The report is readable - and grim

 

Note: in the print edition of this issue, this article appears as a sidebar to another news article, "Columbia Basin plan staggers home."

Though politics may delay and water down the final plans of the Interior Columbia Basin Management Project, the science documenting the condition of the basin is strong and available.

In late December, the scientists working on the project released Status of the Interior Columbia Basin: Summary of Scientific Findings, described by its writers as a readable synopsis of the region's current ecological, social and economic conditions.

Illustrated by charts, maps and color photographs, the 144-page report depicts a landscape that has been dramatically altered by human settlement over the past 150 years. Among the findings:

* More than half of the national forests, rangelands and rivers in the Northwest - with the exception of wilderness areas, parks and remote canyon lands - are badly wounded from an ecological perspective.

* Major river systems are choked with sediment, harming fish habitat and killing fish.

* 128,000 miles of dirt and gravel roads traverse the region, serving as conduits for sediment-laced runoff and exotic plants.

* Highly effective fire-suppression efforts have snuffed out the historically cyclical influence of wildfire, creating in many places a tinderbox ready to explode.

* Noxious weeds and non-native grasses, spread by roads and cattle grazing, have smothered millions of acres of rangelands.

Though it stops short of specific suggestions, the report's conclusion favors "aggressively restoring ecosystem health through actively managing resources." Without such decisive action, habitat for endangered species will decline, noxious weeds will spread farther, and intense forest fires will increase, it says.

Conservationists say they are disappointed by the report's lack of specific recommendations, but pleased with its thrust. "It confirms what we've been saying," says Pat Ford of the Northern Rockies Campaign. "The healthiest areas in terms of ecological integrity are the wilderness areas and the millions of acres of surrounding roadless lands."

Ford, who is based in Boise, Idaho, says he is also pleased the scientific team concluded that the economic health of the region depends on the ecological health of the forests and rangelands.

"There's no doubt that some communities are dependent on logging," says Ford. "But overall it is the quality of life that drives the region's economics. That is the basis for the recreation and tourism industries and the reason many new businesses want to locate here."

For a free copy of the report, write the Pacific Northwest Research Station, 333 SW First Ave., P.O. Box 3890, Portland, OR 97208-3890, or call the Interior Columbia Basin Ecosystem Management Project at 509/522-4030.

NewTowncarShare News Classifieds
  • We are hiring a Wyoming Conservation Associate Full time, competitive pay and benefits. Location: Cody, WY (preferred), Jackson, WY, or Lander, WY Visit www.greateryellowstone.org/careers for...
  • The National Parks Conservation Association, the nations leading national park advocacy organization, seeks a Regional Director to lead and manage staff for the Southwest Regional...
  • This newly created position with The Nature Conservancy's Colorado River Program will play a key role in the development and implementation of strategies to achieve...
  • The Foundation NoVo Foundation acts from the original meaning of philanthropy: the love of humanity. The Foundation is dedicated to catalyzing a global social transformation...
  • A new generation of monkey wrenchers hits the Front Range?
  • The Tanner Humanities Center and the Environmental Humanities Program of the University of Utah seek an environmental writer to offer classes in Utahs Environmental Humanities...
  • The Wilderness Society works to protect Wildlands and inspire Americans to care for our public lands. We seek to hire a strategic, experienced leader who...
  • The Idaho Conservation League (ICL) seeks an individual to lead this 45-year-old organization as executive director, to carry on ICLs work as Idahos leading voice...
  • 2+ acres, 400+ feet on Snake River, 2800 sf residence, NWF-certified wildlife habitat, excellent hunting, fishing, birdwatching, stargazing, sunsets & panoramic views. In the heart...
  • Guardians is expanding and looking for a few great people to join us in protecting and restoring the wildlife, wild places, wild rivers, and health...
  • Organic grocery/cafe at Glacier Bay needs a vibrant leader. Love good food, community, and Alaska? Join us!
  • Ouray County, Colorado, a popular tourist destination, has dramatic mountains and amazing winter ice climbing. Challenging terrain and high altitude can push visitors to their...
  • National conservation organization seeks a regular, full-time California Program Associate-Tahoe Area. Position works closely with California-based program staff and National Forest Foundation staff to provide...
  • National conservation organization seeks a regular, full-time California Program Coordinator-Tahoe Area. Position works closely with California-based program staff and National Forest Foundation staff to provide...
  • National conservation organization seeks a regular, full-time California Program Manager-Tahoe Area. Position works closely with California-based program staff and National Forest Foundation staff to provide...
  • National conservation organization seeks a regular, full-time California Program Associate-Southern CA. Position works closely with California-based program staff and National Forest Foundation staff to provide...
  • Collector's Item! The story of barley, the field crop. 50 years of non-fiction research. www.barleybook.com
  • Are you a climber and a writer who is passionate about mountain literature? Do you love searching through old alpine journals for stories of esoteric...
  • 1400 sf of habitable space in a custom-designed eco-home created and completed by a published L.A. architect in 1997-99. Nestled within its own 80-acre mountain...
  • Colorado Canyons Association (CCA) is a growing nonprofit organization fostering community stewardship of our National Conservation Lands with a focus on Dominguez-Escalante, Gunnison Gorge and...