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Free Anniversary Picnic, August 23

July 17th, 2015 | Posted by in Institute News

We’re excited to celebrate that 10th anniversary of the North Cascades Environmental Learning Center and the 25th anniversary of Mountain School with a free party on Diablo Lake! Join us on Sunday, August 23, for a BBQ picnic with local farms, Diablo Lake Boat Tours, campus sustainability tours, canoe voyages, naturalist hikes, family-friendly activities and live music by Jumbled Pie and New Wilderness Project!

Driving directions, shuttle information and more at www.ncascades.org/picnic.

MSConcrete

Local Students Explore their Backyard National Park

April 22nd, 2015 | Posted by in Institute News

by Katie Griffith, Americorps VISTA, Youth Programs Outreach Specialist, North Cascades National Park/North Cascades Institute 

Mist shrouded Diablo Lake’s surrounding peaks as Concrete and Darrington’s school buses drove over Diablo Dam. The overcast weather did not dampen student excitement as fifth grade students from both local schools arrived at North Cascades Institute’s Environmental Learning Center to attend Mountain School within North Cascades National Park Complex. Sixty kids unloaded sleeping bags, backpacks, and boots, well prepared to spend three days exploring the ecosystems of the park.

The residential environmental education program teaches science concepts in an interactive, outdoor setting; glaciers, rivers, and forests surrounding the Learning Center make up the Mountain School classroom. The visiting students participated in the Ecosystems Exploration curriculum, in which students investigate the abiotic and biotic factors that make up North Cascades ecosystems.

“I love science and fishing and it was really cool looking at stuff we collected under a microscope!” said fifth grader Coho about the program.

“We went on a night hike to the dam and it was awesome!” said fifth grader Anya, while Kiawa said “the five mile hike to the waterfall with my friends was the best.”

The trip also included plenty of hiking, locally-sourced meals and a campfire with skits and games.

In 2015, Mountain School is celebrating its 25th birthday! But Mountain School didn’t always happen at the Learning Center on Diablo Lake; for the first fifteen years, Mountain School students camped in tents at Newhalem Campground, an experience some Concrete teachers may remember. In 2005, the North Cascades Institute was thrilled to build the Environmental Learning Center on Diablo Lake as part of the terms of Seattle City Light’s federal hydroelectric license renewal. Since 2005, thousands of students from all over the region have benefited from programs based out of the Learning Center.

MSGroupGraduate student Chelsea Ernst makes observations about a tree with her students

Institute staff members and National Park Service rangers were excited to welcome the most local schools to Mountain School last week. “It was so inspiring to teach such an excited, inquisitive, and observant group of young learners,” said graduate student and Mountain School Instructor Chelsea Ernst. Both Darrington and Concrete Schools participated in the Skagit Watershed Education Project with the Institute from 1994-2004, but this is the first year since the ‘90’s that Concrete has attended Mountain School. Concrete was able to attend with support from Washington’s National Park Fund. Darrington’s fifth graders had never attended a full Mountain School program; they attended with support from North Counties Family Services. North Cascades Institute also prioritizes fundraising to subsidize participation for public schools.

It is “hugely important” for the Institute to work with its most local schools, says Christen Kiser, Mountain School Coordinator. “Connections between their home communities and their experience at Mountain School are much more evident and integrated into their daily lives than students who travel from further away to attend.”

Local students will integrate ecosystems concepts learned at Mountain School into their classes throughout the rest of the year.

For more information about Mountain School and other programs at North Cascades Institute, visit the website or call (360) 854-2599.

SAVE THE DATE! You’re invited to celebrate Mountain School’s 25th anniversary at a free BBQ picnic and open house at the North Cascades Institute’s Environmental Learning Center on August 23. Details can be found here.

This article originally appeared in the Concrete Herald.

GrizzlyBear

Open Houses on Options for Grizzly Bear Restoration

February 19th, 2015 | Posted by in Institute News

**Editor’s Note: sharing this information from our friends at North Cascades National Park.

Public Invited to Open Houses on Options for Grizzly Bear Restoration in North Cascades Ecosystem

 Public comment period open through March 26, 2015


SEDRO WOOLLEY, Wash. – The public is invited to participate in a series of informational open houses regarding restoration of grizzly bears in the North Cascades ecosystem. The meetings are being held by the National Park Service (NPS) and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) as part of the Grizzly Bear Restoration Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) process for the North Cascades ecosystem. This is the first opportunity for public involvement in the EIS.  The purpose of the EIS is to determine whether or not the agencies will take an active role in restoring the grizzly bear to the North Cascades Ecosystem.

