnumbered those
from opponents by over five to one.
The Friends of the North Cascades
Grizzly Bear coalition is working to advance and publicize this widespread local,
regional and national backing for restoring a healthy population of grizzly bears to
their native home in the North Cascades
throughout the multi-year EIS process.
If the North Cascades grizzly population is successfully restored, the region
will once again have functioning populations of all iconic wildlife species that
were present prior to the turn of the
19th century. That is a momentous conservation achievement, possible in very
few places in the continental United
States, and one that Washington state,
and the nation, can be proud of. We’re
working hard to make it a reality.
Join the Friends
Joining the Friends of the
North Cascades Grizzly Bear means
you support restoring a healthy
population of grizzly bears to the
North Cascades, their home for
thousands of years. Wherever grizzlies thrive, so does wildness, clean
water and abundant native fish and
We support recovering the North
Cascades grizzly bear population
through best available science and
community involvement because
it will help keep the Northwest a
natural, beautiful and sustainable
place to live, work and play. Visit
our website, northcascadesgrizzly.
org, to learn more and to join our
new coalition as a supporting individual or to sign up as a supporting
organization or business!
Meet Jenni
Jenni Minier moved to Belling-
ham because of its proximity to wild
places. An avid skier and mountaineer, she and her husband John started Mount Baker Mountain Guides to
share those wild places with others,
responsibly and sustainably. Now,
as our Grizzly Bear Outreach Coordinator, Jenni works with Conservation Northwest to make sure that
the “wild” in wilderness is there for
generations to come. Why work for
grizzlies? Jenni believes grizzlies are
a true symbol of what’s wild. If grizzlies are on the landscape, some
piece of wildness remains intact for
all other wildlife and for people, too.
Jenni Minier. Photo: John Minier
Make your voice heard
Upon release of the DEIS in fall 2016, federal officials will host public “open houses”
as well as an online public comment period on grizzly bear restoration. It’s critical that
we show continued public support during this period. Become a Friend of the North Cascades Grizzly Bear to show your support and receive notifications about how to comment!
Keeping the Northwest wild
2016 5 2016 5
bears updates
Chase Gunnell Deputy Communications Director,
Grizzly bear habitat
[email protected]
The North Cascades: Just right for
One of the most common questions we get about
grizzly bears is whether the North Cascades has the right
habitat and food for them. Conservation Northwest reached
out to Bill Gaines, Ph.D., bear ecologist and director of the
Washington Conservation Science Institute, for his take on
why the North Cascades is, as in the Goldilocks tale, “just
right” for grizzlies.
What was the historical presence of grizzly bears in the
North Cascades?
We know from trapping records kept by the Hudson’s Bay
Company from forts that were in and around the North Cascades that grizzly bears were present. For example, between the
years of 1827 to 1859, Hudson’s Bay Company records show
that 3,788 grizzly bear hides were shipped from three forts
in or near the North Cascades. Likely not all of these came
from the North Cascades but this probably had a considerable
impact on the grizzly bear population in the North Cascades.
Additional information is available from historical accounts
of government trappers, hunters, and explorers. For example,
while surveying the U.S.–Canada border in the 1850s, Custer
documented observations of several grizzly bears above the
North Fork of the Nooksack River. Other grizzly bears were
killed or trapped such as the grizzly bear killed by government
trapper Pete Peterson in the 1920s near Mazama. In 1967
the last legally killed grizzly bear was taken from an area near
Washington Pass (grizzly bears were listed in 1973). Collectively, this information suggests that there once was a relatively
large population of grizzly bears that occurred throughout the
North Cascades.
When people think about grizzly food, they often think
elk calves or salmon. But I understand that in areas like the
North Cascades and Yellowstone, the average grizzly diet
is mostly vegetation. What types of plants are found in the
North Cascades that would make up a grizzly’s diet?
