Mining and Climate Change: Eastern Washington Headwaters

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Mining and Climate Change: Eastern Washington Headwaters
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Benjamin Drummond, aerial support provided by LightHawk

Protecting landscapes in the Eastern Washington Headwaters

Threats ranging from mining to dam construction to the ongoing effects of climate change threaten landscapes in the Eastern Washington Headwaters.

In the iconic Methow Valley, industrial-scale mining looms. Drought, climate change and other factors threaten salmon habitat and clean water sources in the Yakima Basin. Proposed dams would do irrevocable damage to the Alpine Lakes Wilderness and set a dangerous precedent.

We are working with federal agencies, state- and county-level government offices and legislators to address such dangers, developing solutions that provide clean water and other necessities for Eastern Washington communities without sacrificing our wildest places.

Why these places matter

Landscapes in the Eastern Washington Headwaters provide crucial habitat for hundreds of species of birds, mule deer, lynx and important salmon and trout populations. They also offer outdoor recreation opportunities that help drive local economies.

Potentially the largest sockeye salmon runs in the lower 48 states
The Yakima River Basin could be a crucial refuge for salmon if a proposed water plan is implemented.
150+ species of birds
That's how many live in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, which is threatened by dams and other development.
$150 million contributed to local economies
That's just the amount from visitors to the Methow Valley.

The threat

Wildlands and communities in Eastern Washington are facing varied threats related to the consequences of human activity, from climate change-related water shortages to hardrock mining.

A proposal to build a dam and water infrastructure in Alpine Lakes Wilderness, one of the most frequently visited spots in the North Cascades, would do permanent damage to a beloved landscape. To the northeast, industrial-scale mining is a serious threat to the Methow Valley, site of critical wildlife habitat and outdoor recreation opportunities local economies rely on. Meanwhile, Native American tribes, farms and salmon alike in the Yakima River Basin desperately need a more reliable water supply in the face of climate change.

We’re working on measures to keep wilderness intact, prevent damaging mining and ensure communities have the clean water they need.

What we'e doing

  1. Preventing dams in Alpine Lakes Wilderness

    We’re advocating for a responsible alternative to any dam or water infrastructure development in Alpine Lakes Wilderness or other wilderness areas, instead proposing plans to local agencies that protect habitat and outdoor recreation while ensuring reliable water flow for farms and local communities

  2. Protecting the Methow Valley from mining

    With local businesses and civic leaders in the Methow Headwaters region, we’re working toward a mineral withdrawal that would keep industrial-scale mining away and preserve the wild values that draw about 1 million visitors to travel through the Methow Valley every year.

  3. Supporting a plan for the Yakima Basin

    We’re supporting the Yakima Basin Integrated Plan, which is backed by farmers, Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation and more to protect the headwaters, improve water supply reliability, upgrade irrigation and restore a nationally significant sockeye salmon run.

What you can do
Submit a comment to protect Alpine Lakes Wilderness from new dams and other development
Take action