We had an eventful 2017, contributing more funding than ever to conservation organizations. We responded to the shifting political landscape by hiring Kirsten Blackburn as our new Advocacy Program Manager. Kirsten hit the ground running building a program to educate our members about public lands, and to engage them on efforts to protect and defend those landscapes. We also launched the Public Lands Defense Fund, a new grant program designed to help organizations defend the integrity of our public lands system. And we worked more closely than ever with our outdoor industry members and peers to protect North America’s last wild places. Following is a summary of our grantees successes:
- Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument Expansion – Since 2013, we made a total of three grants to Soda Mountain Wilderness Council to double the size of the 66,000-acre Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument. In January 2017, President Obama added 48,000 acres to the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument. 42,000 acres of the monument expansion are in Southwest Oregon, and 5,000 are in California. The original 66,000-acre national monument declared in 2000 by President Bill Clinton was explicitly designated to protect the area for its biological diversity. The expanded Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument, now 114,000 acres, protects habitat for Jenny Creek’s freshwater snail populations, rough skinned newts, kangaroo rats, pygmy nut hatches and northern spotted owls.
- Kalmiopsis Rivers Mineral Withdrawal – We made a total of three grants since 2013 to Klamath Siskiyou Wildlands Center to protect Rough and Ready, Baldface and Hunter Creeks from mining, and to obtain Wild and Scenic River designations and expand the Kalmiopsis Wilderness to include their watersheds. In January 2017, the Bureau of Land Management executed a 20-year mineral withdrawal for 101,021 acres in Southwest Oregon, protecting the area from any new mining activity. The area includes Rough and Ready Creek, Baldface Creek, Hunter Creek, the North Fork Pistol River and the North Fork of the Smith River. As a result, 107 river miles are now protected from the adverse impacts of new mines for 20 years while Congress considers legislation to make this action permanent.
- California Coastal National Monument Expansion – Since 2013 we made a total of four grants to Conservation Lands Foundation to convince President Obama to designate new national monuments in California and Oregon. In January, 2017, Obama expanded the California Coastal National Monument to include six new areas: Trinidad Head; Waluplh-Lighthouse Ranch; Lost Coast Headlands; Cotoni-Coast Dairies; Piedras Blancas; and Orange County Rocks. Members of California’s Congressional delegation led a legislative effort to expand this monument, which enjoys widespread support throughout California. Congress failed to act, leading to President Obama’s proclamation. The original monument, designated by President Bill Clinton in 2000, preserved more than 20,000 offshore islands and rocks. The expanded monument provides on-shore public access while protecting important coastal resources for current and future generations to enjoy.
- Denny Cove – With support from The Land Trust of Tennessee and The Conservation Fund, a group of partners led by Access Fund and Southeastern Climbers Coalition purchased Denny Cove from a private timber owner. The 685-acre Denny Cove tract is now part of South Cumberland State Park. Transferring ownership was the final step in a multi-partner, six-year effort to secure permanent protection for this climbing area 30 minutes outside Chattanooga.
- Yellow Dog River Community Forest – Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve acquired 688 acres of forest along the Yellow Dog River in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The new Yellow Dog River Community Forest permanently protects public access to the Yellow Dog River, and preserves wetlands and forest for non-motorized recreation. In addition to river frontage and waterfalls, visitors can find upland mixed forests, old growth hemlock stands, granite rock outcrops, and rare plant and animal species.
- Elliott State Forest – We awarded Wild Salmon Center a Public Lands Defense Fund grant to build grassroots support for the Elliott State Forest. On May 9, 2017, the Oregon Public Lands Board unanimously voted to cancel the sale of the 82,500-acre Elliott State Forest to a timber company. Almost half of trees in the Elliott State Forest are more than 100 years old and have never been logged. This popular destination for hunters and anglers remains publicly owned, and the multi-year process to determine how the forest will be managed is underway.
- Squire Tract, Black River Cypress Swamp Acquisition – A 150-acre old-growth cypress swamp along North Carolina’s Black River is now protected thanks to The Nature Conservancy of North Carolina. The entire acquisition, called the Squire Tract, permanently protects 410 acres for conservation and recreation. Some of the cypress trees along the Black River are more than 1700 years old. With the addition of the Squire Tract, the Black River Preserve is now more than 3,200 acres.
- Boardman Dam Removal – We funded Conservation Resource Alliance’s Boardman River Dams Project to remove three dams and restore 15 river miles resulting in a free flowing and reborn Boardman River. CRA reports that they have successfully removed Boardman Dam, the second of the three dams slated for removal. CRA now turns its attention to removing Sabin Dam, the last of the three dams on the river.