Friday, July 14, 2017


This past year I have been able to volunteer with and lead a variety of restoration events for the benefit of the environment. More recently I have been completing the acreage required for the environmental stewardship portion of my performance plan.

I assisted a work party of 10 individuals over three weeks at Leavenworth’s Ski Hill, where we cleared brush and improved mountain bike trails. The lead agency for the work we were doing was the Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance. We also assisted with pulling out non-native plant species. I also had the opportunity to lead four weekly volunteer trail crews at the Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery. The hatchery received donations of wood chips from the Chelan County Natural Resources Department. The Chumstick Wildfire Stewardship Coalition organized a few days for free brush disposal at the Dryden Transfer Station this past Spring, so all of the wood chips came from those events. The chips had to be used within the apple maggot quarantine area, so the hatchery was a great fit.

Once we acquired the wood chips, we worked hard to distribute them on the public access horse trails around the hatchery. I also spent some time helping with maintenance efforts at a few of the sites that Cascadia works on. One of the publicly accessible sites is the Cashmere Sportsman’s Association club, where a restoration project has been ongoing for a few years.

 All of these events have been a satisfying way to give back to the community that I have called home for the last 11 ½ months. I’ve worked to remove tires from embankments, planted dozens of native species in riparian areas, pulled noxious weeds, improved and maintained bike and horse trails, and have educated the public on the importance of native plants. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know this area and hope to continue living here and appreciating everything this valley has to offer.  Thank you. 

Friday, June 2, 2017

Spring Festivities

     Spring is our busiest time with community outreach, due to the sunnier weather and the multitude of Spring festivals. This year, I had the opportunity to attend and provide outreach at the Entiat Swallowfest, Chelan Earth Day Fair, Leavenworth Earth Day Community Fair, Entiat Earth Day at the elementary school, Apple Blossom Youth Day, and Touch-a-Truck. Each festival varied in size, but we reached 75-200 community members at each event. This year we partnered with Team Naturaleza, which allowed us to bring kids arts and crafts as well as educational material to each event.

     As a part of Earth Day, I reinvigorated our district’s Earth Day essay contest. It was open to students in grades 6-8 and I had 37 students from three schools participate. This year’s theme focused on encouraging the students to reflect on an experience they’ve had in nature that inspires them to care for the Earth. The top three essay winners each received student memberships to the Wenatchee Valley Museum and Cultural Center, as well as hand painted nature journals from local naturalist Heather Wallis Murphy. Prizes were presented at the Leavenworth Earth Day Community Fair.

     Educational outreach is critical to all of our programs. For example, at the Chelan fair I had three groups of people sign up for fire risk assessments for their properties, which is part of our Firewise program. The festivals give us a chance to meet with and talk to the community about all of the programs and services we have to offer. It also gives us a chance to address any concerns or questions that individuals may have. I have learned through the outreach that often times individuals do want to help their land improve, thereby improving their environment, but they don’t know where to begin. That is when we can help bridge that gap by connecting our resource professionals to the concerns and problems facing a particular area. 

Monday, April 24, 2017

Earth Day Winning Essay

          I feel the warmth of the rising sun on my oversized T-shirt. My eyes are closed but I can see what I want to see. I see myself standing on the rocks of the staggered cliff, arms in the air, with a slight breeze combing through my messy brown hair. I see the Columbia River with its gentle current at the bottom of a series of large warm rocks that I just happen to be standing on. The water is the brightest, most shocking blue I’ve ever seen. I see the park, our beautiful park. And I see the world, or at least a small portion of it.
         I don’t want what I see in my imagination to fade so I hesitate on opening my eyes, but I’ve been here enough times to know that when I open my eyes, I won’t be disappointed. My warm eyelids open to see what I imagined, but better. The river is the kind of blue that makes you wonder if anything else should even be considered a blue. The large trees on the other side of the water provide just enough shade to attract a few families along the water line. Bikers and joggers zoom behind me on the public trail. This… this is paradise.
        I look down at the my torn up sneakers, and at my blue bike with the chipped paint. There is no other place on earth I would rather be. I mean the smell of a warm day is just exhilarating. The buzz of bike tires whizzing by is more than a sound, it’s a way of life, and as far as I’m concerned, that’s the only life for me.
         This park, our park, in the small town of Wenatchee is my favorite place on earth. That’s why I need it to stay here. That’s why I want other people to see exactly what they imagined when they open their eyes. I want that water to stay that blue, and I want the smell of a hot day to fill the lungs of others the way it fills me with hope. I want the feeling of sun on your back to become not only the feeling of warmth, but a mindset. And that’s why I want to help in anyway I can with keeping our park beautiful, by picking up trash, encouraging others not to litter, and staying confident that we can change our world, no I said that wrong, and we will change our world for the better. So let’s work together to keep our parks beautiful, and better yet lets keep our world beautiful.

