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Recent Press:

Court: Endangered Selkirk caribou critical habitat must be revisted

ENDANGERED SPECIES -- In response to a lawsuit from a coalition of six conservation organizations, a federal court on Monday ordered the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to reconsider its 2013 decision to reduce by 90 percent its designation of critical habitat for the endangered mountain caribou.

The lawsuit was filed by the Center for Biological Diversity, Conservation Northwest, Selkirk Conservation Alliance, The Lands Council, Idaho Conservation League and Defenders of Wildlife, and were represented by attorney Laurie Rule of Advocates for the West.

Full story

Press Release

March 18, 2015              For Immediate Release

Contacts:         John Roskelley:  john@johnroskelley.com

                        Fayette Krause, fkrause@olympus.net

                        Greg Gordon, Spokane Audubon Society, fightingbull63@gmail.com

                        Mike Petersen, The Lands Council, mpetersen@landscouncil.org

Today, world renowned mountain climber and former Spokane County Commissioner John Roskelley, Fayette Krause, former Land Steward for the Nature Conservancy, Spokane Audubon Society, and the Lands Council filed a lawsuit in Thurston County Superior Court, challenging the Washington Parks and Recreation Commission land use classification decision and approval of ski area expansion in Mount Spokane State Park.  The decision was made on November 20, 2014 on a split vote. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has determined that the land in the PASEA provides crucial habitat for wildlife. 

John Roskelley, who served on the Washington State Growth Management Board said "Mt. Spokane State Park belongs to all the citizens of the state of Washington, not just to one small user group of skiers from the Spokane area for less than four months a year. Their politicized decision to classify critical wildlife habitat and an intact old growth forest on the northwest slopes of Mt. Spokane as recreation and authorize 280 acres of clear-cuts and logging damage to this irreplaceable alpine area fails to follow the Commission's mission."   

"This expansion will permanently destroy some of the best northern goshawk habitat in Spokane County, and fragment a native old growth forest that has stood for over two centuries," said Greg Gordon of the Spokane Audubon Society.

David Bricklin, Bricklin and Newman LLP (bricklin@bnd-law.com), and attorney for the plaintiffs said "Classifying these rare, old growth forests for recreational purposes is not allowed.  The Commission ignored its own regulations and policies which preclude a ski area classification for lands with high natural resource values" citing Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission, Policy on Protecting Washington State Parks Natural Resources (Policy 73-04-1), Policy E.1.:

Areas of a park containing natural resources of regional or statewide significance, unusual and/or sensitive habitats (e.g., bald eagles), or a species of concern should be classified restrictively to allow only low-intensity uses and minor facilities development. 

Fayette Krause has been instrumental in the preservation of forests in the State Parks system.  The Parks Commission approved his recommendations for the first nine State Park forests to be designated as Natural Forest Areas.  Fayette Krause said "I urge that all areas at Mount Spokane State Park identified in the Washington Natural Heritage Program's 1993 report, including the proposed expansion area, be fully protected and designated as Natural Forest Areas."


Press Release 
For Immediate Release
March 3, 2015


John Mellgren, Western Law Environmental Center, (541) 359-0990

Mike Petersen, The Lands Council, (509) 209-2406

Timothy Coleman, Kettle Range Conservation Group, (509) 775-2667

Bethany Cotton, WildEarth Guardians, (503) 327-4923

Conservationists Challenge Wildlife Services' Authority to Kill Wolves in Washington

Wildlife Services Activities Threaten Wolf Recovery, Healthy Ecosystems

Olympia, Wash. - Today, the Western Environmental Law Center (WELC) on behalf of five conservation groups, filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Wildlife Services program challenging its authority to kill endangered wolves in Washington state.

The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires USDA to prepare an in-depth Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) addressing the effects of employing Wildlife Services to kill endangered wolves in Washington. The agency completed a less-detailed Environmental Assessment (EA), but the document contains significant gaps and does not address specific issues that will significantly impact wolves and the human environment. NEPA review is designed to ensure all environmental impacts are analyzed and that the public has an opportunity to comment, and therefore influence, activities conducted using public funds.

The EA prepared by Wildlife Services fails to provide data to support several of its core assertions. For example, Wildlife Services claims that killing wolves reduces wolf-caused losses of livestock, yet recent peer-reviewed research from Washington State University directly contradicts this conclusion, finding that killing wolves actually leads to an increase in wolf-livestock conflicts. The EA also fails to address the ecological effects of killing wolves in Washington, including impacts on wolf populations in neighboring states and on non-target animals, including federally protected grizzly bears and Canada lynx.

