North Cascades Conservation Council

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The North Cascades Conservation Council (NCCC) was organized in 1957 with the mission "to protect and preserve the North Cascades' scenic, scientific, recreational, educational, and wilderness values." For the next ten years, NCCC was dedicated to its main goal, the establishment of a North Cascades National Park. It was aided by other organizations dedicated to conservation, such as the Sierra Club, the Mountaineers, and the Federation of Western Outdoor Clubs.

Conservation efforts targeting the North Cascades did not begin with NCCC. Concerns about the area were voiced as early as 1892, when a park proposal for Lake Chelan was presented but denounced as being against public interests. In 1937, the first formal proposal for a North Cascades National Park was submitted by the U.S. National Park Service and Owen A. Tomlinson. The proposal was impeded by opposition from the U.S. Forest Service, which had recently lost the battle over the formation of Olympic National Park.

In the mid-1950s, Grant McConnell, a University of Chicago professor of political science who focused on public land policy, raised the call for an organization to protect the North Cascades. Disturbed by the U.S. Forest Service's plans for timber sales, mining, and construction of a cross-mountain highway over Cascade Pass, McConnell convinced Polly Dyer to call a meeting at her home to discuss the threats to the North Cascades wilderness. McConnell's main objective was the formation of a single-issue conservation group dedicated to the North Cascades. Meeting attendees resisted McConnell's plan, citing the work being done on the issue by the Mountaineers Conservation Division, to which many attendees belonged. The Mountaineers Glacier Peak Subcommitee, chaired by Philip Zalesky, was also praised for its concentration on an important geographic area of the North Cascades. After the meeting, McConnell and other Sierra Club members worked to persuade North Cascades conservation leaders to form an organization. Patrick Goldsworthy was one of those leaders, and he later became the long-time president of NCCC.

Goldsworthy had proven himself to be a committed Northwest conservationist in the early 1950s. After moving to Seattle in 1952 to accept a research appointment in the University of Washington School of Medicine, he joined the Mountaineers Conservation Division and met John and Polly Dyer. Goldsworthy, together with his wife, Jane, and the Dyers, established the Pacific Northwest Chapter of the Sierra Club in 1954.

On March 23, 1957, during a Glacier Peak conference in Portland, Oregon, Goldsworthy and others took up the call to protect the North Cascades. Twenty-six people from Washington, Oregon, and California were present for the formation of the North Cascades Conservation Council. NCCC designated its immediate goal as the formation of the Glacier Peak Wilderness Area. Bylaws were written and officers were elected. Philip Zalesky served as president, Pat Goldsworthy as first vice-president, Una Davies as second vice-president, Polly Dyer as secretary, and Yvonne Prater as treasurer. Harvey Manning later joined the group as editor of the NCCC's newsletter.

With Patrick Goldsworthy serving as leader of both NCCC and the Pacific Northwest Chapter of the Sierra Club, assistance from the national Sierra Club and its executive director, David Brower, was quickly forthcoming. The Sierra Club had begun leading its first outing trips into the North Cascades a year earlier. In 1957, the Sierra Club produced the film, The Wilderness Alps of Stehekin . Publicizing the cause of the North Cascades, the film was shown extensively by the NCCC and other conservation groups. It was also circulated to public officials and members of Congress.

The Sierra Club furthered its commitment to the Pacific Northwest in 1961 by hiring Michael McCloskey, the first Northwest Conservation representative. The representative was funded by the Federation of the Western Outdoor Clubs and served as a valuable lobbyist and advocate for the formation of national parks and wilderness areas in the Northwest.

By 1959, support for a North Cascades National Park was strong among conservation organizations, including the NCCC, the National Parks Association, the Federation of Western Outdoor Clubs, the Sierra Club, the Mountaineers, and the Cascadians. Conservationists called for the U.S. Forest Service to suspend its plans for timber sales and road construction, and to allow the U.S. National Park Service to conduct a study of the possible park area. Washington Congressman Thomas Pelly, a vocal advocate of conservation, asked the U.S. National Park Service to conduct the study, only to be reprimanded by the director of the U.S. Forest Service for neglecting to ask for permission. Congressman Pelly, with the assistance of the Interior Department and groups such as the NCCC, then attempted to introduce legislation to order the study, but was unsuccessful.

