Tuesday, September 27, 2011

New Beginnings

Greetings! I’m just getting settled into my term as Cascadia’s AmeriCorps intern for the upcoming year.  I am incredibly excited to get to know all the great people at Cascadia, learn about what they do, and hopefully be of help to them too!

I’ve been a Washingtonian all my life, and have been lucky enough to live in several different parts of this beautiful and diverse state.  After graduating college with a degree in Ecology, and a stint of international travel, my partner and I came to Leavenworth last summer, and decided to overwinter there, before moving on.  As summer transformed into a glorious fall, and winter SLOWLY stretched into spring… and then another summer… we found we just couldn’t leave!  I have been absolutely transfixed by the magnificent mountains rising right out of our backyard and the rivers that offer up so many opportunities to experience natural and recreational activities alike.

That’s why I was thrilled when I learned about this AmeriCorps position right here in Wenatchee. I’ve been a follower of Cascadia’s Conservation Quarterly newsletter, and have been intrigued to learn more about this organization, whose focus on working with local communities to foster good stewardship practices I greatly admire.  With a biology background, I feel I have a decent understanding of the science behind- and the importance of- maintaining healthy ecosystems, but haven’t a clue about how conservation agencies go about working with partnering agencies, local landowners and communities to accomplish their mutual goals.  I believe this opportunity will give me the “behind-the-scenes” look I have been waiting for!

And one of my duties here at Cascadia is to write this blog!  So thank you for reading, and please feel free to bring to post any conservation-related questions and comments, or topics you might be curious about; I would love to attempt to address them in upcoming posts!

At the end of her farewell blog, last year’s AmeriCorps volunteer signed off with a phrase I particularly liked.  I hope she won’t mind if I borrow it!

Your friend in conservation,

P.S. Join us at the Wenatchee River Salmon Festival this weekend, October 1st and 2nd, at the Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery!  There will be lots of awesome art, science, cultural, and recreational activities and exhibits. Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Kids and the Environment

In our office, staff members like to share some of the books they are reading with one another. One of our staff members is reading the book, Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv. The book looks at a growing body of research that indicates children need exposure to the natural world in order to develop into healthy adults. The book also includes suggestions for introducing your child to nature and keeping them engaged with nature throughout their lives.
The book sparked interesting conversations throughout the office about how staff members were introduced to the outdoors as children and how, in turn, as parents, aunts, uncles, and grandparents staff members introduced the outdoors to children.
We decided it might be fun to share some activities you can do with a child in your life with the hope they will foster a life-long appreciation for the outdoors and create some great memories!
·         Take play groups to a campground or state/national park. These areas often have interpretive trail signs and an abundance of wildlife.
·         Let kids play in the garden. If you have space let kids have their own section of the garden that they are responsible for. If you don’t have the space for a garden, consider starting a window-sill garden.
·         Take a hike! Taking hikes with your child is also a great learning opportunity. You can point out animal tracks, wildflowers and discuss water safety and trail etiquette. A great resource for hiking with children and babies is http://www.wta.org/kids/children. The website offers helpful tips, suggestions, and reviews. Also, Best Hikes with Kids: Western Washington & the Cascades is a great book for planning hikes as well.
·         Take art supplies outside. Have your child paint, draw and color the natural landscape. It is a great way to stimulate creativity!
·         Create a scavenger hunt. Have your child find things like pine cones, wildflowers, trees, etc. This is a fun activity disguised as a learning opportunity!
·         Visit a farm.
·         Take a walk in the rain.
·         Send away for a butterfly kit.
You can check out Last Child in the Woods by visiting:  http://richardlouv.com/

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Adopt-a-River Program

On Sunday August 21, 2011, Chelan County Natural Resources Department (CCNRD), Chelan Douglas Land Trust (CDLT), Cascadia Conservation District (CCD) and Picture the Wenatchee (PTW) hosted a river clean-up event at several locations.
If you were not able to participate in the event on the 21st, consider hosting your own clean-up as part of the Adopt-a-River program.
What is Adopt-a-River?
Adopt-a-River builds upon the Wenatchee River Clean-up that started in 2009.  The Wenatchee River Clean-up started when a local citizen voiced concern about hazardous metal objects in the river. For two years, the Chelan County Natural Resources Department and Cascadia Conservation District hosted the Wenatchee River Clean-up and over 120 volunteers have floated or walked the river bank and removed 7,000 pounds of metal and trash. 

How can I get involved?
Gather your friends, select a stretch of river, and pick a date to remove garbage.  Adopt-a-River is a great program for families, individuals, businesses, or community groups.  We recommend groups adopt a section of river for two consecutive years then determine if that stretch of river requires additional cleanup. 

Why Adopt-a-River?
The Wenatchee River and its tributaries provide critical habitat for many life stages of Endangered Species Act (ESA) listed endangered spring Chinook, steelhead, threatened bull trout and other key species that depend on good water quality.  Recreational use is very high on the Wenatchee River throughout much of the year with the river being one of the most popular whitewater destinations in Washington State.  Large unnatural debris such as cars or car parts, miscellaneous metal, and everyday trash can be found in the river.  This trash and debris decreases water quality, aesthetic appeal, and poses a safety hazard to recreational users. By adopting a section of river your group can improve water quality for endangered species and help protect a valuable resource to the local community.

Getting Started
  • Form a group
  • Register with Adopt-a-River, contact Matt Shales at matt.shales@co.chelan.wa.us
  • Determine whether your group will float or walk the stream bank.
  • Pick a date  - we recommend dates from late July through October to avoid spring high water levels
  • Make sure you have all the necessary equipment (gloves, garbage bags, first aid kit, etc…).  Chelan County can provide garbage bags and gloves
  • Have a disposal or recycling plan, Chelan County may be able to pick up your garbage.  If we cannot provide this service we can help coordinate with local disposal and recycling services.
  • Conduct the cleanup, have fun, be safe, and be sure to report your results on Chelan County's website.