"Wildlife Services' activities related to wolves in Washington have been extremely harmful," said John Mellgren, attorney at the Western Environmental Law Center. "The science tells us that killing wolves does not actually reduce wolf-livestock conflicts, but Wildlife Services is continuing its brutal assault on this iconic animal and it needs to stop."

Wildlife Services is a stand-alone federal extermination program under USDA that kills roughly 4 million animals per year, including wolves, grizzly bears, otters, foxes, coyotes, and birds-with almost no oversight or accountability. A 2013 internal audit revealed that Wildlife Services' accounting practices lacked transparency and violated state and federal laws. Concerns about the program's practices and effectiveness are the focus of an ongoing investigation by the USDA's Inspector General.

Washington has experienced Wildlife Services' recklessness firsthand. Last August, Wildlife Services' snipers mistakenly shot and killed the Huckleberry wolf pack's alpha female during a helicopter gunning operation. The killing was in direct violation of explicit instructions from the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife (WDFW) to not kill either of the pack's alpha members. The death of the Huckleberry pack's breeding female threatens the future of the entire pack.

Wildlife Services also ‘advised' WDFW in the contentous 2012 killing of Washington's Wedge wolf pack. In that instance, WDFW killed seven wolves after depredations of livestock on public lands, despite the rancher's failure to take sufficient action to protect his cattle.

"Wildlife Services' refusal to ensure its activities are based on the best available science strips the public of an opportunity to meaningfully understand and contribute to decisions impacting the health of ecosystems on which we all depend," said Bethany Cotton, wildlife program director at WildEarth Guardians. "Its past time that the dark practices of Wildlife Services are subjected to the sunshine of a transparent public process."

Wolves were driven to extinction in Washington in the early 1900s by a government-sponsored eradication program on behalf of the livestock industry. The species began to return to Washington from neighboring Idaho and British Columbia in the early 2000s, and the wolf population in the state has grown to 13 confirmed packs. Despite this growth, wolves in the state are far from recovered and face ongoing threats-including the threat of being shot and killed by Wildlife Services.

Western Environmental Law Center is representing the following organizations in the lawsuit: Cascadia Wildlands, WildEarth Guardians, Kettle Range Conservation Group, Predator Defense, and The Lands Council.


Press Release: February 17, 2015

Oil Transportation Safety Now bill Advances in State House 

Urgency for bill increased with derailment and explosion of oil trains in West Virginia, Ontario

OLYMPIA, WA –Today, the House Environment Committee voted the Oil Transportation Safety Now bill out of committee.  The bill is prime sponsored by Rep. Jessyn Farrell and Sen. Christine Rolfes.

This bill is supported by a broad range of local elected officials, emergency responders, health care providers, and environmental groups.

"Oil trains are already traveling under downtown Seattle and along Puget Sound. We need to pay attention to the risks to our communities," said King County Executive Dow Constantine. "I ask the legislature to take swift action on this bill." 

Press Release: 2/15/15

Today an oil train in West Virginia derailed and exploded, spilling oil into the Kanawha River and setting the nearby area on fire. In response Washington Environmental Council, Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility, and the Lands Council issued the following statement:

"Today's derailment and explosion in West Virginia shows how dangerous oil transportation can be to our waterways, communities, and livelihoods.

Today's accident puts the drinking water and homes of West Virginians on the line and illustrates the frightening risks posed by oil moving through our communities. 

Here in Washington, we have an opportunity to modernize and address current gaps in our oil transportation safety system by passing a bill that takes action on public disclosure and oil spill prevention and response needs (HB 1449 / SB 5087). In addition, the state should not allow more oil to come through our region, increasing the risks of spills and derailments, by saying no to the terminal proposals in Grays Harbor and Vancouver.

Today's events are a tragedy and a warning. It's up to us to do what we can to protect our state."


Thursday, January 29, 2015 

Snowshoes and science

Mountain becomes classroom on water quantity for Post Falls students

MOUNT SPOKANE STATE PARK, Wash. - For T'ariq Arp, the mile-long trek up the side of a mountain here on Wednesday was well worth the exercise.

The mountain and its snowpack became the classroom for Post Falls High teacher Cindy Rust's Honors Biology class, which is studying snow science from runoff to avalanche danger.

"At least you're not sitting in a classroom learning from a PowerPoint presentation," said Arp, a sophomore, taking a break from collecting data. "A lot of us haven't been snowshoeing. Some students are hands-on, so this field trip helps them understand what's taught in the classroom better."

Read full article

January 22, 2015

Students snowshoe Mount Spokane, learn of safety, snowpack

 The Spokesman-Review

Their breath caught in clouds of frosty air, but the frigid temperatures didn't chill the enthusiasm of the 21 students from the Community School, as they gathered at Mount Spokane last week for a snowshoeing adventure.