The public open houses will be held at these locations and times:

Winthrop:      March 3, 5-7:30 pm
Red Barn Upper Meeting Room
51 N. Hwy 20
Winthrop, WA 98862

 

Okanogan:      March 4, 5-7:30 pm
Okanogan PUD Meeting Room
1331 2nd Ave N
Okanogan, WA 98840

 

Wenatchee:   March 5, 6-8:30 pm
Chelan County PUD Auditorium
327 N. Wenatchee Ave.
Wenatchee, WA 98801

 

Cle Elum:       March 9, 5-7:30 pm
Putnam Centennial Center Meeting Room
719 East 3rd Street
Cle Elum, WA 98922

 

Seattle:            March 10, 5-7:30 pm
Seattle Pacific University Bertona Classroom 1
103 West Bertona
Seattle, WA 98119

 

Bellingham:    March 11, 5-7:30 pm
Bellingham Central Library Lecture Room
210 Central Avenue
Bellingham, WA 98227

In addition to these open houses, the public is invited to submit written comments at this link. Comments may also be submitted through March 26, 2015, via regular mail or hand delivery at: Superintendent’s Office, North Cascades National Park Service Complex, 810 State Route 20, Sedro Woolley, WA 98284.

“This is an important phase in the process of assessing environmental impacts,” said NPS Pacific West Regional Director Chris Lehnertz. “Public comment at this stage is critical to ensure that all issues are considered.”

The FWS listed the grizzly bear as a threatened species in the lower 48 United States in 1975. The species was listed as endangered by the state of Washington in 1980.

“The Grizzly Bear Recovery Plan calls on us to fully consider the restoration of the grizzly bear in the North Cascades, and this process will ensure we solicit the public for their input before putting any plan into action,” said FWS Pacific Regional Director Robyn Thorson. “We will continue to work with our partners to make this an open and transparent process.”

The North Cascades ecosystem encompasses 9,800 square miles in the United States and another 3,800 square miles in British Columbia, Canada.  The United States portion of the ecosystem includes North Cascades National Park, Ross Lake National Recreation Area, Lake Chelan National Recreation Area, Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, and Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.

A few grizzly bears have recently been sighted in the Canadian part of the ecosystem, but no grizzly bears have been sighted in the United States portion for several years.

Get married in the heart of the North Cascades!

January 16th, 2015 | Posted by in Institute News

By Andriana Fletcher, Group Rentals Coordinator

Imagine mountains high above you while standing on the wooded shores of the glacial blue Diablo Lake. The warm sun setting and your family and friends surrounding you as you say, “I do” in the heart of the North Cascades.

Sarah and Andrew Chaplin’s wedding weekend took place on Aug. 8-10, 2014. Photo by Paul Joseph Brown.
 

 At the Environmental Learning Center, you can host your very own green wedding. We offer an all inclusive venue that includes lodging, custom homemade meals featuring local foods from the Skagit and Methow valleys, guided naturalist activities, as well as an onsite coordinator to help you plan your special wedding weekend.

We offer guided big canoe trips on Diablo Lake. We have two big canoes for 16-20 guests. Photo courtesy of Dan Weber

We offer guided big canoe trips on Diablo Lake. We have two big canoes for 16-20 guests. Photo by Dan Weber.
 

Weddings at the Environmental Learning Center are ideal if you and your significant other are looking for a destination venue for your guests to relax, enjoy and experience. Surrounded by old growth forests and the vibrant turquoise Diablo Lake, you and your guests can explore the beauty of the North Cascades during your stay by hiking along one of the series of trails connected to our campus or by getting in a big canoe that fits 20 of your guests to see incredible views of mountain peaks.

We host weddings with a maximum of 86 guests. Our friendly and courteous staff will help from start to finish as well as educate guests about the local landscape. Our onsite chefs create delicious, gorgeous meals with fresh ingredients and the best part: you get to work directly with our head chef to make sure you get the custom meal you want at your wedding.

View a slideshow and learn more at www.ncascades.org/weddings or take a look at the digital copy of the 2015 Seattle Bride Resource Guide, featuring the Environmental Learning Center!

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Rebbeca Sudduth and Dan Weber were married at the Learning Center Aug. 22-24, 2014. Photo by Teri J. Pieper.

 

The Environmental Learning Center provides the location, lodging, food, staffing and support you’ll need for your wedding. Other items provided are:

  • Bed and bath linens for you and your guests
  • Exclusive use of classroom space for setup and storage
  • An optional guided naturalist hike
  • Onsite host to make sure your needs are met

Our onsite chefs make sure you experience incredible fresh flavors during your wedding.  Photo courtesy of Teri J. Pieper (http://teripieper.com/)

Our onsite chefs make sure you experience incredible fresh flavors during your wedding. Photo by Teri J. Pieper.

 

Interested in getting married at the Learning Center? Here are the dates available for 2015:

  • September 4-6
  • September 11-13
  • September 18-20

Summer is the perfect time for an outdoor wedding! Our amphitheater and outdoor spaces are perfect locations for all your friends and family gather for your ceremony.  Photo courtesy of Paul Joseph Brown

Summer is the perfect time for an outdoor wedding! Our amphitheater and outdoor spaces are perfect locations for all your friends and family gather for your ceremony. Photo by Paul Joseph Brown.

If you have another date in mind, don’t hesitate to ask! Feel free to contact our Group Program Coordinator, Andriana Fletcher, with any questions: andriana_fletcher@ncascades.org or 206-526.2565.

See you in the North Cascades!

 Top photo by Don Tredinnick.