Yes, bear diets can vary quite a bit by season and on the ecosystem they live in. But generally 75-85% of their annual diet
is composed of vegetation. When we were evaluating potential food sources for bears in the North Cascades, we looked at
the available research on bear diets and developed a list of 124
plant species they feed on. We then compared that list to the
data we collected on plants in the North Cascades based on
1,726 vegetation plots. We found that 100 of the 124 species
of plants that are bear foods occur in the North Cascades. In
fact, when compared to some of the other ecosystems where
bears live, we have a wide diversity and abundance of plants
for bears to eat. Some of the really important plants will be
The avalanche chutes, alpine meadows and subalpine forests of
areas like the Glacier Peak Wilderness provide prime grizzly bear
habitat. Photo: Chase Gunnell
“The combination of really high quality
habitats in really remote areas makes
the North Cascades relatively unique
in the lower 48 states and is a primary
reason that grizzly bear recovery is being
pursued here.” –Bill Gaines, Washington
Conservation Science Institute
6 Summer 2016
Restoring grizzly bears
North Cascades Ecosystem
Cle Elum
The area within the black boundary is the North CascadesI-90
Grizzly bear Recovery Zone, covering nearly
10,000 square miles of mostly national park and national forest lands in Washington, as well as
Legend wildlands in British Columbia. Map: National Park Service, USFWS
! Cities
Major Interstates and Highways
North Cascades Ecosystem
Protected Areas (British Columbia)
Land Ownership
berry producing shrubs, such
as huckleberries
US Bureau
of Land Management (of
US Fishin
Service Caswhich there are seven species
US Forest Service
cades), salmonberry, red US
National Park Service
State Lands
bitter cherry, and many more.
We also found that 0
some habitats were especially rich in bear foods,
such as lush wet meadows or avalanche chutes,
both of which are plentiful in the North Cascades.
What about insects? Would they be a large
part of a grizzly bear’s diet here, and if so what
types of insects?
Typically insects are not a large part of a bear’s
overall diet, though they may be of local or seasonal importance. We have documented insects
in the diets of black bears in the North Cascades,
especially ants. In other ecosystems, army cutworm
moths can be an important food source. We have
done some limited surveys for army cutworm
moths in the North Cascades and found a few sites
where they are concentrated. However, without
local research on grizzly bear diets, we don’t really
know how important these moths may be.
Keeping the Northwest wild
The North Cascades has an amazing
diversity of wildlands, from rugged
pine basins
of habitat
would a grizzly
be expected to use each season in the
North Cascades?
Typically, grizzly bears den at higher
elevations where snow cover is substantial. They might be expected to leave
their den between mid-March and midApril, and move down to lower elevations that are snow free. This is the time
of year they might feed on winter-killed
deer and elk or take an occasional fawn
or elk calf. So, for a time in the spring
they are down in some relatively low
country, and on the east side this is relatively dry country. As spring progresses
into early summer we’d expect bears
to move into higher elevations, taking
advantage of roots, tubers, and plants
that are growing after the snow recedes.
Plants such as spring beauties and avalanche lilies. By midsummer, some of
the early shrub fruits will start to come
on, such as service berry, mountain ash,
elderberry, and others. As summer progresses, more of the shrub fruits come
on and we’d expect grizzly bears to move
into the high elevations to feed in those
high-elevation huckleberry meadows.
They’d likely stay in these areas late into
the summer and fall for as long as the
berries are available. Some bears may
move down to lower elevations to take
advantage of fall salmon runs. Fall is
an important time for bears as they are
putting on weight in the form of fat to
get through the long winter denning period. They need places with concentrated food resources and they may forage
throughout the day and night to get the
needed calories.
Generally, the moister productive
habitats that occur on or near the crest
of the North Cascades are the most productive and likely to be highly used by
grizzly bears. Fortunately, we have an
abundance of these habitats, and many
occur in national park and wilderness
areas where bears can also find places
away from roads, campgrounds, and
urban areas. That combination of really
high quality habitats in really remote areas makes the North Cascades relatively
unique in the lower 48 states and is a primary reason that grizzly bear recovery is
being pursued here.
Is there anything else people
should know about why the North
Cascades are high-quality grizzly
The diversity of elevation zones and
moisture gradient work together to create a wide diversity of vegetation types
and habitats. For example, the North
Cascades National Park contains 1,630
vascular plants species, the most of any
park in the national park system! It is
this diversity that creates such amazing
habitats for bears and other wildlife. In
addition, the abundance of wild areas,
really rugged and remote, provide the
opportunity for bears to find really good
habitats and be in places that limit their
exposure to people.
Summer 2016 7
with grizzly
bears updates
Alaina Kowitz Communications and
Outreach Associate, [email protected]
Bear Awareness 101
What you need to
know in bear country
Recreating in bear country should rarely create con- Black bear or grizzly?
flicts between humans and bruins when proper precautions
are taken. By knowing how to avoid conflicts and defuse encounters with bears, you not only keep yourself safe but also
teach bears to be wary of people. Here are some important
things to keep in mind the next time you’re out adventuring:
• Before you hit the trail, research trip reports or check in
with a forest ranger or Fish and Wildlife official for the most
recent news on bear activity in the area.