                                                                                                                        Happy Earth Day, Scarlette.

Heather Murphy, Scarlette, and Ava Izdepski pose for a photo at the Leavenworth Earth Day Community Fair. 

Friday, March 17, 2017

Community Supported Agriculture

Community Supported Agriculture.

The idea is simple. Get community members to pay farmers the cost upfront for receiving a weekly box full of the harvest’s bounty.

Of course, there is a shared risk factor involved in anything to do with farming. If a crop gets damaged or fails to produce anything, the consumer and the farmer are both negatively impacted.
The original CSA format, promoted by Robyn Van En, called for community members to participate in the labor on the farms using the share model approach. Now, with more and more members joining from cities and urban centers, there has been a shift to what is known as a subscription based model.

On the plus side, community members receive a substantial amount of locally produced, farm fresh products that allow them to eat healthy and cost-effectively. For the farmer, they receive money upfront, which helps with their cash flow through the growing season. Also, they help build a community bond with their neighbors by sharing what they do.

Benefits include local variety, introduction of new vegetables, economic viability for the farmer, opportunity for a living wage for farmers, local distribution of food (>100 mile radius) decreases transportation and carbon costs, community celebrations like harvest festivals, and donations of excess produce to food banks.

The subscription CSA model can involve a single farm, but it is becoming increasingly common to have multiple farms participate. This way, if a crop does not do well on one farm, the box can be supplemented with produce from a different farm.One of the biggest challenges that CSA farmers face is in getting land security for farms that are closest to urban centers.

On the consumer side, cost can be the biggest determining factor. Asking individuals or families on tight budgets to submit a lump payment, before the season begins, is not a feasible option. Some CSA’s are tackling this problem by offering a sliding scale option that can even accept SNAP benefits through certain USDA grants (Solomon). These are known as Agriculture Supported Communities (ASC). (Celebrate CSA). The weekly payment format is more accessible for low-budget families or for individuals on fixed income.

Everyone wants to eat healthy, locally grown produce. The issue is the cost and availability of such products. If you want to support your local farmers, while also being sustainably healthy, look below for some different choices. Spend time investigating the best fit for you and your family. There are lots of options!

In the Wenatchee valley, here are some options for joining a CSA:

If you’re in the Seattle area, check out
Or visit to find a CSA near you.

Farmer’s markets are a great choice as well, and may take less time and money to participate in. 

Below are some links to farmer’s markets coming in to season soon:

Cascadia Conservation District will be hosting a Backyard Gardening workshop on Saturday, April 15th. Come on over to the Community Education Garden to learn more about composting, gardening, and even backyard chickens!!!

~ Ava

Works Cited

"Community Supported Agriculture.” Complied by AFSIC Staff, Alternative Farming Systems Information Center, National Agriculture Library, U.S. Department of Agriculture. Reviewed Feb. 2017.
Local Harvest. “Community Supported Agriculture.”
McFadden, Steven. “The History of Community Supported Agriculture, Part II.” February, 2004. Rodale Institute Dig Deeper Blog.
Rodale Institute. “Celebrate CSA Day with Rodale Institute.” Dig Deeper Blog. 22 Feb. 2017.
Solomon, Nicole. “CSA aims for affordability.” Mother Nature Network. 26 Aug. 2009.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Earth Day Essay Contest

Cascadia Conservation District is pleased to announce our 6th annual Earth Day Essay Contest

The essay contest is open to students who live or attend school in Chelan or Douglas counties and who are in grades 6th-8th.

