Welcome to 2017.
Things may look a little clouded for conservation right now, but we wanted to share a few big wins we’ve had in hopes of keeping your spirits up.
In the last few months, we’ve seen the creation of a massive national monument, the passage of a funding bill that will help restore the Everglades and the temporary removal of a stunning area from mining consideration.
Bears Ears National Monument
In late December, President Obama designated several new national monuments, and expanded others, further cementing his legacy of conservation. One of the two new monuments is the Bears Ears area in Utah.
In all, the newly designated Bears Ears National Monument will protect 1.35 million acres of land held sacred by member tribes of the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition. The area is not only home to stunning vistas and diverse ecosystems, it is also filled with important and culturally significant archaeological sites.
Prior to the designation, LightHawk flew several missions with Grand Canyon Trust over the proposed national monument, including a photography flight to showcase the geologic and environmental diversity held within the area.
Central Everglades Planning Project
The imperiled Everglades scored a major victory in mid-December when Congress approved a waterworks bill, which included $1.9 billion in funding for the Central Everglades Planning Project.
The project will inject much needed water previously diverted for development and agriculture back into the Everglades to improve habitat by keeping marshes healthy fending off saltwater intrusion. The anticipated 67 billion gallons of water that will flow into the Everglades will help prevent seagrass die off, which threatens valuable habitat and fisheries.
LightHawk has flown about dozen flights in support of a healthy Everglades and is planning on many more missions as it is one of our eight strategic initiatives.
Want to learn more about the Everglades? Watch iLCP photographer Mac Stone, who flew with LightHawk over the Everglades a few years ago, talk about this amazing area at TEDx here.
Methow Valley Safe from Mining – For Now
Hailed as another Christmas present from the Obama administration, conservationists celebrated the temporary removal of about 340,000 acres in the stunning Methow Valley from rules that govern mining on federal land.
The action means the land will be off limits to new mineral exploration and development for two years — a period in which federal officials will consider whether to prohibit mining for the next 20 years, or possibly, permanently.
Known for its recreational opportunities and tourism-based economy, local residents and businesses feared a 2014 exploratory copper mining application filed by the Canada’s Blue River Resources would lead to construction of a large scale, open pit copper mine on Flagg Mountain.
The Methow contains some of the most diverse and productive wildlife habitat in Washington and its watershed plays a critical role in recovery efforts of the Columbia River’s once-great salmon runs, according to Methow Headwaters, a LightHawk partner.
LightHawk has flown several missions over the Methow Valley and will continue to support local efforts.