• Carry bear spray in an accessible spot, and know how to
use it! Bear spray is proven to be more effective than firearms
at stopping bear charges.
• Avoid packing odorous foods or scented toiletries, and be
sure to bring the proper storage equipment in order to hang
your food—100 feet of rope, air-tight storage bags, and carabiners are recommended. Hang your food from a high branch
at least 100 yards from your camp, and cook your food the
same distance away from your tent.
• If you can’t hang your food, buy or rent a bear-resistant
container. National Park ranger stations often rent them, as
do some Forest Service offices and outdoor gear stores. These
containers have been bear-tested and are approved for use by
the International Grizzly Bear Committee.
• Whether you’re hiking, hunting, or fishing, it’s best to do so
in groups. Maintain some level of noise by talking or singing, especially in sight-restricted areas like dense timber or tight corners.
Mountain guide Jenni Minier says, “The human voice is the most
effective noise you can make. Bears don’t want to be surprised by
a human any more than we want to be surprised by a bear.”
Washington state is home to over
25,000 black bears and about 40-50 grizzly
bears in the Selkirks, with some individual
grizzlies in the North Cascades. It’s important to know the differences between the
two bear species.
Color is not a good indicator, for example. Black bears range from black to brown to
blonde, and grizzly bears can be a very dark
brown that’s nearly black. The best indicators
between black and grizzly bears are these:
• Shoulder hump: Grizzlies have a large
muscular hump between their shoulders.
• Face and ears: Grizzlies have a dished
snout and small, round ears, while black
bears have straight noses and upright ears.
• Claws: Grizzly bears have long claws
(about 3-4 inches long), used for digging.
Black bears have short, 1-2 inch-long claws.
For more information on recreating safely in bear country, using bear-resistant
containers, and how to use bear spray,
A Park Service ranger conducting a bear spray demonstration. Photo courtesy: NPS Diane Renkin
8 Summer 2016
“The most important tools for staying safe
in grizzly bear country are knowledge
and awareness. Understanding how
bears perceive the world and our actions
can help us anticipate where and when
conflicts might arise, de-escalate them
when they do, and develop a greater
appreciation for the beauty of these
complex creatures we share the world
with.” –David Moskowitz, biologist and
wildlife tracker
Monitoring for grizzly bears
Aleah Jaeger Citizen Wildlife Monitoring
Project Coordinator, [email protected]
Grizzly bear search
Conservation Northwest began monitoring for grizzly
bears in the North Cascades decades ago, placing film cameras
out in grizzly habitat and hooking them up to sensors. This
effort was less standardized than our current Citizen Wildlife
Monitoring Project, but the ultimate goal was the same: to
document grizzlies in the North Cascades, and in so doing, to
add momentum to plans for grizzly bear restoration.
The Citizen Wildlife Monitoring Project (CWMP) has
been sending volunteers into the North Cascades of both
Washington and British Columbia in search of wildlife, for
almost two decades, and for grizzly bears specifically, since
2008. By 2008, the remote cameras being deployed were digital, easier to use, and more efficient, much to the joy of everyone involved in the project. Protocol for grizzly bear monitoring has varied slightly from year to year, and beginning in
2014, our CWMP began to work in coordination with the
Cascades Carnivore Connectivity Project (CCCP).
Working closely with biologists who lead the CCCP, our
CWMP now follows strict protocol when determining where
and how to set up grizzly monitoring sites. Teams of volunteers are assigned to survey hexagons specified in the CCCP
protocol, many located in some of the most beautiful and
remote parts of Washington. Installing and checking grizzly monitoring sites requires an overnight backpacking trip,
bushwhacking, strenuous hiking, excellent navigational skills,
and very stinky scent attractant (“grizzly goo,” a mixture of fermented cow blood and dead fish). Teams scout extensively to
find the perfect location for their monitoring site, construct
a pile of woody debris, pour the scent attractant over it, and
set a camera aimed to capture photos of curious bears as they
come to investigate.
In 2016, we are sending two teams of volunteers into some
of the most isolated terrain in the North Cascades. Snow has
prevented our teams from installing their cameras before July.
Each team will set up a camera monitoring site, check the images on the camera after a month, uninstall that site, and then
install a new site in a second, designated hexagon.
We are thrilled to begin yet another season monitoring for
grizzly bears in the North Cascades. And we’re hopeful that
someday soon our volunteers will document one of the last
“ghost bears” of this wild place!
