Alpenglow Ski Mountaineering History Project Home
Edward A. Whitesell, Ed. - Defending Wild Washington
Part I. The Geography of Washington's Wildness
p. 8: In 1893, historian Frederick Jackson Turner wrote a seminal article that explored the significance of the Census Bureau's determination that the U.S. frontier ended in 1890. "In that year, the census showed that there was no longer a clearly defined line of settlers advancing across the United States, with settlements behind them and 'free' land before them for the taking." The editor notes that, in a very real sense, the frontier in Washington State persisted much longer. "It is only at the turn of the present century that Washington is definitively saying goodbye to its frontier days and making the transition to a postfrontier way of living with its natural environment."
p. 11: Olympic National Park was proposed in 1890 and Mt Rainier National Park was established in 1899. In 1937, a "super park" spanning the entire Cascade Range, to be called Ice Peaks National Park, was proposed.
p. 14: It is more difficult today for many citizens to participate and achieve results in conservation matters than in the past because the number and variety of issues is so large and there is no single organization that offers a comprehensive view of conservation objectives and strategies.
p. 51: The area comprising present-day Washington, Oregon, and Idaho became a U.S. territory in 1846.
p. 63: The U.S. Forest Service was created around 1900. The National Park Service was established in 1916. The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission was established in 1913.
p. 65: A universal system for classifying protected areas has been devised by the World Conservation Union (IUCN). The following categories are defined. A table on page 74 shows how the IUCN categories can be applied to Washington's protected areas.
- Category I - Strict nature reserves and wilderness areas
- Category II - National parks
- Category III - National monuments and marine sanctuaries
- Category IV - Habitat and species management areas
- Category V - Protected landscapes and waterways
- Category VI - Managed resource protected areas
p. 73: The Forest Service began to assess roadless areas that could potentially be put into wilderness designation in 1967, with the Roadless Area Review and Evaluation (RARE). The original effort was found to be inadequate and the Forest Service reinventoried its roadless areas from 1977 to 1979 in what came to be known as RARE II. This too was found to be incomplete and eventually the entire RARE process faded away and was regarded as a failed attempt. In January 2001, outgoing President Bill Clinton established the Roadless Area Conservation Rule, known as the Clinton Roadless Rule, which prohibited construction of roads on 58.5 million acres of national forest lands currently inventoried as roadless.
p. 75: The authors discuss what is protected in Washington and what is threatened (and why). A color insert in the center of the book maps currently protected areas by category.
p. 79: The 1984 Washington Wilderness Act established over 1 million acres of national forest wilderness in Washington. Another act in 1988 designated over 1.7 million acres of wilderness in the state's national parks. Wilderness areas now account for 9.4 percent of the state, out of a 45.9 million acre land base.
p. 94: Civic involvement has decreased since the 1960s. Contrary to common belief, the Baby Boom generation (born between 1946 and 1964) was the first to show serious declines in social, political, and community involvement. Generation X (born between 1965 and 1980) are significantly less engaged than their Boomer parents. Factors such as suburban sprawl, increased pressures of time and money, television, and generational change are discussed as reasons for the decrease in civic involvement.
Part II. How the Wild is Protected
p. 111: Dante: "In every action what is primarily intended by the doer...is the disclosure of his own image..." [quoted in The Human Condition by Hannah Arendt, p. 175.]
p. 120: The authors describe the establishment of Mt Rainier National Park in 1899 and the growth of alpine clubs in the early 1900s.
p. 126: In the 1920s, with increased automobile travel, conservationists became concerned that national and state parks were being "loved to death." The Forest Service built roads and developed facilities to prove that it could manage lands for tourism as well as the Park Service. In 1929, under the vision of Aldo Leopold, a new Forest Service system called the L-20 Regulation provided a way to set aside "primitive areas" to preserve the wild character of certain lands.
p. 129: During the Depression, Irving Clark, a member of the Mountaineers and leader of the Washington state Democratic Party persuaded the state's congressmen to introduce legislation for an Olympic National Park. In 1938, after a long struggle, the park was finally created, due in large part to the conservationist leanings of President Franklin Roosevelt.
p. 130: During the 1930s, in order to protect or increase their turf, the Forest Service and Park Service competed in a "who-can-best-protect-wilderness" debate. The Park Service drafted a generic national park wilderness protection bill which was introduced in Congress in 1939 but did not pass. That same year, the Forest Service adopted the so-called U-Regulations to supercede the earlier L-20 Regulations, mandating a higher level of wilderness protection.
