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Conservation Committee

Purpose: The Conservation Committee promotes the conservation wild lands, wildlife habitat and recreation areas.

Committee chair:

2008 Conservation Report

The new Conservation Chair is Jace Bylenga. Andrew Ashmore will continue to assist with administrative duties. Put yourself on the conservation e-mail activity list by sending an e-mail to conservation-request@spokanemountaineers.org with the word "subscribe" in the subject line.
Local Issues
Dishman Hills Dream Trail: Lorna Ream and Patty Houff facilitate a coalition of organizations to protect a wildlife corridor from the existing Dishman Hills Natural Area to the Iller Creek Conservation Area. A recreational trail is likely to result with terrific views and a path all the way to Big Rock on the south.
Dishman Hills Trail Work: Ken Mondal arranged for the Washington Trails Association to provide expertise and crew leaders to build new trails at the Iller Creek Conservation Area in the Dishman Hills. We had two weekends of work with about 15 volunteers a day. This multi-year project will give us all an opportunity to help out.
Minnehaha Park and Beacon Hill Cleanup: Steve Reynolds and Joe Coates led our effort. See Steve’s write-up elsewhere in this Kinnikinnick.
Spokane River Cleanup: Steve and Sharon Reynolds were our leaders on this big community project. There were several other organizations involved in sponsoring the cleanup that was attended by 100s of River lovers.
Save Mt Spokane from Ski Area Expansion: Jeff Lambert and John Roskelley are working with the Save Mt Spokane coalition to work to prevent the west side Mt. Spokane Ski Area expansion and work for the new lodge. See the website for more information http://www.SaveMtSpokane.com and to sign our petition.
National Forests
Colville National Forest Trail Work: Holly Weiler and Ken Mondal were our leaders in association with the Hiking Committee, Backcountry Horsemen and Conservation Northwest. They cleared every single trail in the Salmo-Priest Wilderness using hand tools.
Idaho Panhandle Forest Trail Work: Lynn Smith and Dennis Cowley organized trail work primarily under the Hiking Committee. Conservation assisted with the purchase of tools.
Stevens Lake and Lone Lake Cleanups: Chic Burge organizes annual lake cleanups including Stevens Lake where the Mountaineers have done events for decades.
Colville National Forest Wilderness Hikes: Crystal Gartner, Holly Weiler, Ken Mondal, Wendy Huber, Karen Jurasin, Jeff Lambert, Don Griffiths and several other Mountaineers led these hikes to potential wilderness areas. The hikes were sponsored by Conservation Northwest and the Club. They were open to the public and were offered to show the areas that are eligible for wilderness.
St Maries and Coeur d’Alene District Transportation Plans: Lynn Smith and Andrew Ashmore were our representatives to the process to designate transportation routes in these Forest Service Districts. They enjoyed working with a range of forest users including hikers, mountain bikers and ATVers to determine fun routes for all.
Colville National Forest Wilderness Collaboration – Ken Mondal, Andrew Ashmore, and other members participated in the long Saturday meetings with several other users to help the Forest Supervisor decide which areas should be proposed as Wilderness in the Forest Plan.
The Conservation Committee is strong with many volunteers working relatively independently. We are always looking for more folks who are willing to help out on your favorite issue. Please come to one of our regularly scheduled meetings.


"Dream Trail" wildlife/public corridor connecting Dishman Hills and Rocks of Sharon (Iller Creek) natural areas: A major effort through the Dream Trail planning team, a coalition including the Inland Northwest Land Trust, Dishman Hills Association, and others, to secure County Conservation Futures funding failed to get top priority due to the last-minute pull out of a key property owner. Undaunted, the team is forging ahead for other funding, looking at optional trail routes, maintaining property owner contacts, monitoring development proposals, etc. Broader in scope than the 2 1/2-mile connection, the project has included support for the County's acquisition of a 240-acre parcel from the state Dept. of Natural Resources, a continuing effort to secure Big Rock, many field trips and hikes (even a "moonlight" overnighter!).

Improvements to Conservation Futures natural areas: After playing a significant role in the successful fall '02 public vote to continue the Conservation Futures tax, members shifted to signing and trail projects. After hikes and field work, a specific proposal for a trail on the Slavin property south of town is going through the County's approval process with construction by Mountaineer crews anticipated in the spring. A 32-page Survey of Access and Signage of all County Conservation Futures sites was prepared and contacts with the Boy Scouts resulted in an Eagle Scout sign project.

Wilderness acquisition: Through representation on and support for both the Eastern Washington Wilderness Campaign working group and statewide "Wild Washington" campaign, efforts continued to secure federal wilderness designation for areas such as the Kettle Crest, Abercrombie and Selkirk Crest extension. Though attempts to meet locally with U.S. Rep. Nethercutt have failed, the conservation committee met with Larry Sheehan, a candidate to replace Nethercutt, to explain wilderness benefits. We plan to have similar informational sessions for the other four announced candidates for the 5th District Congressional seat.

Designating portions of public lands for non-motorized use: Mountaineer representatives have been diligently pressing for trails/areas to be set aside specifically for non-motorized users by attending forest planning meetings for Idaho's Panhandle and Kootenai forests and Washington's Colville forest. Several of the other activity committees have been involved. Suggestions for off-road vehicle (ORV) use are part of the process. To insure non-motorized representation in the face of overwhelming attendance by ORV users, a Board resolution to develop a club policy and process to improve Mountaineer involvement by all activity committees (e.g. climbers, hikers, skiers, paddlers) was presented to the Board for approval.

Cleanups: Traditional cleanups continued on the Mountaineers' Centennial Trail mile and the Minnehaha Rocks (George Shields park). Mountaineers worked a section of the REI-sponsored cleanup downstream of the Spokane city center in October.

Fees for access to public lands: A draft policy statement expressing club concern regarding the charging of parking fees at trailheads to undeveloped public lands for non-motorized users is being prepared for Board approval. The access fees are also part of the input to the forest planning process.

Earth Day: The now-traditional observance of "Earth Day" continued with a Riverfront Park climbing wall for kids plus conservation handouts, and a hike followed by a potluck picnic.

AVISTA Dam Relicensing: Club representation continued on both the plenary group and the Recreation/Land Use/Aesthetics work group for the federally-required process to relicense AVISTA's five Spokane River dams (Post Falls, Upper Falls, Monroe Street, Nine Mile and Long Lake).

Monitoring/commenting on development and other proposals: A sampling from the past year includes: Successful opposition to a proposed county comprehensive plan amendment that would have increased density and impacted a wildlife corridor in the agricultural area between Stevens Creek and Bruno roads... Support letter for Conservation Futures funding for a 12-acre site along the Spokane River near Stateline... Support for City acquisition of the Ashland Development proposal for 21 homes below High Drive that would block current trail use...

There were additional miscellaneous expenses. We are willing and able to help pay for mileage and fees associated with doing advocacy work in our area of interest. Talk to the chairs.

The Conservation Committee thanks EVERYONE who helped in any way!!! Any member who wants to learn more and/or join the effort is urged to:

1) Put yourself on the conservation e-mail activity list by sending an e-mail to conservation-request@spokanemountaineers.org with the word "subscribe" in the subject line.

2) Come to a monthly conservation committee meeting. (See Kinnikinnick events schedule)

3) Contact the chair: Jace Bylenga (269) 377-5658 or assistant Andrew Ashmore at (509) 534-4541.

4) The external link goes to the SaveMtSpokane website!!

Link to more information