Top: One of our wildlife monitoring volunteers hangs a remote
camera. Bottom: A young black bear photographed at a North
Cascades grizzly bear camera site. Photos: CWMP
Keeping the Northwest wild
Summer 2016 9
Northeast Washington wilderness
Alaina Kowitz Communications and Outreach Associate,
Columbia Highlands Initiative
[email protected]
The case for wilderness in northeast
On a nice day, stand on top of
Queen Anne Hill in Seattle and you
have the extraordinary privilege of being
able to see two mountain ranges. Look
west to the Olympics rising from the
Peninsula, blue and snow-topped. Turn
east and the crags of the Cascades glimmer in the distance. It’s truly an amazing
thing, to be in a major city and be surrounded by breath-taking mountains.
I feel lucky whenever I’m walking home from work at Conservation
Northwest’s Seattle office and I catch
glimpses of these peaks. But I’m also
often reminded of other mountains that
I’ve known, tucked away in the northeast corner of Washington.
These mountains, known as the
Columbia Highlands, don’t boast the
same kind of rugged splendor that their
10 Summer 2016
counterparts to the west do. But there’s
a quieter kind of beauty there, and just
as much wildness. I had the fortune to
grow up on the roots of the Kettle River
Range and spent my childhood and adolescence swimming in mountain lakes,
hiking the Kettle Crest Trail, and bushwhacking in search of rare plants for the
Forest Service. It doesn’t matter if you’re
a skier, a farmer, a birdwatcher, or an
ORV rider—no matter your activity or
livelihood, life in northeast Washington
is surrounded by and celebrated because
of the natural world.
The Columbia Highlands sit at the
foot of the Rockies and are comprised
of the Kettle River Range and the Selkirk Mountains. These two ranges are
separated by the Columbia River, but
together they make a landscape unique
to northeast Washington. In the Kettles, Sherman Pass is the go-to destination for hikers, bikers, and skiers. The
trailhead at the top of the pass puts you
on the Kettle Crest Trail, which switchbacks up to Snow Peak. The trail along
the wild Kettle Crest leads you through
an amazing display of toothpick snags
left in the wake of a forest fire in the
1980s, and rocky outcroppings are
adorned with penstemon and larkspur.
My friend, mountain biking near Sherman Pass, swears he glimpsed a wolf on
this trail. I’m inclined to believe him.
Both the Kettles and the Selkirks are
prime gray wolf and Canada lynx habitat, two endangered species with shrinking ranges in the Pacific Northwest.
East of the Columbia River, the Selkirks provide more drama, specifically
with Abercrombie and Gypsy Peaks.
These are the two highest spots in the
Columbia Highlands and some of the
most unique landscapes I’ve seen. The
Abercrombie Mountain Trail takes
hikers to an open ridge, where the subalpine forest ends and is replaced by
scattered huge, gnarled snags. Shale
overtakes wildflowers, and the trail leads
to a rocky, 360-degree view at the top.
It’s hard to know where to look first. To
the west, the Kettles roll by; to the east,
the Salmo-Priest Wilderness beckons
(home to wolverines, mountain caribou
and the only functioning population of
grizzly bears in the state). You can peek
into Canada in the north and on a good
day, the Columbia Plateau is visible in
the south.
The close proximity of wildness defines the people who live here. I’ve heard
(and shared) many a conversation at the
local brewery or grocery store revolving
around cross-country skiing conditions
on Sherman Pass, the latest
Northeast Washington wilderness
Protecting the core
For over a decade we’ve worked to
permanently protect the wildlands of the Columbia Highlands. This region is especially
important because it connects the Cascades
and the Rockies for animals on the move,
like Canada lynx. Hikers, skiers, hunters,
and others also find splendor and solitude
here, providing important economic benefits for local communities.
Now there’s a new opportunity to designate much needed wilderness in northeast
Washington, including on the wild Kettle
Crest at the core of the Columbia Highlands.
The Colville National Forest recently took
comments on proposals for its Land and Resource Management Plan Revision. We’re
urging the Forest to recommend wilderness
designation for these roadless areas: Profanity, Bald Snow, Hoodoo, AbercrombieHooknose, Salmo-Priest Adjacent, Thirteenmile, and Quartzite. Along with the plan’s
other provisions, these designations offer
the right balance of conservation, recreation, forestry and other forest uses.
