Exploring the outdoors is a passion for Rhonda Miller and Mackenzie Williams, and they’re equally passionate about sharing it with others – which is why they lead the “Shoeshoe with a Ranger” program at Stevens Pass on the Mt. Baker-Snoquamie National Forest.
On weekends through March 31, USDA Forest Service wilderness rangers lead visitors on guided, interpretive hikes, using snowshoes donated by outdoor equipment partner REI. The goal is to introduce new visitors to the forest, and the sport – especially those who may not have the experience, equipment, or confidence to head out into the woods on their own.
“There’s all this public land and we want people to benefit from it,” Williams said. “And we want people to enjoy their forest in a way that’s sustainable and allows them to continue enjoying it for a long time.”
And today, station staff Tweeted that Crystal Mountain ski area, also on the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, received 11 inches of snowfall in the past 24 hours, and that Mt. Baker received an additional 8 inches of snow!
Reminder: If you’re headed to the Cascades, driving through any Pacific Northwest mountains, this season – remember weather conditions in mountain passes and at the summit can be very different than those at lower and coastal elevations, and also conditions further inland!
Long delays while waiting for avalanche conditions or severe weather to clear are common.
Be prepared! Make sure your vehicle has a full tank of fuel, traction tires and chains / traction devices, and warm clothing or blankets in case you find yourself stopped… or stuck.
Fun fact: @mtbakerski has received 436 inches of snow this year! The average annual snowfall is 663 inches. The record, a world record BTW, was 1140 inches back in 1998-99! #K5Winter Join us tonight @KING5Seattle I'm on 6:30, 10 & 11pm – rain/snow mix in the forecast for some! pic.twitter.com/LwWG2gWQxF
In keeping with tradition, the 2018 U.S. Capitol Christmas tree, harvested from the Willamette National Forest’s Sweet Home Ranger District, was lit by the Speaker of the House (with help from Oregon 4th grader Bridgette Harrington) Dec. 6.
“This tree traveled 3,000 miles from Oregon, involving many different people of all ages and all walks of life, with events in many different communities, with celebrations along the way,” Vicki Christiansen, chief of the USDA Forest Service, said.
“Indeed, the entire journey, from the selection of the tree to its arrival in Washington DC reminds us of what we can accomplish if we unite for a common purpose. If we work together to sustain our nation’s forests, we can produce trees like this for generations to come.”
Below is roundup of media coverage as the tree completed it’s journey from Sweet Home, Ore. to Washington D.C., and the tree-lighting event.
The website North American Forest Partnership (NAFP)’s website shares stories from its members, a diverse coalition of forest industry professionals, organizations, and government agencies (including the USDA Forest Service) that focus on relevant, responsible, and innovative efforts for forest management, conservation and sustainable harvesting.
The USDA Forest Service’s Wood Innovation grants are awarded annually invest in research and economic development that expands the wood products and wood energy markets.
From the website:
For more than 90 years, the Freres family has been a steward of Oregon’s forests. With responsibility for more than 17,000 acres in the Pacific Northwest, the family-owned Freres Lumber Company has long been a pioneer in sustainable forest management and manufacturing.
Today, Kyle and his family continue that tradition, blending technology and sustainability to create the building materials of the future: Mass Timber. The same sustainable and renewable wood engineered to replace steel and concrete on a scale not previously possible. #forestproud.
View the video on the #forestproud website, or below:
Northwest Nature Mattersis a new podcast produced by the Oregon Chapter of The Wildlife Society (in partnership with Oregon Wildlife Foundation).
The people of the Pacific Northwest value beautiful natural scenery, clean air and water, and abundant fish and wildlife resources, John Goodell, podcast host and producer, said.
“Conservation is important to us, yet sourcing accurate scientific information can be difficult in this age of polarized content. The goal of the podcast is to serve as an antidote,” he said.
The podcast brings experts together for conversations around scientific information about natural history, conservation, and other natural resource issues here in the Pacific Northwest.
Three episodes at a time will be available online.
In episode 1, Dr. Tom Cade, a conservation biologist and founder of the Peregrine Fund, and Kent Carnie, a retired military intelligence officer and a leader in the North American falconry community, discuss the return of the Peregrine Falcon, which was de-listed from the Endangered Species Act in 1999
In episode 2, Jay Bowerman, a leading Oregon herpetologist and expert on the Oregon Spotted Frog expert, discusses the natural history and conservation of this currently threatened species, whose historical range extends from central Oregon to southern parts of western Washington.
In episode 3, Davia Palmeri, conservation policy coordinator with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, discusses the history of conservation, new challenges, and potential future of legislation regarding wildlife conservation policy in the U.S.
The Washington Trails Association recently re-posted an interview with Yewah Lau, district ranger for Hood Canal Ranger District, on the Olympic National Forest, to highlight their “Thank a Ranger” campaign.