This year, the essay question is: 

Describe an experience you have had in nature, and how you connected with that experience personally. How does that make you want to be more environmentally responsible?

As students begin to think about this question, please encourage them to consider their connection to nature and their local environment. This activity is meant to encourage stewardship and integrate creative thought and writing with science.

The top three essays will get hand painted field journals created by local artist Heather A. Wallis Murphy and a student membership to the Wenatchee Valley Museum and Cultural Center!

Here are the particulars:

•The essays should be 500 words or less, size 12 Times New Roman font, and double-spaced.

• Typed essays are preferred, but hand written essays will be accepted provided they are legible.

• Word count should be included in the bottom, right corner of the essay.

• Essays must be turned in with completed entry form that can be found here.

Essays are due Friday April 7th, 2017. Essays postmarked April 8th or later will be disqualified.

• Winners will be announced on our website and notified by Saturday, April 22nd.

Submissions should be mailed or turned in to:
Cascadia Conservation District
14 N Mission St.
Wenatchee, WA 98801

~ Ava

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Native Planting 101 Recap

Last Saturday, February 11th, Cascadia Conservation District, with the help of AmeriCorps member Ava, hosted a Native Planting 101 workshop. 

AmeriCorps member Ava introducing speakers.

Connie Mehmel's Presentation 
It was a 4 ½ hour workshop with four presentations covering pollinator gardening, yardscaping, restoration, and weed management.

We had 46 adults attend, in addition to two volunteers and four speakers. 

Our 2017 Native Plant Sale is still accepting orders through March 1st!

All 11 species are still available. 

Download an order form HERE!

You can access some of the information presented on our website at

If you missed this year’s workshop, look for next year’s workshop info in Cascadia’s winter newsletter.

Ted Alway's Presentation 

Listed below are some wonderful resources to get you started on planning your natural yardscape:

Native Plants

  • Washington Native Plant Society
  • WTU Herbarium Image Collection: Plants and Lichens of Washington
  • USDA-NRCS Plants Database
  • Chalker-Scott, Linda. Sustainable Landscapes and Gardens: Good Science- Practical Application. GFG Publishing, 2009.
  • Fitzgerald, Tonie, Eve Carroll and Michael Terrell. Landscaping with Native Plants in the Inland Northwest. Publication MISC 0267.  WSU        Cooperative Extension, and US. Dept. of Agriculture, 2000.
  • Kruckeberg, Arthur R. Gardening With Native Plants of the Pacific Northwest. University of Washington Press, 1996.
  • Link, Russell. Landscaping for Wildlife in the Pacific Northwest. University of Washington Press, 1999.
  • Tallamy, Douglas W.  Bringing Nature Home: How You Can Sustain Wildlife with Native Plants. Timber Press, 2007.
  • Taylor, Ronald J. Sagebrush Country: A Wildflower Sanctuary. Mountain Press Publishing Company, 1992.


  • Washington State Noxious Weed Control Board
  • Chelan County Noxious Weed Control Board
  • Washington Invasive Species Council                                                                                 
  • Burrill, Larry C., Steven A. Dewey, David W. Cudney, and B. E. Nelson. Weeds of the West. Western Society of Weed Science, 1999.


Pollinator Gardening

~ Ava

Friday, January 20, 2017

Why Are Native Plants Important?

Native plants are an integral part of a healthy landscape. There are a number of reasons why that is, including but not limited to that they are naturally low maintenance because they often require less water than traditional sod. They do not require large amounts of fertilizer or pesticides that plants from other places may need. If the plants are native to your area, they have even coevolved with the wildlife as well. That means that many native bird species also rely on native plants as a food source.

By Akos Kokai (Native plant demonstration garden) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Non-native plants, otherwise known as invasive species, can wreak havoc on a delicate ecosystem.

Below is a list of a few reasons why invasive plants are worse than native plants for your landscape.