We’re also urging Senator Maria Cantwell
to champion permanent protections for this
special corner of our state. Now is the time
to protect northeast Washington wilderness
for future generations of people and wildlife. Stay tuned for updates as this effort
Keeping the Northwest wild
picking expedition, or what wildlife was
spotted that day. (Most exciting: black
bears and moose. Not worth mentioning: white-tailed deer.) Hikes with my
dad almost always turn into wildflower
hunts for lady slipper orchids or balsamroot, and my grandmother keeps a constant eagle eye out for antler sheds.
The Columbia Highlands are special,
not just to me but in their very nature.
They’re one of the widest swaths of undeveloped land in Washington, providing
ample habitat for wildlife, and creating
all kinds of recreational and economic
opportunities for hunters, anglers, hikers,
loggers, and other forest users. They hold
a slew of mountain lakes and river valleys, miles and miles of trails, and varying
ecosystems. The Columbia Highlands
and the Colville National Forest, which
makes up the bulk of the highlands, are
more than big enough for people, wildlife
and wilderness. Life is slower there, and
peaceful. I think about it often as I’m sitting in traffic in Seattle.
Yet only three percent of the Colville
National Forest is protected as designat-
ed wilderness; the national average for
wilderness on a national forest is 19 percent. Compare those two numbers and
it becomes clear that we have work to do
on the Colville National Forest.
Designating even a fraction of the
beautiful, wild places on the Colville
National Forest as wilderness still leaves
plenty of room for woodcutting, ORV
and mountain bike riding, and other
activities that forest users value, while
providing a balance for ecological and
wildlife health. And our health, too. We
need wild places to venture into, and
we’re lucky enough to have them right
now in northeast Washington. But that
isn’t a guarantee for the future unless we
do something to protect them permanently.
I want my children to be able to
spend time in the Columbia Highlands,
just as I did, and know that landscape
has supported generations of family before them. I want the Columbia
Highlands to be there for them, and for
future generations of people who call
it home. I know I’m not alone in this
sentiment, and because of that, we need
better protections of this unique corner
of Washington.
The upper right corner of our state
feels like a different world compared to
the hustle and bustle of the Puget Sound
area. A priority of people who live in
northeast Washington seems to be a
ubiquitous one—not to live close to nature but to live in the heart of it. The Columbia Highlands offer a special sense of
quiet wildness, whether you’re a visitor
or lucky enough to call it home. Let’s
keep the Columbia Highlands wild,
now and forever.
Editor’s Note: Alaina hails from Kettle
Falls, in the heart of the Columbia Highlands. She grew up working and playing
on the Colville National Forest. She especially enjoys backpacking in the Abercrombie Roadless Area.
Hikers enjoy a day on Abercrombie Mountain. The wild roadless areas of the Colville
National Forest provide vital habitat for wildlife as well as cherished wild areas for hikers and
other recreationists. Photo: Craig Romano
Northeast Washington’s Columbia Highlands region and the roadless areas of the Colville
National Forest that we are working to protect as wilderness. Map: Amelia Tiedemann
Summer 2016 11
hikes Northwest updates
Five great northwest hikes for wildlife
Chase Gunnell Deputy Communications Director
Experience their homes, even if you don’t see them
With an incredible diversity of wildlands, from oldgrowth forests and alpine meadows to sagebrush steppes and
desert coulees, the Northwest is home to some of the best hiking and backpacking opportunities in the nation. But there
are more than towering forests and volcano views to be found
on our trails.
It might take patience, wildlife watching skills, and a whole
lot of luck, but our region also offers a glimpse at some of
North America’s most iconic animals. And even if you don’t
see them, setting out to experience the places that wolverines,
lynx, grizzly bears and caribou still call home adds an incalculable element of wildness to any outdoor adventure.
Because of connections to wildlife populations in Canada,
habitat protected in national parks, wilderness areas, and on
other public lands; and recent recovery efforts, today Washington features a wealth of wildlife found in very few states.
In fact, of the iconic mammal species present at the time of
the Lewis and Clark Expedition, only wild American bison,
residents of southeast Washington until the early 1800s, are
missing from our state today.
Wolverines have returned to the Cascades. Grizzly bears
persist in our state’s northeast corner, and a tiny population
Grizzly bears: North Cascades
High Divide
State and federal wildlife agencies
estimate that fewer than ten grizzly
bears persist in Washington’s North
Cascades, making it the most at-risk bear
population in North America. While
federal agencies consider how best to
restore this endangered population
through a multi-year Environmental
Impact Statement (EIS) that began in
2015, you can experience their epic
habitat, keeping your eyes peeled for
the last “Ghost Bears” of the North
Cascades. With high emerald meadows
and rolling ridges dotted with tarns,
12 Summer 2016
resides in the North Cascades. Fishers have been reintroduced
to the Olympic Peninsula and South Cascades. Gray wolves
are naturally recolonizing our state from Canada, Idaho and
Oregon. About a dozen mountain caribou still roam the transboundary Selkirk Mountains where Washington, Idaho and
British Columbia meet. North of Lake Chelan and west of
the Okanogan River ranges one of the Lower 48’s last Canada
lynx populations. Pronghorn antelope have been reintroduced
to the Yakama and Colville Reservations. Its prime time to experience a Washington that’s as wild as it’s been in a century.
