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Butterflies and Bee Bowls – Citizen Science in the North Cascades

October 4th, 2012 | Posted by in Field Excursions

Now that it is autumn, I find myself reflecting on all of the incredible Citizen Science opportunities of this past summer season. I remember that with summer came the presence of some of the most beautiful creatures – butterflies! The Cascades Butterfly Project is just one of North Cascades Institute’s numerous Citizen Science projects that are presented in conjunction with North Cascades National Park Complex (NOCA) for individuals interested in assisting in valuable scientific research and giving back to their public lands through volunteer work.

During the height of this past summer, Cascades Butterfly Project volunteers participated in a free training that focused on identification and introduced them to the most common species of butterflies found in the North Cascades. After the initial training, everyone went outside to test some of the field research techniques in order to get comfortable with the process. Then, throughout the summer, happy volunteers were out walking transect lines to collect data at various locations throughout NOCA and Mount Rainier National Park (MORA).

In early August, I had the chance to participate in one of these butterfly field days at Cascade Pass. It just happened to be one of those days in the North Cascades that turns out to be absolutely perfect! Great weather, sunshine, low wind, and, to top it all off, really awesome people. The process of identifying butterflies while they are “on the wing” is actually quite fun, and the butterfly researchers from the Park were able to do it with no problem. There were two groups of us walking a transect line that follows the Sahale Arm Trail, butterfly nets in hand, making an entertaining spectacle of ourselves for fellow hikers! The first group saw 18 butterflies and the second group found 23! Most of them were only identified to species, but that alone can tell us so much.

» Continue reading Butterflies and Bee Bowls – Citizen Science in the North Cascades

Stewardship in the North Cascades: 2012 roundup

September 19th, 2012 | Posted by in Odds & Ends

The following is a report of what North Cascades Institute’s Stewardship Program achieved in 2012. Please help us continue to conserve and restore Northwest environments with your financial support: Every dollar donated to the Institute between now and May 9 can be matched 1:1 through a campaign organized by the Skagit Community Foundation.


President Obama has proclaimed September as National Wilderness Month.  Additionally, National Public Lands Day falls on Saturday, September 29.  In celebration of our nation’s public lands, the North Cascades Institute would like to thank our partners, participants, and volunteers for their hard work, contagious enthusiasm, and willingness to get their hands dirty as they pitched in to help take care of America’s public lands this past season.  We’re fortunate that, in the Pacific Northwest, these lands are within reach wherever we go and are managed by a variety of agencies full of hard-working, compassionate folks.  A big thanks goes out to all of these agencies for working with us this season and providing opportunities for volunteers to engage in stewardship and citizen science projects.

Thank you Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, North Cascades National Park, Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife, and Bellingham Parks and Recreation!

North Cascades Institute volunteers and program participants have been quite busy this season conserving and restoring our local public lands.  Over 1,500 volunteers were engaged in stewardship and citizen science projects this season with North Cascades Institute.  This includes over 600 youth volunteers coming from Mountain School, Cascades Climate Challenge, North Cascades Wild, and Kulshan Creek Neighborhood Program.  Over 3000 hours of stewardship work was completed.  The work included removing over 5 acres of invasive plants, planting 200 native plants, collecting 50 ounces of seed for future re-vegetation, maintaining campsites, removing social trails, monitoring nest boxes and installing signage designating campsites and trail usage.

Although it may seem like the stewardship season is coming to a close, it is only experiencing a seasonal transition.  When Autumn brings us cooler, wet weather Mountain School students will begin to plant Snowberry, Cedar, Sitka Spruce, and Douglas Fir at parks throughout Bellingham.

So, as the wet season arrives, be sure to grab your rain gear and continue to partake in natural adventures and connect with the endless public lands that we own, love, and care for.

Cascade Pass Subalpine Revegetation
Whatcom County Co-op Day of Caring at Native Plant Nursery in Marblemount with Bellingham REI staff preparing aquatic plants for Ross Lake
NC Wild spring day trip preparing the Native Plant Nursery for the summer season
NC Wild removing the invasive specie Burdock at Buster Brown Campground

» Continue reading Stewardship in the North Cascades: 2012 roundup

Changing Lives

September 10th, 2010 | Posted by in Graduate M.Ed. Program

This summer, “Changing Lives” became a rallying slogan for interpreters at the North Cascades National Park Visitor Center in Newhalem.  This phrase reminded us of the impact that a single experience in a national park can have on an individual.  In The National Parks:  America’s Best Idea, National Park Service interpreter Shelton Johnson inspired many, including myself, with a lasting experience in Yellowstone.  Six years ago, an interaction with a ranger in Rocky Mountain National Park changed my life, set me on a course to pursue a career in interpretation, and, through this pursuit, led me to another experience North Cascades National Park that would change my life.

Crossing back into the North Cascades National Park during one of my field days in Stehekin.

During the summer, graduate students at the North Cascades Institute undertake a leadership role, applying the skills and knowledge gained during the residency portion of the program.  The partnership between the North Cascades National Park and North Cascades Institute provided me the opportunity to pilot a new leadership role: an internship with the interpretation team at North Cascades National Park.

One of my first solo backpacking trips during a field day to Desolation Lookout

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