In 1961, Pelly was presented with a petition bearing 22,000 signatures in favor of a park study. That same year, Washington Senators Warren G. Magnuson and Henry M. Jackson also joined the debate when they encouraged Secretary of Agriculture Orville L. Freeman to develop a forest management plan for the contested areas. Freeman imposed a temporary moratorium on logging, which ended the following year, only to be asked by Pelly to impose a stricter moratorium on logging until a national park study was held. Freeman denied the request, since the U.S. Forest Service had completed a high mountain management policy for the North Cascades.

In 1963, after disputes between the U.S. Park and Forest Services were settled, a joint study of the North Cascades was announced. The study was recommended by the Department of Agriculture and the Department of the Interior, and the study team was chaired by the director of the Bureau of Outdoor Recreation, Edward C. Crafts. Public hearings to introduce the study were held in Seattle, Wenatchee, and Mount Vernon. The NCCC worked diligently to ensure a majority of oral and written statements in support of park establishment. The NCCC also submitted a comprehensive 120-page plan for the park, entitled Prospectus for a North Cascades National Park . The Prospectus confirmed the NCCC's leadership in the park campaign.

The study team's report, The North Cascades, was published in October 1965, recommending the establishment of a North Cascades National Park. The Sierra Club published the influential book, The Wild Cascades: Forgotten Parkland, in 1965 as well, to draw further attention to the area. Public hearings were held in 1966 to discuss the study team's findings. On March 20, 1967, Senators Jackson and Magnuson introduced Senate Bill 1321, which established the North Cascades National Park and the Ross Lake National Recreation Area. The bill was passed in November, and the following year, in October 1968, the North Cascades National Park Service Complex was created by an act of Congress.

Another long struggle to which the NCCC was committed was passing the Wilderness Act. The legislative effort began in 1956 as a wilderness bill drafted by Howard Zahniser, director of the Wilderness Society. The bill called for the conservation of the nation's remaining wilderness. Despite initial opposition and numerous revisions, the Wilderness Act was signed by President Lyndon Johnson on September 3, 1964. The act created the National Wilderness Preservation System and put 9.1 million acres of national forest land into the new system. It was the first wilderness protection legislation passed in the world.

The first major crisis to occur under the Wilderness Act began in 1967 with Kennecott Copper Corporation's plan to create an open-pit mine in Miners Ridge, a location inside the Glacier Peak Wilderness Area and close to Image Lake. Since Kennecott owned the mineral rights to the land, the Wilderness Act's clause regarding private ownership seemed to protect the mine's development. Under pressure from tremendous publicity and opposition by the NCCC and Washington congressmen, Kennecott decided to postpone its plans, although talk of commencing mining operations resumed in 1969 when copper prices soared. The land was later bought from Kennecott and the area protected from commercial interests.

The NCCC also participated in the debate over roadways in national parks. The Park Service program launched Mission 66 in 1956 to improve deteriorating and dangerous conditions in the national parks that largely resulted from a massive boom in visitors after World War II. Mission 66 expanded visitor capacity in the national parks to accommodate an estimated eighty million automobile tourists within ten years. The program called for adding more overnight accommodations, building visitor centers, and constructing park roads. The roadway debate continued in 1957, when the Washington State legislature authorized a survey for a cross-Cascades highway. On September 2, 1972, the highway, known as the North Cascades Highway, officially opened, to the dismay of NCCC members. Another debate began in 1961 regarding the Outdoor Advertising Act, which established billboard control along scenic highways. The NCCC called for more aggressive controls and restrictions of outdoor advertising than the controversial act established in order to preserve the scenic beauty of the Northwest.

Over the past third of a century, the NCCC has accomplished much in conservation, including the creation of the North Cascades National Park Complex, Glacier Peak Wilderness, William O. Douglas Wilderness (Cougar Lakes Wilderness Area), Alpine Lakes Wilderness, Mt. Baker Wilderness, Chelan-Sawtooth Wilderness, and others. The NCCC has also collaborated with British Columbia allies to block the raising of Ross Dam and to encourage the establishment of a U.S.-Canadian international park. In addition, the NCCC newsletter, The Wild Cascades, has kept its members and other conservationists informed of and dedicated to the various issues affecting the North Cascades. The North Cascades Conservation Council has been a leader in the protection and preservation of the North Cascades mountain range from the Columbia River to the U.S.-Canadian border.