Our region features more outdoor destinations than most
could experience in a lifetime. But when it comes to a chance
at seeing our most iconic animals, a few great hiking and backpacking destinations stand out. Here are five of Washington’s
best hikes to see the Northwest’s rarest wildlife species, or at
least to experience the wild places they call home.
Reminder: It’s important to keep a clean camp, carry safety gear
including bear spray, and give wild animals the space and respect
they deserve. Abundant online resources are available for safe
and responsible hiking and wildlife watching, including around
large wildlife like bears and moose.
as well as nearby river bottoms in the
Nooksack and Chilliwack drainages,
Welcome Pass and the High Divide are
prime grizzly bear country. Pack bear
spray and bear canisters, keep a clean
camp, cook and eat away from sleeping
areas, and keep dogs on leash. If you
think you see a grizzly bear, photograph
it from a safe distance and report the
sighting to the Washington Department
of Fish and Wildlife. Remember, color
and size are not good differentiators
between grizzly and black bears. Look
for a hump above the front shoulder,
a flatter, dished face, and long claws
for digging up tasty insects, ground
squirrels and vegetation.
Wolverines: Chiwaukum Creek
Unregulated poisoning and trapping
drove wolverines to extinction in Washington in the early 1900s. But in the last
decade the tenacious Gulo gulo has been
recolonizing our region from Canada,
with around 30 individuals estimated
to live in the Cascades today from the
Canadian border south to Chinook
Pass. Fun fact: at least two wolverines
have been documented around Chinook
Pass this summer, the first to be documented south of I-90. Formidable travelers, wolverines can range hundreds
of miles through the roughest terrain.
With their large territories and limited
numbers, seeing one or even spotting
their loping tracks requires luck and
dedication. Using motion-activated
cameras, Conservation Northwest’s
Citizen Wildlife Monitoring Project
has documented a number of
Conservation Northwest
ines in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness
west of Leavenworth. Wolverines prefer
alpine meadows and subalpine forests,
often following the snowline and digging spring dens in snow piles at the base
of avalanche chutes. Take the lush Chiwaukum Creek trail to its headwaters
around Chiwaukum Lake to visit the
home of one of North America’s most
storied creatures.
play an important role in forest ecosystems by feeding on birds, rodents and
even porcupines.
Mountain caribou: Salmo–
Priest Loop
Pacific fishers: Woods Creek
Like wolverines and wolves, humans
trapped, poisoned and shot fishers to
extinction in Washington by the 1930s.
Isolation from remaining fisher populations in British Columbia and Oregon
meant that there was little chance these
housecat-sized members of the weasel
family would return on their own, so
in the mid-2000s the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, the National Park Service and Conservation
Northwest began a collaborative effort
to reintroduce fishers to our state. From
2008-2012 approximately 100 fishers
were released on the Olympic Peninsula, where they are now reproducing
successfully. In late 2015, similar reintroduction efforts began in Washington’s South Cascades. Reintroductions
will continue in Mount Rainier National Park in 2016 and 2017, and later
in and around North Cascades National
Park. The 2015 fisher releases occurred
near the Cispus Learning Center, and
these “tree wolverines” have been documented in the lush mid-elevation woods
of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest.
On the meandering Woods Creek nature trail, look for fishers where ferns
cover the forest floor and fallen, mossy
wood abounds. And don’t forget to look
up; fishers are remarkable climbers who
Keeping the Northwest wild
One of the most endangered large mammals in the United States, only about a
dozen mountain caribou persist in the
South Selkirk Mountains. A unique ecotype of the woodland caribou subspecies, mountain caribou reside in limited
numbers in central British Columbia,
Alberta, Idaho and Washington state.
