A small conservation nonprofit that has been working out of an Anacortes office for the past several years will close its doors Saturday.

Pacific Biodiversity Institute struggled to secure the funding needed to continue its work, which focused largely on areas of Pacific Northwest and Argentina, Executive Director Phoebe Barnard said.

In order to ensure the institute’s efforts continue, Barnard has gotten three larger organizations to carry on three of the institute’s programs.

“We were adamant that the programs were important and needed to continue,” Barnard said. “The programs are now all being restructured and rehoused in other organizations.”

The mission of the Pacific Biodiversity Institute was to develop research and conservation programs that provide information for environmental planning, policy and management in the Cascadia region, including Washington, Oregon and British Columbia, as well as across western North America and southern South America.

Biodiversity means variety of species. Barnard said preserving biodiversity and habitat, or wildlands, where biodiversity thrives is increasingly important.

“It’s effectively (about) making sure that as the global human population grows and the climate changes, that we still enable a future for (a variety of) species,” she said.

The Conservation Biology Institute, Natura International and the Center for Large Landscape Conservation will continue the institute’s work toward that mission.

Barnard will consult for two of the international organizations, and five of the institute’s six staff members have secured positions to continue their involvement.

Before opening an office in Anacortes, the Pacific Biodiversity Institute was based in Winthrop, where the Methow Valley News reported the nonprofit was established 25 years ago by Peter Morrison.

Barnard joined the institute in January 2017.

She said the institute ran into fundraising challenges and didn’t secure enough funding last year to continue operating.

While the institute is closing, Barnard said she will remain in Mount Vernon and continue to work with the volunteer base she has come to know in Skagit County since relocating here after decades working on conservation in Africa.

“I felt that there was an amazing opportunity here to take a young, dynamic and well respected organization that nonetheless had almost zero visibility and the possibility of a much greater impact to a higher level,” Barnard said.

Following are the three Pacific Biodiversity Institute programs that will transition to other organizations:

— Efforts to develop a Cascadia biodiversity early warning system will continue through the international nonprofit Conservation Biology Institute based in Corvallis, Oregon.

A biodiversity early warning system is a way of monitoring species long term in order to see trends, which could influence policy and planning decisions.

“It’s a very detailed way of looking at each species and seeing how they’re doing,” Barnard said.

— The South America Wildlands and Biodiversity Initiative will become part of Natura International, a nonprofit based in Washington, D.C.

Barnard said work through that program led to the planning and/or establishment of three national parks in Argentina in 2017-2018.

— Other wildlands, ecological connectivity and conservation leadership work will continue through the international nonprofit Center for Large Landscape Conservation based in Bozeman, Montana.

Barnard said mapping wildlands to help inform conservation has been a longtime effort of the Pacific Biodiversity Institute, with the organization producing the first U.S. map of wildlands in 2002.

“It has been widely used by a number of nonprofits and agencies for planning purposes to identify crucial areas of biodiversity that need to be maintained to maintain ecosystems that support our economy,” she said.

— Reporter Kimberly Cauvel: 360-416-2199, kcauvel@skagitpublishing.com, Twitter: @Kimberly_SVH, Facebook.com/bykimberlycauvel

Load comments