Archive for May, 2013


Seattle PI: Saving the Teanaway River: Hit your iPhones

By Joel Connelly

May 29, 2013

The staid Forterra awards breakfast at Seattle Convention Center took on the momentary feel of a rock concert on Wednesday morning. iPhones were thrust into the air at the command of ex-state Ecology Director Jay Manning, who dictated a message to be sent that moment to legislators in Olympia:

Save the Teanaway River.

The group Forterra (formerly Cascade Land Conservancy) has preserved such places as an old growth forest in Lynnwood, a 10-acre wild land in industrial Tukwila, and cedar snags at the mouth of the Olympic Peninsula’s Copalis River, killed by the last “Big One” quake and tsunami in 1701. Its latest triumph, announced Wednesday, was acquiring 535 acres of forest and a 1.5 mile Port Gamble Bay shoreline on the Kitsap Peninsula.

But Forterra has bigger fish to fry. It’s trying to persuade the state Legislature to acquire 50,000 acres of private land in the Teanaway River valley, just north of Cle Elum and gateway to the Wenatchee Mountains.

If successful — the total price tag to purchase the land outright is $97 million — the Teanaway would mark the state’s largest public land acquisition in 45 years.

“It would be an enormously important conservation achievement,” said Charlie Raines of the Sierra Club, who has spent 30 years working on acquisition of “checkerboard” private land interspersed with U.S. Forest Service holdings in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness and the Interstate 90 corridor.

The Teanaway is a legendary place. The north fork road gives trail access to a spectacular corner of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness Area with such destinations as Ingalls Lake, Longs Pass, Sophie’s Tarn and Esmeralda Basin. The wild west fork is home to one of the wolf packs repopulating the Cascades. Wolverines have also been spotted in the upper Teanaway, said Forterra Executive Director Gene Duvernoy.

Continue reading the story.


The Future We Want

by Michael Garrity of American Rivers and Lisa Pelly of Trout Unlimited

Cle Elum headwaters

The Yakima Basin Integrated Plan is a big deal. For farmers and river flows, certainly, ensuring water reliability as the climate warms and snowpack shrinks and as what’s left of it melts off sooner. For fish, definitely, bringing back what may be the largest sockeye run outside of Canada and Alaska. And for families, without a doubt, the wild places that we love so well will be enjoyed and protected by future generations.

Both of us have explored, hiked, camped, bird watched, rafted and fished the rivers and streams of the upper Yakima basin for most of our lives. We’ve also put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into the negotiations that will, we hope, bring the YBIP to fruition. So today, as the prospects for an initial round of funding look good, what really gets us excited is imaging the upper Yakima Basin ten years from today, when the plan is well underway.

Upper Cle Elum Sockeye

In the beautiful Cooper and Waptus river watersheds, we have spent hours watching sockeye salmon spawning for the first time in nearly a century. With permanent fish passage constructed at the Cle Elum dam, we’ll be seeing a lot more of them making their way back to high valleys of the north central Cascades. We’ll also see happier, fatter trout in those rivers, and both of us are looking forward to hooking them on a fly. And its not just a fish story – salmon will serve as food for other fish and wildlife. Spawning salmon will help trees and forests grow stronger, taller and older as the fish bring fresh nutrients up river again.

Then there’s the crown jewel – the Teanaway Valley – the largest single public land acquisition in 45 years in Washington, that the YBIP will make possible. Wolves and wolverines have already returned, but the restoration of a robust salmon run and restored meadows and floodplains will create a wilder ecosystem there than has been seen in decades, if not a century. Instead of worrying about future development there, we’ll be able to camp, hike and fish to our hearts’ content.

The YBIP’s benefits are profound, and will stretch from the Cascades to the Columbia – we’ve only mentioned few here, focusing just on the upper Yakima. We both feel very blessed to be part of helping to shape a more sustainable Yakima Basin in the coming years, and are looking forward to many more adventures up and down its rivers and streams.

Garrity is the Washington State Conservation Director for American Rivers. Pelly is the Director of the Washington Water Project for Trout Unlimited.


Fish. Families. Farms.
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