The only herd remaining in the lower 48
states and the world’s southernmost caribou, the South Selkirks herd occupies
a transboundary range from southeast
B.C. into northeast Washington and
northwest Idaho. While these animals
spend much of their time in B.C., a trip
into Washington’s Salmo-Priest Wilderness is an adventure into caribou country. Enjoy sprawling ridgelines where
wide-hooved caribou can find refuge
from predators among deep snow, as
well as dark forests lush with the hanging moss that caribou depend on for
winter food. If you’re lucky enough to
spot one of these extremely endangered
Northwest natives, treat it with the distance and reverence it deserves.
shoe hares, their main food source. The
Loomis is such prime lynx habitat that
up to half of the approximately 100 lynx
remaining in Washington are thought
to live there. In 1999, this 25,000 acre
tract of state Department of Natural
Resources Trust Lands was threatened
with timber harvesting. In a momentous
conservation effort, the Loomis Forest Fund, a coalition led by the Northwest Ecosystem Alliance (later renamed
Conservation Northwest) succeeded in
doing what few thought possible: in a
mere 12 months they raised $16.5 million from thousands of private individuals and regional philanthropic leaders to
buy the timber rights to this area. As a
result of these efforts, in 2000, the Loomis Forest was approved as a state Natural Resources Conservation Area to permanently protect its important habitat
and recreation values.
photos from top of article
Grizzly bear sow and cub by lake.
© iStock.com_federicoriz
A wolverine photographed by a hiker
in September 2014 in the Glacier Peak
Wilderness north of Leavenworth.
Photos: Jake Phelps
Roughly the size of a large housecat, with
a long tail, short legs, thick fur, and curved
claws for tree climbing, fishers are well
adapted for the mid- and low-elevation
forests they call home.
Photo: John Jacobson, WDFW
Canada lynx: Loomis Forest
Disappointment Peak Trail
Marcus Reynerson inspects a shed
mountain caribou antler found in a highelevation rainforest of southeast B.C
Between the Pasayten Wilderness and
the Okanogan Valley, the Loomis Forest’s mid-elevation pine, spruce and fir
trees provide particularly rich habitat for
threatened Canada lynx and for snow-
Photo: David Moskowitz
If you’re lucky enough to see a Canada lynx,
this might be the only glimpse you get. Have
a camera ready in lynx country!
Photo: Karl Vogel
Summer 2016 13
Paul Bannick Major Gifts Director, [email protected]
Making it count for the wildlands
Our new board member Bert
Loosmore brings an impressive resume,
skillset and admirable passion to Conservation Northwest (CNW). Bert is
a native of Bellevue whose entrepreneurial and board experience as well as
his Ph.D. in Quantitative Ecology and
Resource Management from the University of Washington promise to be
valuable additions to our organization’s
governance and strategic planning. He’s
interested in using this quantitative
background to support our work protecting, connecting and restoring wildlands for people and wildlife.
We are excited about the skillset and
passion Bert brings to the table and are
confident he will seize every opportunity and contribute greatly over the years
ahead. Recently, I had the chance to ask
Bert a few questions about what drew
him to our work.
When did you first become interested
in conservation?
Although I’ve been involved in environmental issues for a number of years,
I recently participated in Social Venture Partner’s Northwest Conservation
Fellowship program, which helped me
better define my passions and spurred
me to action. Personally, I believe that
nature has an intrinsic value and we as
humans should respect that. Protecting the natural world is about restraint.
That said, I value other opinions and appreciate the pragmatic approach to conservation that CNW pursues. Making
sure that we preserve and connect large
open spaces is critical for multiple reasons. Not only can our region’s forests
act as a carbon sink, but also we need to
conserve the fauna and flora within our
natural ecosystems for the enjoyment
of future generations as well as for their
own right.
What are your favorite ways to engage
with the natural world?
If I have to choose one, it’s backpacking, whether on Mount Rainier,
in the Enchantments or in the Pasayten
Wilderness or other places that are just
so awe inspiring! My kids, ages eight
and ten, are finally getting to the point
Bert Loosmore
where I can take them with me. I’m
looking forward to sharing my love of
backpacking and wilderness with them.
As a family, we also do a lot of downhill
skiing and spend time at our cabin in
What made you decide to invest your
time and energy in CNW versus other
I was initially drawn to CNW because of its work in forest protection issues. The more I learn about the breadth
of work the organization does, the more
excited I get about it. CNW is a well-run
organization and it has some ambitious
goals. I started doing some volunteer
work with CNW around forestry issues,
and found I really admired the people
there. I think it’s pretty amazing how
much they accomplish given the organization’s size. I truly believe in the mission of CNW and I’m looking forward
to doing anything I can do to help. I’ve
previously served on other non-profit
boards, appointed government boards
and even the board of a public company,
and so I’m confident this experience will
come in handy.