This is the third year Kat Hall, conservation programs director for the Lands Council, has taken students to Mount Spokane to learn about winter safety and the importance of the snowpack in our region.

The field trip is part of Project Sustain, the Lands Council's environmental education program. "The point is for the kids to realize the snow they're digging in and throwing at their friends, will eventually be the water they put their canoes in on the river," Hall said.

Read full story

Long Lake pollution study worries Suncrest residents

The Spokesman-Review

Andy Gendaszek dove into the shallow water along Long Lake's shoreline earlier this week, targeting dark, weedy areas downstream from housing developments.

When he emerged, the U.S. Geological Survey hydrologist was grasping handfuls of pondweed.

Read full article

OUTDOORS - The spokesman review - rich landers

Field reports: Mount Spokane land classifications affect ski area expansion

PARKS – Land classification proposals that could make or break plans to expand the Mount Spokane alpine ski area will be presented at the Washington Parks and Recreation Commission meeting Thursday in Bellingham.

The outdoors can be a bit hard to tame - but for restoration ecologist Joe Cannon, that's part of why it's worth preserving

July 6, 2014 
 The Spokesman-Review

South End Project aims to enlarge ATV access while protecting Colville National Forest land

For years, human activity has trashed the pristine ecosystem of Phillips Lake.

Campsites are strewn with human waste and beer cans. Signs and fences have been shot, pushed to the ground or stolen for firewood. Graffiti tags the boulders that rise high above the lake and reappears after every time it's cleaned off.

Read full article

June 11, 2014 by  The Spokesman-Review

Rules sought for conflicts over wolves

Northeast Washington ranchers have begun moving their cattle to remote Forest Service meadows, where many of the herds will spend the summer grazing in territory occupied by the state's growing wolf population.

With a high potential for conflicts, eight environmental groups have petitioned state officials to create rules that would place limits on killing wolves that attack livestock.

Read full article

March 6, 2014
The Spokesman-Review

Confluence Project lets science students get outdoors

MOUNT SPOKANE STATE PARK – Cass Hansen's head just crested the top of a snow pit that she and other Post Falls High School students dug on Wednesday.

The snow depth was 161 centimeters, almost as tall as Hansen's height of 5 feet 3 inches.

Digging through the first couple feet of snow was easy for the honors biology students, but they soon hit layers of harder, crustier material.

Full story

December 2,2013

Finch Arboretum creek to be restored for redband trout

The Spokesman-Review

A small creek that flows the length of John A. Finch Arboretum will soon become a better home for fish.

But that will require removing some structures built in an attempt to beautify the park.

Spokane's city parks department and several other groups will restore portions of Garden Springs Creek with the help of a $154,000 state Department of Ecology grant.

The natural creek, fed by springs above Finch Arboretum, flows through the city park, along a neighborhood, under two freeways and over a small waterfall before meeting Latah Creek near the 11th Avenue Bridge.

Full story

October 23, 2013


Posted on October 23, 2013 at 6:26 AM

The Lands Council's Green Sleeves project aims to make a difference for offenders and for the environment

KREM 2's Breanna Roy reports on our Green Sleeves project.

read full story

October 8, 2013 in Opinion

Editorial: Spokane stormwater gardens may help both river, city

A $30,000 contract with the Lands Council may help the city of Spokane siphon off some of the potential $350 million cost of separating and treating stormwater runoff.

It's a pittance, but if successful could be one of several steps the city hopes will whack $100 million off that treatment bill.

read full article

October 3, 2013

Shadle-area stormwater gardens will filter runoff

The Spokesman-Review

 The city is contracting with the Lands Council on a pilot stormwater management project in the Shadle area.

We are pretty excited about this," said Mike Peterson, executive director of the Lands Council. It's the first time the council, a local nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting the quality of life and the environment in the Inland Northwest has contracted with the city.

read full article

September 24, 2013 Press Release



full press release here


Spokesman Review
September 18, 2013 in Idaho

Ski expansion at standstill

Appeals court calls for environmental study of Mt. Spokane

A state appeals court has halted a major expansion at Mt. Spokane Ski and Snowboard Park, saying that the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission erred by not requiring a detailed study of how a new chairlift and runs would impact old-growth forest, meadows and wetlands.

Tuesday's ruling was hailed by The Lands Council, which appealed an earlier court ruling on the issue. The Spokane-based environmental group opposes the nonprofit ski area's expansion into 279 acres on the mountain's northwest face, which is recognized as having one of the largest unbroken tracts of subalpine habitat left in Spokane County.

"A major decision to turn what was a de facto natural area into a ski area expansion in a state park, said Mike Petersen, The Lands Council's executive director.

Preparing the environmental impact statement required by the Washington Court of Appeals will take at least two years, Petersen predicted.