2015 Classes & Family Getaways, Holiday Gift Certificates

December 1st, 2014 | Posted by in Institute News

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North Cascades Institute is excited to announce new Winter and Spring Field Excursions just posted to our website and open for registration:

Dec 6: Salmon and Eagles of the Skagit with Libby Mills
Jan 17: Salmon on the Nooksack with Brady Green
Feb 8: Birding Blaine, Birch Bay and Semiahmoo with Joe Meche
Feb 21: Birding the Greater Skagit Delta with Libby Mills
Feb 22: Winter Tracking Snowshoe Excursion with David Moskowitz
April 3: Ross Lake: Exploring the Draw Down by Canoe with John Reidel

Class descriptions, pricing and registration at www.ncascades.org/get_outside or (360) 854-2599.

We’ve also posted and opened for registration Family Getaways 2015, earlier than ever before! Plan ahead and choose your weekend for an epic family adventure at the North Cascades Environmental Learning Center on Diablo Lake in the heart of North Cascades National Park.

July 3-5, 2015 July 17-19, 2015 | July 24-26, 2015 August 14-16, 2015 | August 28-30, 2015 

Information and registration at www.ncascades.org/family.

11_24GIFTCERTIFICATE

Tis the season! Once again we are offering our annual Extended Value holiday gift certificate promotion, where you can purchase $100 value towards 2015 Institute programs for only $80! Purchase before Dec. 22 and we’ll include a package of our blank note cards featuring art from Molly Hashimoto, John Cole and other Northwest artists. It’s okay to gift yourself and there is no limit on how many gift certificates you can buy!

Purchase by calling (360) 854-2599 or emailing nci@ncascades.org.

Wild Nearby book cover

The North Cascades: Finding Beauty and Renewal in the Wild Nearby

October 15th, 2014 | Posted by in Institute News

We’re excited to introduce you to a new book that explores the natural and cultural history of the North Cascades in lyrical words, informative maps and awesome photographs: The North Cascades: Finding Beauty and Renewal in the Wild Nearby, by Braided River, a conservation imprint of Mountaineers Books. We are celebrating with several book launch presentations in and around Cascadia: Seattle, the Methow Valley, Everett, Leavenworth, Bellingham and at the Learning Center, with more events to come over the fall and winter!

Dietrich Romano Martin

In its colorful pages, Pulitzer Prize–winning author William Dietrich takes an imaginary hike through the region, explaining the rich natural and cultural history of the region while also examining future challenges facing this remote yet accessible ecosystem; Christian Martin profiles local folks who live, paint, write, study, recreate and educate in the North Cascades, including Fred Beckey, Saul Weisberg, Libby Mills, Bill Gaines, Molly Hashimoto and Ana Maria Spagna; prolific guidebook author Craig Romano offers routes to getting out and exploring the region, detailing day hikes, bicycle rides, paddling expeditions, ski outings, and car-camping options on both sides of the border. Other elements of this one-of-a-kind book include excerpts from Gary Snyder’s 1957 fire lookout journal, an inspirational foreword by Richard Louv, essays on native peoples, early explorers and pioneers of the North Cascades, a detailed conservation timeline and bibliography, lots of maps and — last but certainly not least — inspiring color photographs by the likes of Steph Abegg, Paul Bannick, Benj Drummond, John Scurlock, Andy Porter, John D’Onofrio, Brett Baunton, Paul Bannick, Ethan Welty and Art Wolfe and many other leading nature photographers.

October 10: The Mountaineers Program Center, Magnuson Park, Seattle

October 11-12: North Cascades Environmental Learning Center, Diablo Lake

October 15: Henry M. Jackson Wilderness Auditorium, Everett Community College, Everett

November 4: Twisp River Pub, Methow Valley

November 5: Skagit Station, Mt. Vernon

November 6: Syre Center, Whatcom Community College, Bellingham

November 7: Wenatchee River Institute, Leavenworth


Ticket prices and times vary; please visit ncascades.org/wildnearby or call (360) 854-2599 for details.

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Baker Lake cleanup, by canoe!

October 8th, 2014 | Posted by in Institute News

Join North Cascades Institute, RE Sources for Sustainable Communities North Sound Baykeeper Team and the United States Forest Service for an annual trash cleanup at Baker Lake on Sunday, October 12, from 9 am-5 pm.

Past cleanups have collected inflatable mattresses, beverage containers, busted lawn chairs, towels, coolers, fishing gear and poles.

“North Cascades Institute is supporting this event with volunteers and canoes because, as an environmental education organization, we value our public lands and our ability to bring people to places like Baker Lake for education and outdoor experiences. It’s our classroom! Stewardship is a powerful tool to connect folks to the natural world. A clean up like this has really tangible results and people can feel good about what they have done,” said Katie Roloson, Program Manager at the Institute.

Registration is required and a number of canoes will be supplied on a first come, first served basis. People who own canoes are encouraged to bring them and are also asked to register. No experience required.

Registration for Whatcom County residents: contact Lee First at RE Sources at leef@re-sources.org or (360) 733 8307.

Registration for Skagit County residents: contact Katie Roloson, North Cascades Institute, at katie_roloson@ncascades.org or (206-526-2564).