p. 132a: Robert Marshall, who headed the Forest Service's Division of Recreation and Lands, proposed a 794,400-acre Glacier Peak Wilderness Area in the North Cascades in 1935. His proposal was supported by Forest Service chief Ferdinand Silcox and was on its way to becoming official in 1939 when both Marshall and Silcox died. The Forest Service ultimately established a Glacier Peak Limited Area in honor of Marshall and Silcox, though its size was reduced to 325,000 acres by the Pacific Northwest regional forester.
p. 132b: In 1937, Interior Secretary Harold Ickes initiated a study for a potential Ice Peaks National Park to encompass the entire Cascade Range, including its five volcanic peaks. The study team concluded that the range was "unquestionably of national park caliber" and that "[e]stablishment of this area as one superb park is an inspiring project to fire the imagination...worthy of the Nation's efforts." The proposed super park would "outrank in its scenic, recreational, and wildlife values, any existing national park and any other possibility for such a park within the United States" (p. 260). Both the Forest Service and timber industry opposed the proposal and the idea faded as World War II approached. A map of the Ice Peaks proposal is shown on p. 131. In later years, this proposal served as a benchmark to motivate conservationists toward a greater goal.
p. 132c: During World War II, Interior Secretary Ickes issued a nationwide decree calling for full use of the nation's resources, including those within national parks if need be. On the Olympic Peninsula, forests designated for later addition to Olympic National Park were harvested for airplane production. Bills were introduced in 1943 and 1947 to reduce the park's size, freeing timber for logging. In 1948, Olympic Park Associates (OPA) was created to protect the park. During the 1950s, OPA and other groups fought the Park Service over salvage logging in the park, which included the taking of live trees, some as large as ten feet in diameter.
p. 136: The turning point in wilderness conservation in Washington was the North Cascades campaign. In the early 1950s, the Forest Service began to study a plan to reclassify the Glacier Peak Limited Area as a wilderness area. Conservationists were dismayed when they heard the Forest Service's plans for a wilderness boundary that skirted along at 3,500 feet in elevation and excluded the heavily timbered lower valleys. In 1957, the Forest Service proposed a 434,000-acre wilderness area around Glacier Peak, about half the size of the 1935 Marshall proposal. In response, a group of conservationists lead by Polly Dyer, Phil and Laura Zalesky, and Grant and Jane McConnell formed the North Cascades Conservation Council (NCCC), a single-purpose organization to secure protection of Glacier Peak and the North Cascades. Phil Zalesky was president, Patrick Goldsworthy vice president, and Polly Dyer secretary.
Conservationists debated among themselves about which agency--the Forest Service or Park Service--could best protect the North Cascades. David Simmons, an intern under Sierra Club activist David Brower, argued that since national wilderness legislation had not yet passed, Forest Service wilderness designation could not be relied upon in the long run. The wilderness proposal issued by the Forest Service in 1959 confirmed this position. Conservationists began building support for a national park, publishing books such as The North Cascades and Wild Cascades: Forgotten Parkland and distributing David Brower's film Wilderness Alps of Stehekin to bolster their case.
In 1960, the Forest Service approved final boundaries for a Glacier Peak Wilderness, to be managed under the U-Regulations, increasing the acreage slightly from the 1959 proposal in hopes of curtailing the campaign for a national park. NCCC continued efforts toward a park and in 1963 a North Cascades Study Team was appointed that included representatives from the Department of Agriculture and the Department of the Interior. The Study Team issued a proposal for a national park and wilderness areas 2-1/2 years later.
In 1964, Congress passed the Wilderness Act, which added the Goat Rocks, Mt Adams, and Glacier Peak to the new National Wilderness Preservation System. The Glacier Peak area encompassed some of the land that the NCCC sought to protect. This made the continuing campaign for a national park tougher, since opponents pointed out that large portions of the region were already set aside in the Glacier Peak Wilderness Area. NCCC enlisted the support of Congressman Thomas Pelly and Senator Henry M. Jackson for a national park bill that was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1968. The bill created the North Cascades National Park and Ross Lake and Lake Chelan National Recreation Areas, totalling almost 671,000 acres of land.
p. 142: In 1968, a group of conservationists largely unconnected with previous wilderness campaigns in Washington formed the Alpine Lakes Protection Society (ALPS). Over a period of several years, they refined proposals and found a political champion, Congressman Lloyd Meeds, and succeeded in getting a bill through Congress in 1976 to create the Alpine Lakes Wilderness Area. The bill was signed by President Gerald Ford with the help of a visit from Washington governor Dan Evans during which he showed the president a copy of the Mountaineers' large-format book, The Alpine Lakes.