Little Annapurna Peak in the Enchantments, one of Bert Loosmore’s favorite backpacking
destinations. Photo: Chase Gunnell
Thank you to longtime board member George Smith
Recently, George Smith completed
his term as a board member and Treasurer for Conservation Northwest. A
founder and partner of Smith & Zuccarini, P.S., George and his team of
business and estate planning attorneys represent individuals and closely
held businesses throughout the Pacific
14 Summer 2016
Northwest. Active engagement with
Conservation Northwest has been an
extension of George’s life-long fascination with wildlife, hiking, climbing and
wilderness. Although he’s moving on to
new adventures, we’re confident he’ll
continue to honor us with his contagious wit and love for everything wild.
Thank you, George, for ably overseeing Conservation Northwest’s finances
and your many contributions to furthering our work for a wild Northwest!
–William Donnelly, Conservation Northwest Board President
Inside Conservation
gear to keep
it wild
Conservation gear
Keep the Northwest wild
Merchandise from Conservation Northwest makes great gifts and is a wonderful way to show your support for protecting
wildlife and connecting wild places from Washington’s coast to the B.C. Rockies. Visit to see the
full range of gifts we offer­.
Write in quantities below
Shirts cotton unless otherwise noted
Grizzly bear hoodie
Save the North Cascades Grizzly Bear
Black w/cream art, organic
Grizzly bear unisex tee
Save the North Cascades Grizzly Bear
Blue w/cream art, organic
Grizzly bear women’s tee
Save the North Cascades Grizzly Bear
Blue w/cream art, organic
Conservation NW classic tee
Cream w/ color logo
Wolf unisex tee $20
Welcome Home, WA’s wolves
Gray w/red art, organic
Wolf women’s tee
Welcome Home, WA’s wolves
Brown w/red art, organic “Junior” sizing
Conservation NW jersey ringer tee
Heather green, cotton/poly
Heather blue, cotton/poly
Grizzly bear growlers—­$20, available at our offices or events only.
NEW North Cascades
grizzly bear stickers—FREE.
Available at our offices and
events. Or purchase a $35 annual
membership and request grizzly
stickers and we’ll mail you one
of each!
Order information or visit
Your name
Yes! I’ll sponsor a Wildlife Monitoring team
City, State, Zip
____ $150, sponsor one team member for the season
____ $275, buy one team a new motion-triggered camera
Please add $5 donation (per order) for item shipping
Paying by VISA/MC/AmEx
Paying by check*
*made payable to Conservation NW
Card #
Phone # (please include for problems processing donation)
Keeping the Northwest wild
____ $500, sponsor a whole team for the season
Learn more at or visit our
Flickr photo archive to see photos from past seasons.
Exp Date
To order, mail this form in the center envelope, call Aleah at
800.878.9950 or go to Thank you!
Summer 2016 15
1208 Bay Street #201
Bellingham, WA 98225
Non Profit Org.
Blaine, WA
Permit No. 106
Please renew your membership
Jeff Baierlein Development and Communications Director, [email protected]
Your support creates a healthier, wilder Northwest
The Pacific Northwest’s
majestic beauty and
wild character make our home a special place. Yet climate
change, a growing population, and increasing resource use
threaten the natural heritage we treasure. Conservation
Northwest is a powerful force to protect our landscapes and
all creatures, great and small, who live here.
We’re particularly effective because we skillfully work in
collaboration with timber, agriculture and other interests
to fashion innovative solutions to safeguard the natural
world—while also protecting economic, recreation and cultural values. For example, our partnerships with First Nations, hikers, climbing and fishing guides, and other stake-
holders helps ensure that our campaign to recover North
Cascades grizzly bears is effective, powerful and ultimately
This couldn’t happen without you. Charitable contributions
from supporters like you protect our most treasured places.
Your generosity helps sustain the mountains, forests and
waterways that refresh the spirit and make the Northwest a
great place to live.
From wildlife bridges over I-90, to restoration of fishers and
grizzly bears and protection of wilderness areas, we’re leading the way towards a better Pacific Northwest. And your
support makes this possible.
Please consider a gift today. Give at www.conservationnw.
Your generous donation helps make the Pacific Northwest
a place that all of us—human and wild creatures—can call
home. Thank you.
Sunset at Bald Snow on the Kettle Crest, a wild roadless area in the
Columbia Highlands that we are working to protect as wilderness
with your support. Photo: © Eric Zamora

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