The Cascade Forest Conservancy’s new three-year strategic plan is centered upon strategies to achieve long-term solutions that will have the greatest positive impact on wildlife and habitat in Washington’s South Cascades. Climate change has significant potential to impact our wildlife and forests, so the plan’s first goal is to strive for a forest ecosystem that is healthy, diverse, and resilient to the effects of climate change.
The Cascade Forest Conservancy works with our partners to safeguard the forests, rivers, and wildlife in Washington’s South Cascades. We work to maintain and enhance the important environmental protections of the Northwest Forest Plan and guard against harmful federal legislation. Within the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, we monitor individual timber harvest proposals to ensure that these projects generate revenue for local communities while maintaining or improving forest and watershed health. While thinning in young dense plantations can be ecologically beneficial, the Cascade Forest Conservancy has been increasingly concerned about the proposal of logging projects that justify harmful practices, like clear cutting, in the name of restoration.
Citizen science and community engagement are foundations for much of our work. Giving community members the opportunity to take part in conservation projects and the gathering of field data offers benefits for individuals and communities alike. In addition to acquiring important data and measurements for conservation and restoration planning, this work builds an enduring sense of stewardship that lasts far beyond the life of a project.
The Gifford Pinchot National Forest (GPNF) is home to spectacular wildlife. Presence of cougars, martens, bobcats, and more are all signs of a healthy landscape. The carnivores of the GPNF serve a number of roles in the forest ecosystems and are an integral part of our Pacific Northwest heritage. Ecosystem balance is critical to the resilience of forest landscapes, and the role that carnivores play in maintaining and bringing back balance has been seen throughout the region and the world.
The road system on national forest lands is arguably the single largest source, direct and indirect, of environmental damage. Roads fragment habitat, create barriers for fish, lead to increased sedimentation in streams, and increase human impact on plant and animal communities. The forest road system in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest (GPNF) is in need of review. The GPNF has over 4,000 miles of system road (enough to go to Texas and half way back). Many of these roads were built between the years of 1950-1990, primarily for the heavy timber harvesting of the era. Since that time, however, needs for and uses of the system have shifted dramatically as timber harvest has declined considerably and other uses, such as recreation, have grown. Road restoration is an important step in improving water quality, restoring habitat for both fish and wildlife, creating enhanced opportunities for experiencing wild lands and pristine forests, lessening the spread of invasive plant species, and supporting public access to key recreation areas.
Since 2004, the Cascade Forest Conservancy has been working to protect Mount St. Helens and the Green River—a wild steelhead gene bank and proposed Wild and Scenic River—from hard rock mining. In late 2014, we defeated another attempt by Ascot Resources Limited (a Canadian mining company) to conduct exploratory drilling for copper, gold, and molybdenum in an effort to develop a mine in the Green River valley.
Public lands provide essential wildlife habitat, and are exceptional places to recreate and reconnect with nature. The Cascade Forest Conservancy works to defend public lands, and the important values they provide to all Americans, from harmful legislation that would transfer these lands out of federal ownership. Additionally, we work toward proactive protections for public lands such as new wilderness designations and other protected areas within the Gifford Pinchot National Forest.