girl on rock overlooking a wide valley with farm land

Changes in our Forest Legacies initiative

After 14 years serving as Chief Scientist and Program Director for our Forest Legacies Initiative, Dominick DellaSala has taken the position of Chief Scientist at Wild Heritage – a program of Earth Island Institute. He will continue many of the forest conservation projects that were launched by the Geos Institute in his new role at Wild Heritage.

Our roots are deep in forest conservation having started originally as Headwaters – a regional organization made up of advocates and grassroots forest protection organizations across the Pacific Northwest. It was in those early years that we engaged in timber sale tracking, policy advocacy, and litigation.

 

That work put Headwaters in the eye of the storm during the “spotted owl wars” leading up to the Northwest Forest Plan - a key tool for forest conservation in our region. I was a summer intern in the early 1990s tasked with analyzing the Forest Service’s database of the different alternatives to see which one protected the most old-growth forests. It’s humbling to think of how far we have come since those early days.

For many years, we hosted the annual Headwaters Forest Activists Conference, which brought a wide swath of activists, from members of Congress to tree sitters, to Ashland in order to strategize, network, and imagine a world with vibrant, healthy forests. It was an honor to serve the larger movement for forest conservation in such a tangible way.

For the last 20 years, we have focused on the science aspect of forest conservation by working at the regional and national level to ensure that forest policy is based on the best available science and to put science-based tools into the hands of grassroots organizations.

Working with our allies, we have been a key contributor to many victories. From the enactment of the Northwest Forest Plan and Roadless Rule to the designation of the Cascade Siskiyou National Monument and the protection of the Kalmiopsis from mining, we have seen hard work and dedication pay off.

With all we have accomplished, we also know that we have not accomplished enough. Dominick’s departure has brought with it an examination of our role in forest conservation. Moving forward, we will engage on forest conservation issues where they intersect with our community-based climate resilience work. Given the connections between climate change and forest management issues around wildfire, flooding, and community safety, there will be many opportunities to leverage our long and accomplished history of forest conservation.