"This really sets them back," he said. "We think it just might put an end to it."

Officials from the state Parks and Recreation Commission were not available for comment Tuesday afternoon. In a 2011 interview, however, a commission spokeswoman described the ski resort expansion as "the classic paradox for the commission, which has a dual mission of providing recreation and protecting the resource for future generations.

Brad McQuarrie, Mt. Spokane's general manager, had not read the ruling but said the resort's expansion has been on hold, pending the court's decision.

Mount Spokane State Park encompasses about 14,000 acres. The ski resort has leased about 2,300 acres from the state since the 1950s, including the 1,450-acre alpine ski resort.

Five years ago, Mt. Spokane submitted plans for developing the remaining 850 acres. The resort later pared down its plans, intending to develop 279 acres and leave the remaining acreage in a natural state.

Mt. Spokane's expansion plan calls for a new chairlift and seven ski runs on the mountain's northwest side. Proponents say it would give Mt. Spokane's operators access to deeper snows on the north-facing slopes, helping the resort extend its season and compete with other ski resorts in the region.

The ski area is operated by Mt. Spokane 2000, which would be required to pay for any improvements. Mt. Spokane 2000 is headed by Jim Meyer, the husband of Betsy Cowles, who is chairwoman of the company that owns The Spokesman-Review.

In May 2011, the Parks and Recreation commission voted to give the 279 acres a land-use designation compatible with recreation, allowing the expansion effort to progress. However, the ski resort was required to prepare an environmental impact statement when it submitted a detailed development proposal.

The Lands Council challenged the commission's decision, saying an environmental impact statement was required before the commission approved the ski area expansion.

The Washington State Court of Appeals agreed. Tuesday's ruling said that state law requires decision-makers to "be apprised of the environmental consequences before the project picks up momentum, not after."

The ruling also cited the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife's concerns about the ski area expansion. Department officials said the old-growth area provides important habitat for elk, moose and rare forest carnivores, including lynx and wolverines.

The Lands Council also wants Mt. Spokane to thrive, Petersen said. But he thinks that resort operators could improve Mt. Spokane's draw through investments in the existing operation, such as renovating the lodge, installing faster chair lifts and developing new runs.

"It's close to Spokane and it's a great family area," he said of the ski hill.

Press Release

September 17, 2013

For Immediate Release

Contact:  Mike Petersen, Executive Director

                The Lands Council

                (509) 209-2406



The Lands Council has won a court action that challenged the re-classification of part of Mt. Spokane State Park to allow a ski area expansion. We are pleased that the appellate court judges agreed with our concerns that Washington State Parks Commission failed to follow the law by allowing a ski area expansion in Mt. Spokane State Park.  At stake is the largest old growth stand in Spokane County, which the Commission had said could be opened up to ski area expansion. 

The Washington State Court of Appeals said that "...the Commission's failure to prepare an EIS for the 2011 classification decision violated the terms of SEPA and its rules and was contrary to governing case law. We affirm the trial court's ruling that the Lands Council had standing under SEPA to bring this action. We hold that SEPA required the Commission to prepare an EIS for its May 2011 classification decision and, accordingly, we reverse the trial court's summary judgment order dismissing the Land Council's claims under SEPA."

Their decision is the first step in permanently protecting the magnificent old growth on the west side of Mt. Spokane - which is our largest state park. As the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife wrote in a letter opposing the expansion; "The native old growth forest habitat on the northern aspect of Mount Spokane is an extremely unique forest ecosystem for the region with a high value for wildlife and species diversity.  The northern aspect is the very feature that makes this forest type unique from all other forest areas within Mount Spokane State Park.  Considering its size, its unfragmented condition, along with its stage of forest succession structure and complexity, a similar forest cannot be found anywhere else in the Spokane County regional area, nor replicated. " The Lands Council found that some of the trees in the proposed lift line were over 200 years old. 

Mike Petersen of the Lands Council said "We hope that the Parks Commission now steps back and questions the plans that the ski area concessionairre has for this park.  We hope to work with the Parks Commission and the concessionairre to improve the existing ski area, and have our own vision that would bring more visitors and still protect the most important old growth forest in Spokane County."

This vision can be found on the Save Mt. Spokane website:  www.savemtspokane.org 



For three decades, The Lands Council has worked to inform and involve the public in preserving and revitalizing Inland Northwest forests, water and wildlife

Click here to learn more about The Lands Council's accomplishments, or explore our Council News newsletter archive to find out more about our work

Main Press Contact: Mike Petersen, Executive Director, 509-209-2406 or mpetersen (at) landscouncil.org


The Lands Council - 25 W. Main, Suite 222 - Spokane, WA 99201 - (509) 838-4912
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