From the guide to the North Cascades Conservation Council records, 1901-2003, (University of Washington Libraries Special Collections)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Zalesky, Philip H. Philip H. Zalesky papers, 1953-2002. University of Washington Libraries
creatorOf North Cascades Conservation Council records, 1901-2003 University of Washington Libraries Special Collections
referencedIn Manning, Harvey. Harvey Manning papers, 1946-2006. ND Univ of Washington Libraries (OCLC Worldshare ILL Beta)
referencedIn Emily Haig papers, 1933-1972 University of Washington Libraries Special Collections
referencedIn Brock Evans papers, 1936-1997 University of Washington Libraries Special Collections
referencedIn Haig, Emily H., 1890-1978. Emily Haig papers, 1933-1972. University of Washington Libraries
referencedIn Preston P. Macy Papers, 1916-1979, 1928-1964 University of Washington Libraries Special Collections
referencedIn Philip H. Zalesky papers, 1953-2002 University of Washington Libraries Special Collections
referencedIn John Osseward Papers, 1916-1983, 1947-1979 University of Washington Libraries Special Collections
referencedIn Macy, Preston P., 1891-1979. Preston P. Macy papers, 1916-1979 (bulk 1928-1964). University of Washington Libraries
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Brower, David Ross,  1912- person
associatedWith Brucker, Thomas H. S. person
associatedWith Clark, Irving M.,  1883-1960 person
associatedWith Evans, Brock,  1937- person
associatedWith Federation of Western Outdoor Clubs corporateBody
associatedWith Goldsworthy, Patrick D.  (Patrick Donovan),  1919- person
associatedWith Haig, Emily H., 1890-1978. person
associatedWith Joint Committee on Salvage Logging in Olympic National Park corporateBody
associatedWith Macy, Preston P., 1891-1979. person
associatedWith Manning, Harvey person
associatedWith Manning, Harvey. person
associatedWith McCloskey, J. Michael (John Michael),   1934- person
associatedWith Mountaineers (Society). Conservation Committee corporateBody
associatedWith Mountaineers (Society). Conservation Division corporateBody
associatedWith National Parks and Conservation Association corporateBody
associatedWith Osseward, John,  d. 1984- person
associatedWith Pelly, Thomas M.  (Thomas Minor),  1902-1973 person
associatedWith Prater, Yvonne,  1932- person
associatedWith Seattle City Light corporateBody
associatedWith Sierra Club corporateBody
associatedWith Sierra Club. Outing Committee corporateBody
associatedWith Sierra Club. Pacific Northwest Chapter corporateBody
associatedWith Tomlinson, Owen A.,  b. 1882 person
associatedWith United States. Forest Service corporateBody
associatedWith United States. National Park Service corporateBody
associatedWith United States. North Cascades Study Team corporateBody
associatedWith Wilderness Society (U.S.) corporateBody
associatedWith Zalesky, Philip H. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Cascade Range
Glacier Peak Wilderness (Wash.)
Mount Rainier National Park (Wash.)
Ross Dam (Wash.)
North Cascades National Park (Wash.)
Three Sisters Wilderness (Or.)
Cougar Lakes Wilderness (Wash.)
Olympic National Park (Wash.)
Washington (State)
Mount Saint Helens National Volcanic Monument (Wash.)
Environmental policy--Washington (State)
Environmental policy--Citizen participation
Environmental protection--Citizen participation
Nature conservation--Washington (State)
Washington (State)
Conservation of natural resources--Washington (State)
Environmental Conditions
Landscape protection--Washington (State)
Parks and Playgrounds
Wilderness areas--Washington (State)
Environmental protection--Washington (State)
Wilderness areas--Oregon
Electric utilities--Washington (State)
Dams--Washington (State)
Nature conservation--Societies, etc
Public Utilities
National parks and reserves--Washington (State)

Corporate Body



Ark ID: w6771qpf

SNAC ID: 22157069