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Western Red Cedar (Thuja plicata): A story…

July 18th, 2016 | Posted by in Graduate M.Ed. Program

By Ginna Malley Campos, graduate student in the Institute’s 15th cohort.

Long, long ago, when ice and snow covered the land as far as the eye could see, we speckled the landscape. Only a few of us grew here and there.  But soon came a time when the ice  and snow began to retreat. And as it did, ever so slowly, so we followed. Growing along the rich wet soils left behind, we became more and more abundant along the Pacific Northwest.  In some places, we made up to half of all the vegetation in the forest. We grew and we continue to grow, but of course never without giving back!

We gift our sapwood to Black Bear when they roam the forest hungry, waiting for Salmon to arrive. Our saplings we gladly offer to Deer and Elk, whom depend on this for survival.  Our foliage has been home to numerous mosses and lichen. Our shade provides habitat for fern, salal, and devil’s club. We give Earth carbon from Sky by befriending special fungi through our roots.  Forest creatures gift us in return in many, sometimes invisible ways. Salmon travels unimaginable distances bringing the gifts of Ocean deep into the forest.  Bear and Eagle bring their decaying bodies to our feet, and with them we grow stronger and we continue the cycling of all.

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Deep Forest by Ray Troll

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Pelicans and palm trees

September 23rd, 2013 | Posted by in Adventures

I decided to start my summer break right away. Three days after moving back to Bellingham from the North Cascades Environmental Learning Center, I was on an airplane headed to California. My adventure landed me in Santa Cruz at the home of some good friends. While they were “being adults” and working all day, I was free to explore.

My first evening there, the three of us walked the two blocks from their house to the beach. Win! Monteray Bay stretched out to the horizon, the water a slightly darker shade of blue than the sky. Fog was starting to come in from across the water. The air was warm but breezy enough to keep it from being too hot.

I remarked that whenever I’m in California it surprises me to see palm trees everywhere. For the most part, the other plants look familiar to me—firs and pines, junipers, leafy shrubs, and an assortment of colorful flowers. But palm trees? They just look so strange.

palm treesPalm trees line the streets and adorn peoples’ front yards. Photo by the author

A flock of birds flew over the water in our direction. I assumed they were gulls but as they drew closer I realized that they were definitely something else. “Pelicans,” one of my friends commented. Of course! I thought. Their long bills gave it away, but I had never seen them outside of the few times I was in Florida as a kid so I hadn’t expected to see them here.

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Road Trip: The Olympic Peninsula

July 15th, 2010 | Posted by in Adventures

As much as we love North Cascadian landscapes — and with over 7,000,000 acres of protected public lands in Washington and British Columbia, there will never be an end to options for explorations — we here at the Institute are still called to visit and experience other amazing places on our planet. We’ll publish accounts of some of the places NCI staff and graduate students visit in our Road Trip series

My first 2010 trip away from the Salish Sea occured in May when I caught the Keystone Ferry for Port Townsend and spent a solo week in Olympic National Park, hiking, paddling and observing the emerging lushness of spring.

My first destination was Lake Ozette in the far northwestern corner of the state. I posted up at a nearly-empty campground on the northshore, dropped my sea kayak on to the lake and paddled a couple of hours south to a remote backcountry campsite at Erickson’s Bay. I was lucky to have decent, stable weather, no wind and Ozette — the third largest lake in the state — all to myself. Trails from the bay, as well as from the northshore campground, wind 3 miles through coastal forests, prairies and the remains of homesteads to the wild Pacific coast, where one can explore tidepools, view sea stacks, observe seabirds and seals and search for migrating grey whales and the famous Wedding Rocks pictographs.

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