Showing posts from February, 2014

Environmental Issues: National Invasive Species Awareness Week

There are so many "National Awareness" days, weeks, and months these days that it is impossible to keep track of them all.  However, National Invasive Species Awareness Week -- February 23rd through the 28th -- brings light to a little-publicized but very important issue with serious environmental and economic repercussions.

What is an Invasive Species? Also called non-native species, these can be plants or animals (both aquatic and terrestrial) that invade habitats and ecosystems, where they out-compete native species for resources, damage ecosystems, and rack up millions or even billions of dollars in economic damage. Often these species have no natural predators in the ecosystems they invade, so they spread and multiply quickly, and are difficult to eradicate.

Invasive species are spread in many different ways: on clothing and hiking boots; vehicles, boat hulls, anchors, and ballast water; home aquarium water dumped into local water bodies, exotic pets that have been set …

Musings: Noise Pollution and the Search for Natural Soundscapes

If you had to venture a guess as to the location of the quietest place in the United States, what would it be?In a desert in the Southwest?On a glacier in Alaska? In the middle of a cornfield in the Midwest? According to the One Square Inch project, the quietest place in the United States in located right here in Washington State’s own Olympic National Park.

The One Square Inch Foundation is dedicated to the preservation of natural spaces from the intrusion of noise pollution, and on Earth Day in 2005 designated the One Square Inch of Silence in Olympic National Park as an example of soundscape management and the benefits of a space devoid of noise pollution. After happily stumbling across a wonderfully written article on this subject by Kathleen Dean Moore, I had to learn more about One Square Inch.What exactly does it mean to be the quietest place in the United States?
It means that all you hear is nature. Marked only by a small red stone 3.2 miles up Hoh River Trail in Olympic Nati…

Environmental Issues: Drought in Washington?

It is unusual for a rainy forecast to be met with a sigh of relief in a region famous for its gray skies; where a “day without rain” is often a rarity to be celebrated. However, that is just the case in the Pacific Northwest today, as heavy rain showers and familiar overcast skies roll back into place in the midst of a winter seriously lacking in precipitation.

While many people have enjoyed the sunny skies and outdoor opportunities offered by the uncharacteristically dry weather so far this winter, there are others who have a different view.Skiers and snowboarders languish as day after day passes without any new snowfall to bolster the woefully thin base on the ski runs, and nature nerds such as myself cast a wary eye at bare mountain slopes in the distance, which should be resplendent in sparkling white at this time of year.
Lack of snowfall in the wintertime can lead to a big problem come summertime: drought. Drought is not normally a concern for our typically rainy region, but in li…

Wanderings: The Snoqualmie Valley Regional Trail

Most people wouldn't consider a January morning shrouded in dense fog with the temperature struggling to push its way above freezing to be the ideal conditions for outdoor activities.  As a person who hates being cold, I would generally include myself in that category with "most people". However, this was the morning of my birthday, and without an opportunity to go for a hike or decent walk since our Deception Pass "First Day Hike," I was feeling a bit starved for some fresh air and natural scenery and was determined to get outdoors. Being an intrepid Pacific Northwesterner and Nature Nerd who is a champion when it comes to dressing in layers, I wasn't going to let some chilly weather scare me off. And besides, being freezing cold after finishing a hike is the perfect excuse for stopping by Starbucks for a hot beverage on your way home... 

For my outdoor birthday adventure, I decided to revisit a trail that I drive past several times a week but haven't…