From North Cascades Institute

Search Chattermarks

North Cascades on Instagram


When the Skagit Floods and Diablo Turns Green

December 1st, 2017 | Posted by in Institute News

In the photo above, WSDOT contractor crews replace washed out riprap to protect and repair State Route 20 along the Skagit River east of Rockport.

WSDOT Word of the Day:

North American
noun: rip-rap
1. loose stone used to form a foundation for a breakwater or other structure.

Have you noticed the washout near Cascadian Farm?

Or the unusual color of Diablo Lake?

Last week the Skagit River rose to a high of 34.69 feet, according to the U.S. Geological Survey gauge in Concrete. The highest levels of flooding since 2006, according to the National Weather Service. Flood level is 28 feet.

What was originally forecasted to be minor flooding became major flooding throughout Skagit County, causing significant property damage and road closures.

» Continue reading When the Skagit Floods and Diablo Turns Green

Sam drawing by Stamati

Alighting the Entire Sky: Happy Thanksgiving!

November 26th, 2013 | Posted by in Graduate M.Ed. Program



All this time

The sun never says to the earth,


“You owe




What happens

With a love like that,

It lights the



–Hafiz, Persian poet, “The Sun Never Says,” 1325-1390

Hafiz is right. There exists a reciprocation in ecology and cosmology that would do us humans well to observe and emulate in all of our daily acts. And like the sun’s energy, the gifts of gratitude cost nothing. Deriving from the Latin gratis, or “free of charge,” it is a democratic emotion, accessible to anyone, anytime, anywhere.

Diablo Sun HaleRadiating from behind Pyramid, offering power in many forms. That ol’ sun just keeps on….goin’. Photo by Samantha Hale.

But perhaps most important, this ability to express gratitude might be one of the best prescriptions in the environmentalist’s medicine chest, providing as it does an antidote to Aldo Leopold’s sagely assertion from 1949’s A Sand County Almanac:

One of the penalties of an ecological education is that one lives alone in a world of wounds. Much of the damage inflicted on land is quite invisible to laymen. An ecologist must either harden his shell and make believe that the consequences of science are none of his business, or he must be the doctor who sees the marks of death in a community that believes itself well and does not want to be told otherwise.

Gratitude won’t magically cure the illness, but a dose can’t help but turbo-charge the immune system. Giving thanks is a gracious counter-balance, as well, to the sense of runaway entitlement that could be argued is at the root of our global environmental destruction. Offering small, constant kindnesses humbles ourselves while honoring the others.

In celebration of tomorrow’s Thanksgiving, then, let’s practice a little gratitude, shall we?

“I’m grateful for the rain, for the cold sunshine and for the blustery days. For the frost in the mornings and the (occasional) clear starry nights. For friendships and family, for candles and lots of food. For the approach of winter and the ever-shortening days. I love it all.” – Ryan Weisberg, graduate student and former Chattermarks editor, Cohort 12

friendsgiving.HaleLots of food! An early “Friendsgiving” potluck by the folks at the Environmental Learning Center. Photo by Samantha Hale.

“I’m grateful for having found this graduate program and this institute and the amazing and little-known national park around it!” – Annabel Connelly, graduate student, Cohort 13

» Continue reading Alighting the Entire Sky: Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving Shopping for the Environmental Learning Center

December 13th, 2011 | Posted by in Institute News

[We are excited to publish the second piece in our Foodshed Series, with monthly updates from the amazing chefs working so hard to provide program participants and staff at the Environmental Learning Center with sustainable, seasonal, and deliciously fresh food. In an age where the production and consumption of food are heavily disconnected, we work hard to preserve those ties by considering how food flows from the farms to our tables and all the processes in between. Purchasing from local farmers allows us to draw connections between their livelihoods and our own while at the same time contributing to our mission to conserve and restore Northwest environments through education. It’s a renewing and rewarding partnership, and one we hope to keep sustaining and growing.]

I would like to introduce myself. I am Shelby Slater, the Chef at the Environmental Learning Center. I was born and raised in Anacortes, Washington and am proud to call the Pacific Northwest my home. One of the privileges I have working for the North Cascades Institute is running our Foodshed program, the largest component of which is working with local sources to supply our food. On my way to work the week of Thanksgiving, I made six stops between Anacortes and the Environmental Learning Center, and would like to share that journey as an anecdote to the success of our foodshed efforts.

» Continue reading Thanksgiving Shopping for the Environmental Learning Center

A Weekend of Warmth and Snow

December 8th, 2011 | Posted by in Life at the Learning Center

Written by North Cascades Education Intern, Matt Kraska.

It’s hard to believe it has already been two weeks since Thanksgiving. As many North Cascades Institute staff said their goodbyes and left to spend Thanksgiving with family and friends, others were saying hello as they arrived at the Environmental Learning Center for the Thanksgiving Family Getaway. Families traveled from a variety of places to spend a few days celebrating and feasting together. In contrast to our fall Mountain School programs that fill the dining hall with 5th-8th grade youth, this event was filled with folks of all ages.

The giant snowman built in the middle of the amphitheatre, a tribute to the winter wonderland of the North Cascades.

The forest around Diablo Lake was blanketed with snow from days earlier, and there was more in the forecast for the weekend. All afternoon on Thanksgiving day the drizzle was on the verge of becoming snow, and soon enough flakes of white began to fall from the once gray sky. For many, this was the first snow of the year. Laughter filled the campus as everyone began catching snowflakes on their tongues, throwing snowballs, and building giant snow people. A little winter weather is sometimes all it takes to bring people together.

» Continue reading A Weekend of Warmth and Snow