Preserving Our Lands, Rivers, and Wildlife

Envisioning the Northwest conjures up striking and scenic images: enormous ancient evergreen trees and winding rivers that stretch from the base of sharp mountain peaks to the Pacific Ocean, madrone hanging over wild rocky coastline, expansive views across the palouse prairies, and the Columbia River winding between basalt cliffs. These are the homelands of indigenous peoples who value the land, water, and wildlife for cultural practices, subsistence hunting and gathering, and have deep roots here. 

Washington’s mountains, rivers and public landscapes are sources of pride and enjoyment for all of us who live here. Every year, thousands of people flock to the Northwest to visit these iconic landscapes and experience these special places firsthand - ranging from national parks to state and local forests. Public lands are central to Washington State’s identity and it’s critical that we recognize the progress that has been made to preserve these places, and the ongoing need to keep them intact.

The Pacific Northwest has just a fraction of the old growth it did in the 1800s before logging turned the extensive forests of this region into a proving ground for industrial forestry. Just decades ago, it was not uncommon to return to one’s favorite National Forest trailhead to find a clearcut where there used to be old growth trees. Or, to watch salmon streams be choked with silt following reckless logging operations. 

Sierra Club has played critical roles over the years to chart a different path for our public lands. The Club has helped to designate Rainier, Olympic, and Cascade National Parks, preserved several million acres of National Forest land as Wilderness, designated miles of river as Wild & Scenic, called for increased protection of wildlife like salmon, and found new solutions for preserving State-managed forests. Our work is constantly evolving and we are always looking for volunteers to help lead in protecting the places they care about and help build bridges and new partnerships that connect diverse communities and viewpoints. 

Sierra Club volunteers and staff continue to preserve Washington’s public lands and rivers, and help change the way we view and value landscapes - for carbon sequestration, cultural history, reliable drinking water, unique outdoor experiences - things that are more important and more difficult to measure than board feet of timber.

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