p. 146: After the 1964 Wilderness Act and the 1968 North Cascades Act, wilderness opponents strengthened their political lobby and conservationists realized that strategies centered on legislation were no longer strong enough to accomplish all their goals. In 1973 the Endangered Species Act was signed into law, reflecting scientific and public concern about ecosystem health. These factors caused a shift away from the conservation strategies that had worked in the 1960s.
p. 148: Chapter 7 profiles "Pathfinders in the Political Wilderness," leaders of the conservation movement from the 1950s to 1980s. These include Polly Dyer, Harvey Manning, Patrick Goldsworthy, Karen Fant (of the Washington Wilderness Coalition), and Tim McNulty (of Olympic Park Associates). Polly Dyer says: "Remember, if you think you've won, you've lost. We must recruit more people and build the lay public's interest and education." (p. 153)
p. 178: During the RARE II process in the late 1970s, the Forest Service inventoried 2.5 million roadless acres in Washington's national forests, but recommended only 269,000 acres for wilderness designation, mostly consisting of high elevation "rock and ice." Karen Fant and Ken Gersten started the Washington Wilderness Coalition (WWC) in 1979 to catalyze local communities in support of more wilderness protection. Organizations from all around the state worked with Washington's congressional delegation to pass the Washington Wilderness Act on July 3, 1984. The act protected nearly one-fourth of the lands now designated as wilderness in Washington state. Some wilderness areas proposed by conservationists were omitted, and the act included language that released the Forest Service from the obligation to consider wilderness preservation before developing a roadless area. This release was to last until the existing forest management plans were revised, expected to be ten to fifteen years.
p. 182: Few ancient forests were included in the 1984 Washington Wilderness Act. Timber interests had largely succeeded in keeping the wilderness boundaries at higher elevations, excluding low elevation old-growth forests. The 1980s saw the height of logging in Washington's national forests. Wilderness designation was not the solution for Washington's ancient forests, so conservationists began to look for new protective strategies. The "timber wars" in the 1980s involved science, direct action by groups like Earth First!, and litigation. In 1989, U.S. District Court Judge William Dwyer issued an injunction that halted logging until the Forest Service created a management plan to provide habitat for the northern spotted owl. In 1993, the Clinton administration drafted the Northwest Forest Plan, which dramatically decreased the allowable timber harvest. In June 1994, Judge Dwyer lifted his injunction. Later sections of the book describe the 1995 Salvage Rider (p. 190) and the 2001 Clinton Roadless Rule (p. 199).
p. 189: The 1988 Washington Park Wilderness Act designated wilderness areas in more than 90 percent of Mt Rainier, Olympic, and North Cascades National Parks.
p. 201: Chapter 9 profiles leaders in today's conservation movement, including Susan Jane Brown (Gifford Pinchot Task Force), Georgiana Kautz (Nisqually Indian Tribe), Mitch Friedman (Northwest Ecosystem Alliance), Bob Wilson (Save the Hanford Reach), and Dr. John Osborn ([Inland Empire Public] Lands Council).
Part III. Picking Up the Pieces
p. 270: Today the recreational demand for wild, "untrammeled" places exceeds the supply and steps have been taken to reduce impacts on overused spots. These include party size limits, revegetation programs, backcountry camping permits, and quota systems. Conservation groups must balance advocacy for recreational opportunities with the protection of natural resources such as critical wildlife habitat.
p. 286: Efforts to protect Mt St Helens began as early as the 1930s, when the mountain was included in the proposed Ice Peaks "super park." In the 1960s and 70s, proposals to establish a national monument were never realized. After the 1980 eruption a coalition of conservation groups worked with Washington's congressional delegation to pass a bill creating the 110,000-acre Mt St Helens National National Volcanic Monument. The bill was signed by President Ronald Reagan on August 26, 1982.
p. 340: "The most important conclusion we reached in our research for this book is that the citizen movement for the preservation and regeneration of the wild in Washington is not effectively tapping into the large public support for its cause." Another important conclusion is that the conservation movement suffers from "deeply ingrained predilections." The two top priorities have long been wilderness designation and the protection of old-growth forests. This agenda leaves out many rivers, the Columbia Basin, pockets of wild places in the Puget lowlands, and Puget Sound itself. "The legacy of citizen conservation work is glorious but it should not be glorified--not if a similar legacy is to be established by current and future citizen activists. [...] A constructive critique of the movement is necessary."
Return to the Alpenglow Ski Mountaineering History Project home page