Grantee Spotlight: Stewarding Local Support for Wilderness
For more than 35 years Washington Wild has worked to protect wild lands and waters throughout Washington State because they are critical to our health, economic prosperity, sustainability, and the unique quality of life we all enjoy here in the Pacific Northwest. In the face of continual population increases and climate change threats looming on the horizon, Washington Wild continually demonstrates a commitment and ability to reach out and highlight voices of nontraditional allies in support of work to permanently protect the intact forests and watersheds that remain.
Washington Wild has led state-wide efforts to develop Wilderness and Wild and Scenic River designation campaigns to protect Washington’s next generation of Wilderness areas. Recent designations such as the Wild Sky Wilderness (2008) and the Alpine Lakes Additions (2014) follow a strategic approach that combines strong local support with committed and effective Congressional champions to protect underrepresented low-elevation forests and watersheds as Wilderness.
Campion Foundation supports Washington Wild’s leadership role in the Wild Olympics coalition, which proposes the first new Wilderness on Olympic National Forest in 30 years and the first ever Wild and Scenic Rivers on the Olympic Peninsula. A key focus of the Wild Olympics legislation is protecting upper watersheds and the benefits that these intact forests and streams distribute to fish, wildlife, farms, local businesses, and residents on its way to the Puget Sound.
The legislation was first introduced by Senator Patty Murray and Congressman Norm Dicks in 2012. After Dicks’ retirement, Representative Derek Kilmer re-introduced the legislation with Sen. Murray in June of 2015.
The campaign has established strong local support on the Olympic Peninsula (including 500 local endorsements) has secured significant positive earned media on the proposal. They are focused on increasing and broadening local support for the proposal, highlighting additional stakeholder voices in earned media opportunities, and are working toward key congressional committee action benchmarks.
Washington Wild has established a reputation for providing powerful grassroots advocacy when it is needed the most on wildlands campaigns. They have led statewide efforts to garner record setting numbers of comments in support and defense of wild places, and they will continue to do so.