Air, Noise, Water Pollution
In terms of water conservation and the precious value that water is in an ever growing world, using water wisely is of paramount importance. Unfortunately, watering lawns can contribute to waste of a natural resource, “30 percent of water consumed on the East Coast goes to watering lawns; 60 percent on the West Coast. (Redesigning the American Lawn)” (National Wildlife Federation). Invasive species also require an increased amount of pesticide use that can pollute waterways. 

Harm to Biodiversity
Native plants also provide critical habitat to a variety of pollinators. Certain insects have coevolved to only eat certain plants, and if invasive species have taken over then there is less and less food for those insects to eat. That in turn causes there to be less food for the birds that feast on insects. Check out an excerpt of a film about the important impacts that native plants can have on a landscape:

Consumption of Natural Resources
Invasive plants often outcompete native plants because they usually lack their natural enemies in a foreign environment. As a result, invasive plants can strangle a hillside or choke a waterway easily. Alternatively, native plants natural abundance is due in part to the fact that they are native to your climate, and thus have adaptations for the amount of water and the soil moisture in your particular area (Backyard Conservation...).  

 Impacts to Public Health and Safety
Invasive species do require an increased amount of maintenance. Increased chemical use can lead to harmful effects in wildlife and humans (Benefits of Naturescaping). Extra fertilizer may also be required to maintain a green lawn. If you use native plants, and decide to compost in a natural garden, your soil will not need as many chemicals to provide good nutrients to your plants!

Cost and Labor Intensive
The cost of upkeep for a traditional lawn is about $700 per acre per year, as opposed to the care of a wildflower meadow at $30 per acre per year (About Native Plants). The equipment used in the upkeep of a typical suburban lawn includes lawn mowers, leaf blowers, and the occasional chain saw. These pieces of equipment emit as much hydrocarbon in one hour as a typical auto driven 50 miles. (National Vehicle and Fuel Emissions Lab, Ann Arbor.) Every year, a typical lawn requires 40 hours of maintenance, which is the equivalent of a one-week vacation (Benefits of Naturescaping). The noise pollution from a lawnmower alone can be enough to make anyone upset on an early Sunday morning.

Boring Landscapes
Avoid monoculture! Aesthetic concerns aside, native plants offer a wide variety of shapes, colors, and textures for your yard.

Why spend all of that time maintaining an unnatural landscape? Instead, give native plants a try. You won’t be disappointed!

Below is a preview of an excellent documentary film focused on the dangers of invasive species in Oregon. Washington state deals with a lot of the same resource problems as Oregon, and it is an informative piece on various issues in the Pacific Northwest. 

Convinced that native plants are the way to go? Don't know where to start? Come learn more at Cascadia's FREE Native Planting 101 Workshop!!!

RSVP today for our native plant workshop, Saturday, February 11th from 12:00-4:30 pm at the Wenatchee PUD auditorium!

Our plant sale ends by March 1st, so place your order today to ensure you get what you want. 

To order native plants, download a form HERE!


~ Ava

Works Cited

"About Native Plants." National Wildlife Federation. Accessed 1/13/17. 

“Benefits of Naturescaping.”

Green, Danielle. “Greenacres: Landscaping with Native Plants.” US EPA. Last updated on 2/21/2016.

Idaho Native Plant Society. Landscaping with Plants of the Intermountain Region.

“Let’s stop these silent invaders.” Accessed 1/13/17. 

“Why Native Plants Matter” Audubon society       matter. Bird Friendly Communities Blog. Accessed 1/13/17.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Winter is Here!

This is my absolute favorite time of year. Why? Snow, of course!

I think snow is fantastic. I love being in the snow and being outside during the winter months. I enjoy sledding, skiing (downhill, Nordic, and now backcountry), snowboarding, etc. I love it. Then there are the sports that I want to try and haven’t experienced yet, like snowmobiling and ice fishing!

We are lucky to live in an area that has such an abundance of outdoor recreational activities available. The outdoors during winter can also be especially dangerous though, for those who adventure unprepared. The good news is that there are a multitude of ways to get more information about snow data that can help predict weather and climate.