Yewah Lau spoke to the association’s member magazine about diversity, and the values that brought her to a career with the agency, in 2017.
Would you like to show your thanks and appreciation for a forest ranger through WTA? Read the article online at https://www.wta.org/news/signpost/the-changing-face-of-the-national-forest-1, then fill out the “thank you” form at the end of the page to express your thanks and pledge to thank a ranger on the trail during your next forest visit (please note: filling out the form discloses your email address and may result in additional emails from WTA).
From the article:
As the local decision-maker for the happenings on the east side of the peninsula, from Sequim to past Hoodsport and along some of its south side, her role is all-encompassing: recreation, vegetation and wildlife management, working with local staff and specialists to help protect resources, and interacting with and creating opportunities for the public.
Yewah deals with big complex multi-stakeholder issues, working with diverse factions, like elected officials, community groups and local tribes, something that she finds extremely fulfilling…
“I have met women who were the first: the first wildlife biologist in their forest or office, or the first firefighter … I feel like I’m following in their footsteps.”
Ultimately, though, Yewah’s work is driven by an overarching principle:
“Our obligation is to protect natural resources, wildlife and watersheds. We have a mission that is unique and complex because we’re serving the American public and also trying to find the best combination of what all of those values are.”
How does a girl from Bogota, Columbia, who grew up in a city set high in the Andes, fall in love with the ocean and end up working for the Forest Service in Hebo, Ore.?
The Skanner News recently profiled Adriana Morales, a district fisheries biologist for the Siuslaw National Forest, as part of a running series highlighting diversity in the Forest Service, and opportunities in the natural resources career fields.
Morales is passionate about working with partners to restore the Pacific Northwest’s salmon and steelhead habitat, which relies on the clean, cold streams supplied by forest shade and melting mountain snow.
She’s also dedicated to sharing her love of the natural world with others; she frequently conducts bilingual outreach events and opportunities that open outdoor experiences to youth from under-served communities.
From the story:
“We are sharing this planet … and we need to recognize and ensure that conservation, preservation and rational use of natural resources needs have a balance with the interest of the society, and with other animal and plant species, because this is our legacy for future generations,” Morales said.
Northwest News Network reporter Tom Banse explains “torrefaction” in this story about a first-of-it’s-kind facility for converting wood chips into a material that can be used as a substitute fuel in coal-fired power plants.
The facility will be located inside the Malheur Lumber Company mill in John Day, Ore. Wood chips will be supplied from biomass produced by stewardship work on the Malheur National Forest.
A major challenge to the Forest Service ability to coordinate stewardship work is the lack of commercially viable markets for biomass, which includes small-diameter trees and branches of the type removed during fuels reduction and forest thinning projects. The agency contributed financially to the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities, Inc. wood-to-energy grant program, which funds research towards developing new, commercially-viable wood-based biofuels products .
“Essentially, for every major fire that is fought in this country, a small city needs to be set up — often on the edge of the wilderness — to support the effort. It is a huge logistical challenge…”
Oregon Public Radio’s “Think Out Loud” spent a few days this summer in one such “tent city” near Grants Pass, Ore., where USDA Forest Service – Pacific Northwest Incident Management Team 3 was set up, managing firefighting efforts on the Natchez and Klondike Fires on the Rogue River-Siskiyou and Klamath National Forests.
The result is a detailed exploration of life inside a fire camp, with the people who spend their summers supporting wildland firefighters out on the line. (The audio story is nearly a full hour, but its worth the time to listen all the way through).
A thank you note to wildland fire crews working on the Klondike Fire, from a child in Cave Junction, Ore. The note reads: “Thank you firefighters! Keep it up! Know you’re loved! We’re so grateful! Thanks for keeping us safe!” and is signed by “Malin, Age. 10.” Photographed Aug. 11, 2018. USDA Forest Service photo.
“With the Olympic Mountains on its western fringe and the Cascade Range to the east, the Seattle area is at the center of some of the most eye-popping landscape in the United States,” Lornet Turnbull, writes for the Washingon Post: “Several million acres of wilderness lie within an easy drive, and in recent years, the increasingly crowded trails here have also begun to reflect a growing diversity — despite Seattle being one of the least diverse major cities in the country.”
The USDA Forest Service – Pacific Northwest Region is among a diverse coalition of individuals, agencies, non-profits, and private companies working to ensure all Americans enjoy access to the the outdoors, especially on the nation’s national forests and grasslands.
In addition to helping organize and support outdoors experiences with non-profit partners (like Latino Outdoors in Seattle, as referenced in the article), other programs that support improved diversity in access to – and management of – federal lands managed by the agency include the national Every Kid in a Park pass program for 4th graders and families; AmeriCorps paid high school completion, vocational training, and education stipends for young adults; summer jobs performing trails maintenance and stewardship work for high school and college students; and scholarships and research fellowships for students interested in pursuing a land management -related career.