Thursday, March 28, 2013

Plants, Streams, and Fishy Fun

2013 River Clean-up
Sometimes it takes a little team-work to pull that
stuborn piece of garbage from the stream bank.

What a great weekend for volunteering!
We had a few exciting events going on last weekend. A volunteer river clean-up in Peshastin, plant bundling for our annual native plant sale, and even an environmental education “Shrub Steppe Day” put on by Wenatchee Outdoors at the Wenatchee Valley Museum.
On Saturday, I was excited to get our bundling event underway. We’d received our order of native trees and shrubs and they were ready to be sorted through, bundled, and grouped into appropriate orders. Luckily for me, Val and Jeff, a couple of plant bundling pros, came out to help and showed off their expertise. Thanks to their, and a few other volunteers’, help we were able to go through the whole order faster than expected. One of my favorite parts of the event was the opportunity to learn something new that presented itself during bundling. Our motley volunteer crew’s knowledge of native plants and bare root plant care varied so there were plenty of opportunities to learn and teach others. 

2013 River Clean-up
Volunteers found lots of old trash in a variety of shapes and sizes.

On Sunday, Cascadia worked with the Leavenworth Community Fellowship Church in Peshastin to cleanup a section of the Peshastin Creek.  About 20 members of the community church came out to get involved with the cleanup and it couldn’t have gone better. At first glance, the clean-up site contained a few piles of debris that would need to be cleaned up but other than that there didn’t seem to be a whole to do. However, after we all got started cleaning up on the stream bank, we found that there was quite a bit more debris than originally thought.  Ranging from old tires, bottles, pipes, fences, chains, and general garbage, the piles of trash collected from the creek grew… and grew… and grew! By the end of the day we had managed to clean up 570 feet of stream bank and collect 2,120 lbs. of trash and scrap metal. We even saw a mink playing in the water just across the creek. It was gratifying to see wildlife in the exact area we were cleaning up the stream and knowing that they and everyone one else downstream from them would benefit from our work.
2013 River Clean-up
The whole Leavenworth Community Fellowship Church
stream clean-up crew!

Although I wasn’t able to attend “Shrub Steppe Day”, I was able to talk with Sean from Cascade Columbia Fisheries Enhancement Group who was there doing a demonstration dissection of a trout. Cascadia had set up a fish anatomy puzzle right next to Sean’s dissection station so I was interested to find out what kids had learned about fish anatomy. “A lot of kids were going from the fish dissection straight to the fish puzzle. They learned a lot and had never seen the insides of fish” Sean said. “Kids loved learning about how similar fish anatomy is to that of our own, but they found that the coolest part of fish anatomy is the swim bladder (the balloon like organ that can inflate and deflate to change the fish’s buoyancy in the water).”

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The First Day of Spring

Well its official, in spite of the thin layer of white stuff on the ground this morning, it’s now spring! Although it felt like spring came quite a bit early this year, today is the Vernal Equinox. The days have grown longer and nights shorter to the point that they are now approximately the same and winter is officially over. As it continues to warm up outside, we can expect to see the hills turn green, and wildflowers popping up all over the place. If you haven’t already, it’s the perfect time to dust off your hiking shoes and get outside.
I recently took a trip to explore one of our nearby wildlife areas and found myself in awe of the already vibrantly green landscape once there.  Ancient Lakes just outside of Quincy, Washington and is managed by the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife. It was a relatively short (no more than a few miles) and mostly flat walk from the trailhead to the lake where a frozen waterfall has now thawed and is pouring into the lake. If you’re looking for a spot to take in some of the early spring scenery this is a great place to visit. Its state owned land so make sure to bring your Discover pass. If you’re looking to do some hiking a little closer to town, check out Saddle Rock or Jacobson Preserve. April 1st, the Chelan Douglas Land Trust will open all trails (CDLT trails north of 5th street are currently closed).
If you’re not ready to hit the trails just yet but want to get involved with some outdoor volunteer opportunities, we’ve got an exciting weekend coming up! On Saturday, March 23rd, we’ll be at the Stemilt Warehouse in Wenatchee bundling Native Plants for our annual Plant Sale. Then on Sunday, We’ll be cleaning up Peshastin Creek at the Leavenworth Community Fellowship, Foursquare Church outside Peshastin. You’re more than welcome to bring your friends and family and join us for either or both of these volunteer events! To find out more info or to RSVP, visit our Volunteer Opportunities page, or call the office: (509) 664-9370

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Earth Day Essay Contest

Here at Cascadia, we have recently launched our 3rd annual Earth Day Essay Contest!  The essay contest is open to students who live or attend school in Chelan County and who are in grades 6-8.  
This year, the essay question is: “Chelan County hosts some of the most beautiful and pristine natural environments in the state of Washington. What is your favorite part of the variety of outdoor natural experiences within the county and why do you think conservation is important?”
When thinking about this essay question and how 6th, 7th, and 8th graders might respond to it I realized that, it may not be the easiest question to answer. 

Last year's essay contest winners had the opputunity to join
in on White-headed Woodpecker surveys with
US Forest Service biologist Janet Millard

With so many great things to do and places to see, how can anybody pick just one as their favorite? I feel particularly disadvantaged when answering this question because; Chelan County is still relatively new to me. I’ve been here for just over half a year, and have had lots of opportunities to get outside and experience the outdoor beauty found here, but I know that there is still so much more! It isn’t often that a person can find themselves a few minutes’ drive from so many different ecosystems. For me, my “favorite part of the variety of outdoor natural experiences” has been, well… just that, the variety of outdoor natural experiences. I’ve been so interested in learning about and discovering all of these new ecosystems that I have not yet been able to constrain myself to just one outdoor activity or one place within the county as being my favorite.
We hope that as students begin to think about this question, they 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 winning essay will be published in the Wenatchee World, and posted on our website and other media outlets. Also, the top three essay writers will get to spend a day “in the field” with a wildlife biologist from Chelan County P.U.D conducting wood duck surveys. This will be an excellent opportunity for students to see science in action and to encourage them to think about potential careers in biology and natural resource management.
The contest will run from March 4th through April 5th, 2013. For more information on how to apply for the essay contest click here. Essay submissions should include an Entry Form along with the essay.