I’m personally a total data geek, and I wanted to talk about some of the ways scientists can use data to measure different outcomes. The information can be utilized for a few different pursuits ranging from water resource management to backcountry skiing. This valuable information can inform and empower a variety of stakeholders ranging from mayors to private landowners to city planners. It’s called SNOTEL (Snowpack Telemetry)! The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has designed two delightful infographics that highlight parts of the program. 

Another way to predict weather can be from studying a climatic pheomena called ENSO (El Niño-Southern Oscillation.) Now, I am not a climate scientist so I do encourage you to check out
for more information. 

The video below explains the process of predictions and 
some of the limitations that exist when trying to predict seasonal forecasting.  
I can say, though, that the Earth is experiencing a weak La Niña this year. The video below explains more about the predictions for Winter 2016-17.

If video isn’t your thing, here is an image outlining the GENERAL trend that weather might show this year across the globe.

If you notice, even in a weak La Niña year, the Northwestern United States does tend to receive an increased amount of cool, wet weather. This has led some to believe that there may be increased snowfall in the NW associated with La Niña. I certainly hope so!

Cheers to a solid snowpack this winter, and Happy Holidays!

~ Ava

Works Cited

Dewitt, Dave. Predicting El Niño and La Niña Events. Online video clip. YouTube. October 7, 2016.

ENSO Blog. Science and Information for a Climate-Smart Nation.

Gratz, Joel. “Whats a Snotel Site and How Does it Work?”

Halpert, Mike. NOAA Climate Prediction Center’s 2016-17 winter outlook. Online video clip. YouTube. October 20, 2016.

L’Heureux, Michelle. What is the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) in a nutshell?” May 5th, 2014.

Miller, Spencer. “Measuring the Value of Snow. March 14th, 2014.

NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information. “La Niña Outlook, Impacts for Winter 2016-17.”

NRCS National Water and Climate Center. “SNOTEL Data Collection Network Fact Sheet.”

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Little Chumstick Creek Community Tire Clean-Up Day

In the summer of 2016, a property was foreclosed adjacent to Little Chumstick Creek.  During the clean-up process, a non-local contractor avoided dumping fees by disposing of 300-350 tires directly into Little Chumstick Creek.  After several months of frustrated neighbors working with the bank that owns the offending property, and pressuring the responsible contractor to remedy the problem, the neighborhood had little success.  During the recent implementation of a Cascadia Conservation District stream restoration project on adjoining property, the neighbors reached out to see if the CD could assist with removal and disposal of the tires.
Tires illegally dumped in creek

Volunteers hauling tires out of creek
AmeriCorps member Ava is keeping track of signing in volunteers
Little Chumstick Creek is a tributary of Chumstick Creek, which has been identified as critical steelhead and salmon habitat in the Wenatchee River Watershed. Streams were re-opened to fish passage in 2012 after 13 fish barriers were removed and replaced with cast concrete bridges.  Following the barrier removal, endangered steelhead and spring chinook have increased use of the creek which offers protection to juveniles during high water events in the Wenatchee River, and cold water for spawning during peak summer temperatures.

Most of this ~15 mile watershed has been utilized for agriculture throughout the 20th century, which has resulted in severally degraded habitat throughout much of the watershed.  Cascadia Conservation District has partnered with Washington Department of Ecology to make stream restoration a priority in the Chumstick watershed, and this project area represents an excellent example of an area in need of restoration and clean-up to improve habitat as well as water quality and quantity.
Semi-trailer used to haul tires away from site

The district hosts 1-2 volunteer clean up days in each of the Chelan County Watersheds each year. Our efforts are directed towards building relationships within the community we serve, as well as local by-in to continue implementing restoration projects in the area. 

Crew after helping to remove tires from the creek

On Saturday, December 3rd, Cascadia hosted the tire clean-up day. To make the clean-up possible, Chelan County Solid Waste donated use of a 28 foot semi-trailer to haul out tires and pay for the cost of disposal. We had about 18 volunteers attend the event and were able to remove about 350 tires in only two hours! We look forward to continue making progress in habitat restoration throughout Chelan County. 

