Where We Work
Signal Fire locates our programs on public lands in order to draw attention to the value of protecting and preserving these resources for ecological integrity, cultural history, and quiet recreation (such as art projects). While we occasionally do “one-off” projects far afield, we identify five regions of western North America as our primary places. We are invested in learning about these places and in building local partnerships to support our programming there.
Cascades Ecoregion- Signal Fire was founded with a strong connection to Mt. Hood (called Wy’east by the Multnomah). Our home region spans the main spine of the volcanic Cascades from Hayden Pass to Snoqualmie Pass, near Seattle (although we’ve done some programming in the North Cascades as well). This is the historical and present territory of many Native American peoples, including the Chinook, Kalapuya, Wasco, Yakama, Sahaptan, Molalla, and Klamath, among others. The clear waters and ancient forests of this region have been compromised by decades of industrial logging. Present impacts include strain from growing urban populations, energy development, mining on Loowit (Mt. St. Helens), and energy development to export coal and natural gas from eastern states and Canada.
Klamath-Siskiyous Ecoregion- The vast, hourglass-shaped watershed of the Klamath River is the ancestral homeland of the Klamath, Modoc, Yahooskin, Takelma, Shasta, Tolowa, Yurok, Hupa, Karok, Wintu, and more. Its unique geological history has created the conditions for rich biological diversity. Here you’ll find both fog-drenched redwoods in the coastal Siskiyou Mountains as well as arid high-desert separating the various tributaries from the adjoining Great Basin. Conflict over water use has created conflict between the Upper and Lower Klamath basins for decades, although an ambitious new dam-removal project may be forthcoming soon. Signal Fire’s campaigns in the Klamath include partnering in opposition to the proposed Jordan Cove LNG export terminal and the associated pipeline.
Four Corners Ecoregions- Encompassing the southern Colorado Plateau and into northeastern Arizona and northern New Mexico, this region forms the core of the Puebloan and Diné homelands, as well as Apache and Ute territories. High desert mesas and labyrinthine canyons hide archaeological wonders like nowhere else in the U.S. These are the cliff dwellings and rock art of the ancestors of today’s Puebloan tribes, which are still present in the region. The mining of uranium, fracking for natural gas, and widespread military testing have left scars on this landscape. Signal Fire supports the campaign to protect Bears Ears National Monument, a treasure of ecological and cultural heritage.
Pacific Northwest Rockies Sub-Ranges Ecoregions- The inland Northwest has some wild country: from the Blue Mountains of northeastern Oregon and southeast Washington, to the Bitterroots that divide Idaho from Montana, this clump of associated ecoregions includes some of the largest tracts of roadless land in the lower 48. Native peoples that call this land home include the Nez Perce, Cayuse, Umatilla, Walla Walla, Bitterroot Salish, Couer d’Alene and Kalispell. Logging, mining, and ranching have enjoyed abundant use of the region’s natural resources for generations. Energy development and the effects of climate change present new challenges to this very rural expanse of the west.
Sonoran Desert Sky Islands Ecoregions- Our work in the desert Southwest incorporates the Sonoran Basin and Range, the Madrean Archipelago, and the mountains of central Arizona and New Mexico. This is Apache, O’odham, and Yavapai territory. This is a land of dramatic contrasts. Scarce rain seems to fall all at once in the summer monsoon floods. The “Sky Islands” are mountain ranges that rise from the desert floor and offer abrupt biotic shifts with changing elevation. This region is divided by the U.S.-Mexico border wall, and the militarization of the border zone is a grave threat to the fragile desert ecology. Other impacts on the natural systems of the Sonoran Sky Islands include unfettered development, off-road vehicle abuse, and copper mining. Signal Fire supports the Apache Stronghold campaign to Protect Sacred Oak Flat.