Thursday, December 27, 2012

Native Grasses Coming to Wenatchee

 A few weeks ago Cascadia Conservation District, with help from U.S Fish and Wildlife, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Chelan County Public Works, and Intermountain AmeriCorps, worked on a project to restore native grasses right here in Wenatchee. Due to recent road work, an area of land near the local U.S. Forest Service building was missing essential ground cover. We pitched in to do our part by reseeding the area with a native grass blend donated by U.S. Fish and Wildlife. Establishing ground cover is important for a variety of reasons and is especially beneficial when it is native.

In general, grasses help prevent erosion as well as excess water runoff. However, native grasses provide these same basic conservation benefits as well as a few others. Seeding with a native grass mix prevents non-native (invasive) species from establishing. If this site had been left unseeded it is very likely that the next few growing seasons would have seen quite a few unwanted weeds popping up. Noxious weeds harm wildlife by depriving them of the habitat they need and are accustomed to. Native grasses are also adapted to their environment, which means they generally don’t need additional watering or other maintenance making them not only more environmentally friendly, but economically friendly as well.

Intermountain AmeriCorps members come
out on Saturday to help seed.

The seeding project took place on a Saturday in early December just before the ground froze. AmeriCorps volunteers weren’t shy to get to work by raking the project site, broadcast seeding, and lightly-compacting the newly seeded soil.  The grasses should start to sprout up in the spring and, once established, will look much nicer than the gravely, dusty, barren state that this site was previously in. We’d like to thank everyone who helped out with this project, especially Kay, Jim, Christy, and Maria, who donated their time and energy to make this project happen.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Winter is Here!

Bob Burrows - Misty Mountains View

The Winter Solstice is the shortest day of the year and the official start of the winter season. Throughout history, its significance has varied from culture to culture and place to place. Stonehenge, that strange assortment of giant rocks, may have been a calendar. The winter solstice sunset aligns visually through the British structure and was possibly used to mark the New Year.  For many, the shortening nights and returning sun symbolized rebirth and fresh starts. Although the days will now start to grow longer, we’ll still have a few months of the coldest weather of the year before we really warm up. So what does winter mean to you? Is it time to head up to the slopes and get back to skiing, or will you be cooped up inside hibernating through the season. Maybe the Solstice is a reminder that Christmas is almost here, and you really need to finish up your holiday shopping! Are you fretting over the prospects of the slushy slippery roads, or excited about the possibility of an exponential growth in the population of… snowmen. Whatever your plans are this season it’s important to stay safe.

Jessie Cook - Let it Snow

Around this time last year we talked about winterization and winter safety.  If you’re like me and new to Washington’s winters, I encourage you to go back and take a look at these valuable tips. If not already evident by the power outages caused by recent storms in the Lake Wenatchee/Plain area, winter can be a precarious time and it’s important to be prepared.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

High Tunnels: A Great Way to Grow

What if there was a device that could not only extend your crop’s growing season into the colder months, but could also produce more crops and even crops of different varieties? What if someone would help you pay for one of these miraculous growing machines? Now you must be dreaming. Or are you?
If snow load is a concern, it's a good idea
to remove the cover until the spring.
Photo courtesy of Amy Hedershot
High tunnels, also known as hoop houses, hoop tunnels, or poly tunnels, are installations that aid in plant growth and production. They function like greenhouses, with the biggest differences being that hoop houses are cheaper, easier and faster to construct. They work by trapping in moisture and heat and thus extending the growing season of plants into colder months when they usually will have gone dormant.  This creates a kind of artificial environment that can foster not only longer growing seasons for plants traditionally grown in our region, but can allow other species that normally might not be able to cope with colder weather conditions. Hoop houses can vary in size.  Smaller, “back yard garden” hoop houses may only be a few square feet while larger farms might utilize designs that are several feet wide by hundreds of feet long. Aside from sheltering crops from cold weather during the winter, another benefit of their construction is their decreased incidence of crop pests, diseases, and disruptive wildlife tribulations.

This new hoop house will be increase
yield in tomato production.
Photo courtesy of Amy Hendershot.
 Currently, the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has funding to help with the cost of purchasing hoop houses for eligible crop growers within our region. For 2013, NRCS is paying growers around $2.55-$3.06 per square foot (up to 2178 ft2) for the cost of purchasing pre-manufactured high tunnel kits. Due to their simple design, the cost of purchasing and installing one of these kits is generally affordable and with the help of the NRCS, producers can expect to pay less than half of that cost out of pocket. The deadline to apply for funding is December 21, 2012.

To learn more about how you can get funding for a hoop house, contact NRCS Chelan County Resource Conservationist, Amy Hendershot, at (509) 664-9370.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Want to Get Involved?

 A great way to get involved in your community is by volunteering! Volunteering with Cascadia Conservation District is not only a rewarding way to give back to your community and the environment; It’s a great way to learn something new while doing something important with others who share your interest! There are a few volunteer opportunities coming up and we would really appreciate your help.


Upcoming Volunteer Opportunities

Sunday, December 9th 2012, Seeding By the Highway, 10:30am-12:30am, 215 Melody Ln.
-          Help us reseed portions of the ground that were affected by recent road construction with native grass seed.

Wednesday, January 30th 2013, Newsletter Bundling, 5pm-7pm, CCD office
-          Help us ready our Cascadia Quarterly newsletter for mailing
Saturday, February 2nd 2013, Native Planting 101 Workshop, Confluence Technology Center, Wenatchee Learn about pollinators, weeds, landscaping, and more at this FREE workshop.

If you would like to learn more about any of these events, contact our office at (509) 664-9370 or email us at
To sign up for our volunteer events mailing list or to RSVP for future volunteer events, visit our Volunteer Opporunities page.

Other Upcoming Events

Winter Life Snowshoe Tours (Registration now open!)
-          Friends of Northwest Hatcheries is sponsoring FREE guided Snowshoe tours along the Icicle Trail at Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery.
-          Tours will begin on Friday January 4th and will follow this schedule:
o   Fridays – 1pm
o   Saturdays – 10am, 1pm
o   Sundays – 1pm
-          Tours are available for anyone ages 8 and up. No experience is required and snowshoes are provided.
-          For more information or to register visit Friends of Northwest Hatcheries 
Free Community Movie Series
-          Cascade Columbia Fisheries Enhancement Group (CCFEG) has sponsored a free educational movie series that is open to the public! CCFEG will be partnering with local venues in Leavenworth, Wenatchee, Twisp, and Tonasket to hold these events. The subject matter of the films includes salmon restoration, the Grand Coulee dam, and a controversial mine that is proposed to be built in Bristol Bay, Alaska. All events will include speakers and discussions on topics related to the films, local watershed issues, and projects that CCFEG is conducting in the region.
-          Check out the Movie Schedule (PDF) 
-          For additional information about this free movie series visit or contact Sean Koester