Monday, November 14, 2016

Clean Water Campaign

This year, our Picture Chelan County Photo Contest received 75 entries from 19 photographers. The winning photographs are featured in our 2017 stewardship calendar. You can purchase yours today for $10 at our office!

One of the goals of the contest is to spread awareness about our clean water campaign. Chelan County still has many water bodies that do not meet water quality standards. You can always access an updated water quality factsheet for the Wenatchee River and its tributaries at

Clean water is essential to healthy habitats for animals, as well as for clean drinking water sources.
There are ways for you to help! Below are just a few of the changes you can make to create a better future for yourself, your family, your community, and your environment. 

In Your Home

Use low or no phosphorus detergents and soaps. One pound of phosphorus can grow 700 pounds of algae. Too much algae reduces the amount of oxygen available for fish and aquatic life.  

Conserve water! Use it wisely. There is the same amount of water on earth for all 7.5 billion of us. Only 1% of all of the water is fresh, liquid water that we (humans) can use for drinking, cooking, and many other uses.  

Properly maintain your septic system. Without regular maintenance, septic systems can fail or overflow. Spills or leaks from a septic tank can cause raw sewage to pollute drinking water supplies and nearby rivers and streams. For more information and a list of qualified service providers, contact the Chelan-Douglas Health District at (509)886-6450 or visit Visit the USDA Rural Development website for information on septic system repair programs.

In Your Yard

Many of us use fertilizers, weed killers and pesticides to keep our lawns green and our gardens productive. When we treat yard care as an all-out war, the ‘arsenal’ of modern chemicals can take a toll on beneficial insects, wildlife and fish, not to mention children and pets. When storm water flows over our yards and gardens it takes pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers with it all the way to rivers, lakes and streams. These chemicals poison wildlife and absorb oxygen from the water. By using natural alternatives, such as compost, in place of chemical fertilizers and limiting pesticide use to judicious, targeted applications, you can have a beautiful backyard without causing collateral damage.

Keep Invasives at Bay. Noxious, or invasive, plant species can outcompete native plants. They can destroy native plant and animal habitat, damage recreational opportunities and clog waterways. Controlling noxious weeds is good stewardship and it’s the law. To learn more, consult the Chelan County Noxious Weed Board (, the Washington State Noxious Weed Control Board (, or the Nature Conservancy ( Our native plant workshop will be a free informational event on February 11th, 2017. If you are interested in purchasing native plants, check out our native plant sale going on through March 1st, 2017:

Restore Riparian Areas. Let us help you figure out how to create healthier streamside habitat in the Wenatchee Valley. If you are a streamside landowner, we may have funding to help create a project. Benefits of riparian plantings and restoration projects include: bank stabilization, weed control, shading, and flood attenuation, as well as providing habitat for fish and wildlife. For additional information, contact Sandy Letzing at or (509) 436-1601.

With Your Vehicles

Use a commercial car wash. Washing your car at a commercial car wash ensures that the pollutants like oil and other chemicals on your car go into a sewer system and get treated at a wastewater treatment plant, instead of washing directly into streams and rivers through storm drains.

Keep your car in working order. Fix car leaks quickly and dispose of fluids properly. Oil and other substances that leak from our cars onto roads, driveways, and parking lots are washed into waterways by rain and melting snow. That oil is toxic to people and wildlife.

With Your Animals

Keep livestock out of waterways. A 1,400 pound cow and 1,200 pound horse produce roughly 88 and 60 pounds of waste per day, respectively. Left exposed to the weather, this manure can contribute problematic bacteria and nutrients to nearby waterways. By fencing your livestock out of streams and properly composting manure you can reap the benefits of this natural fertilizer without negatively impacting water quality. For more information on livestock exclusion fencing and manure management contact the Cascadia Conservation District at (509)664-9370 or visit

Pick up after your pets. Dogs and other pets produce waste with lots of toxic bacteria. If that bacteria gets into the water, the water becomes increasingly unsafe to drink for animals and humans.

Next year’s photo contest launches May 1st, 2017 and closes October 1st, 2017.
To learn more about water conservation in our community, look at

~ Ava