Forest Protection and Watershed Restoration
Forests are what define the North Cascades. Many other ranges have higher or more impressive mountains, but none, excepting perhaps the Olympics, have more impressive forests. From the very beginning, conservation in the North Cascades has been about protecting and preserving forests. Forests are the living skin that holds the mountains together, controlling water runoff, providing wildlife habitat, and even controlling the heights of the mountains themselves over geological timescales by balancing uplift and erosion. And few experiences can surpass that of simply being within one of the very impressive, old forests of the Cascades.
Thanks to the Northwest Forest Plan (NWFP,) adopted by the Clinton administration in 1994, cut levels on the National Forest lands of the Cascades are now just a small fraction of what they were prior to 1990. The NWFP made more difference in saving more forests than all of the Park and Wilderness areas ever established in the Northwest put together. Since trees tend to grow quickly in the North Cascades, some low elevation valley areas have now grown back with naturally regenerated, mature second growth forests which are well on their way to becoming old growth. Unfortunately, efforts have begun by the timber industry, the Bush administration, and others, to alter or eliminate the NWFP and push cut levels back up on the National Forests, often in the guise of "forest restoration." And the legacy of decades of reckless highball logging, thousands of miles of crumbling logging roads, poses ever-increasing dangers to watersheds and fisheries.
Accomplishments to Date
NCCC has been working intensively to raise public awareness of the importance of North Cascades forests through numerous media articles. Conservation advocates and the public have been made more aware of the damaging effects of so-called “restoration” logging, and the massive roadbuilding that comes with it. NCCC has analyzed, commented on, intervened in, and appealed many National Forest timber sales, resulting in many damaging sales being stopped or greatly modified.
NCCC is also a founding member of, and leading contributor to the "Washington Watershed Restoration Initiative," (WWRI) which seeks to address the serious problems presented by thousands of miles of crumbling logging roads on National Forest lands in the Cascades. Thanks to WWRI's efforts, appropriations have been secured to help begin the process of dealing with these thousands of miles of collapsing roads.
NCCC is a leading advocate of including forests in new Wilderness areas. Thanks in large part to NCCC's efforts, 80,000 acres of forestlands have been included in the proposed 106,000 acre Wild Sky Wilderness; with 60,000 acres of high elevation old growth, 14,000 acres of lowland old growth and 6,000 acres of lowland mature natural second growth, as well as nearly 25 miles of salmon spawning streams and rivers. The Wild Sky has a much larger percentage of lands under 3,000 feet (approximately 30%) than previously established Wilderness areas in the Cascades, which have approximately 6% in such lands. NCCC plans to work to insure similar levels of forest and river protection in future Wilderness efforts in places such as Mt. Baker and the "Seven Rivers" area south of the Skagit.
Current Issues and Activities
What You Can Do to Help
Contacts for More Information
Jim Davis (firstname.lastname@example.org)
North Cascades Conservation Council
P.O. Box 95980
Seattle, WA 98145-2980