What challenges has Working for Wildlife identified?
Increased traffic on Highway 97 is elevating the risk to public safety from vehicle collisions with wildlife, and making it more difficult for wildlife to safely migrate as they historically would. On average, 350 deer are killed each year by vehicle collisions along the 11.7 mile stretch of Highway 97 near Riverside. Each collision has an average societal cost of over $7,000.
Sustaining Working Farms & Ranches
A recent analysis found that 45% of large ranches in the Okanogan changed ownership between 1993 and 2008. Of the land that changed hands, 53% was purchased by developers, investors and amenity buyers. Such properties are in danger of being subdivided into smaller and smaller parcels, and they are no longer contributing to our local food security or agricultural economy.
Management challenges on state and federal lands have reduced the quality of wildlife habitat and recreational experiences. These challenges can be redressed through collaborative restoration efforts.
The Okanogan's scenic nature and relative abundance of wildlife attracts tourists, including annual visits by hunters and anglers. In our economically challenged region we can't afford to ignore this opportunity. With appropriate long-term strategies, our relative isolation can be an economic asset to the community-- if we maintain the beauty, vitality, and abundance of our land.