Conservationists in our Mist

2016 marks the 75th anniversary of Snohomish Conservation District. There have been so many great leaders who have championed conservation here in Snohomish County, on Camano Island, and in the Puget Sound area. Some have been recognized, others not so much. Here are a few who have worked with us, or in the area, that we'd like to recognize, along with three books which highlight the life and work of these pioneer leaders.

Recollections of a Civic Errand Boy

The book, ‘Recollections of a Civic Errand Boy’, is the amazing story of John Henry Hauberg Jr. Hauberg was a Seattle philanthropist, WWII Veteran, forester and the owner of Pilchuck Tree Farm. Hauberg not only founded Pilchuck Tree Farm, the 16,000-acre research farm in north Snohomish and Skagit Counties, he was instrumental in the founding, with Dale Chihuly, of Pilchuck Glass School.

Hauberg was a humble man who took on many causes close to his heart. They included supporting the Seattle Symphony, the Seattle Art Museum, Bush School and Reed College, along with many schools for handicapped children. Hauberg had an interest in pre-Columbian art, Pacific Northcoast Indian Art, as well as Hopi, Zuni and Navajo art and crafts. Hauberg traveled all over the world collecting and donated pieces to collections in Washington D.C., the Princeton University Museum and the Seattle Art Museum.

In the realm of forestry and logging, Hauberg’s Grandfather, Frederick Denkmann, and great uncle, Frederick Weyerhaeuser, owned a sawmill on the Mississippi River and eventually came to own 80 mills. Hauberg mentions in his book that the Vanderbilt estate in North Carolina was likely the first forest managed with sustainability in mind, though many Indian tribes were also accomplished land and forestry managers. Previous to that, forests were basically self-seeding and not actively managed for timber production. The Denkmann/Weyerhaeusers also branched out to the southern states (Mississippi, Louisiana and Arkansas) as well as out west to the Idaho pine forests and Washington’s coastal forests. Yale University was beginning to look at managed forests as well, along with Yale conservationist Gifford Pinchot. Hauberg goes into great detail on the many families involved in early timber operations, mills, banks and companies like sash and door operations. He also covers the growth of forestry, managed timber operations and the forests he visited after the war in France, Germany and Austria.

‘Recollections of a Civic Errand Boy’ is an interesting look into the growth of the forest industry in the 1900’s, art, glass, and pre-Columbian and Indian art with a bit of family history and historic Seattle families and events thrown in. The chapter on the Seattle’s Ladies Musical Club provides background on how the Seattle Opera and Seattle Symphony got started. Pilchuck Tree Farm has been a stable presence in Snohomish County and with recreationists who hike or trail ride but very few know the background. The book is available on Amazon and select libraries (not currently at Sno-Isle Library, however it may be in the future). 

Extraordinary Women Conservationists of Washington

This book by Dee Arntz is a look at the many women who fought for the forests, wildlands, deltas and other treasured places in Washington. Many were on boards or became activists, some traveled to Olympia or Washington D.C. to testify at hearings, others pushed the boundaries, like Fay Fuller, first woman to climb Mount Ranier.

Ms. Arntz dedicated her book to “All the women who inspired me and all the men who stood with them”. The many years of dedication by these women resulted in protection for the Nisqually Delta, old-growth forests, state and national forests, as well as crucial habitat for many threatened birds and other wildlife. Another avenue they chose to pursue was toxic cleanups due to industrial contamination, especially in the Puget Sound area.

Toxic cleanups were championed by Jolene Unsoeld and Christine Gregoire, who negotiated the Hanford cleanup. Gregoire was the head of the State Department of Ecology. Unsoeld had a passion for mountain climbing, becoming the first woman to ascend the north face of Wyoming’s Grand Teton. After losing her husband and daughter to climbing accidents, she dedicated herself to her work in the State Legislature during the 1970’s and 80’s.

Bonnie Phillips, a well-known forest advocate, lived in Snohomish County at one time and was very active locally with the Pilchuck Audubon Society. Because old growth forests weren’t clearly marked, she organized an Adopt-a-Forest group to map rapidly dwindling stands. Phillips often stood up to industry and federal agencies in defense of old-growth forests and went on to lead the Olympic Forest Coalition until she passed away last year.

During the late 1980’s, growth of the Puget Sound area was quickly becoming an environmental challenge. Between 1982 and 1992, the Washington Environmental Council reported that Washington lost to development over 200 acres of forests, and 200 acres of farmland, every day. Around this time, women were becoming more active in the state legislature with the six committees controlling land use issues chaired by women, including Jennifer Belcher, Nancy Rust, Mary Margaret Haugen, Busse Nutley, Maria Cantwell and Ruth Fisher. They became known as the ‘Steel Magnolias’ (a popular movie from 1989) due to their style and toughness. Urban sprawl and traffic were impacting residents and well as businesses, and environmental impacts were reaching critical levels, resulting in various interests coming together and supporting the Growth Management Act. This book is a tribute to these women who led movements with the goal of a healthy environment and future for our children.

Other Greats in Our Mist, Past & Present

Local Tribes

The original conservationists, tribes have been proactive in protecting salmon, habitat and water quality since time immemorial. To learn about more about tribal history, visit the Hibulb Cultural Center/Natural History Preserve in Marysville ( Well worth the visit.

The Camano Folks

There are so many people on Camano Island who have stood up for Camano’s natural areas and public access. Val Schroeder, author of a book on Camano Island (right), started the Backyard Wildlife Habitat Program. Carol Triplett, Pam Pritzl, John Edison and Tom Eisenberg started and lead the Friends of Camano Island Parks. Scott Chase guides WSU Shore Stewards and Barbara Brock adopted Kristoferson Creek. Other great folks include the Kristoferson family, Whidbey Camano Land Trust, State Park Rangers, WSU Master Gardeners, Cama Beach Foundation Board and many more!

John Munn

The late John Munn was a gem of a man with a deep love of nature. He was a natural resources specialist for WSU Extension and enjoyed teaching youth about nature and stewardship. Munn had an interesting background–found as a baby in a cardboard box in the ladies restroom of the Greyhound bus station in Minneapolis–he was adopted by a loving couple, went on to forestry school at the University of Washington, and was a member of the 1956 Olympic wrestling team. Always positive and upbeat, he had a lasting effect on many.

Mary Margaret Haugen

Ms. Haugen served in the Washington State Senate from 1993 to 2013. She is a friend to farmers and the conservation movement and instrumental in spearheading legislation that allowed conservation districts statewide to develop assessments for stable funding. Snohomish Conservation District awarded Ms. Haugen its first ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’ in 2012 for her work supporting agriculture and local conservation districts. She lives on Camano Island and is on the Board of Directors of the Northwest Agriculture Business Center.

Paul Dye

The late Paul Dye was an engineer with a passion for birds. Together with his wife Lynn, he started Northwest Wildfowl Farm in Lake Stevens, raising native and non-native species of waterfowl for educational and conservation purposes. Dye often flew to Alaska as a consultant on native birds and helped establish the 160-acre Corson Natural unit, with his neighbor Colonel Corson, which was donated to Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife in 1976.

Don Bayes

Don Bayes, a retired Stanwood High School Ag teacher, used Church Creek as an outdoor classroom for decades. He stays active in Church Creek water quality efforts and for years supported Natural Resources Youth Camp near Cispus, always making sure Stanwood students were able to go. When not fishing in Canada, he can often be found helping with the Stanwood-Camano Fair.

By Lois Ruskell, Public Relations Coordinator