Written by Lara Gricar, Central Cascades Community Coordinator
Photographed by Brian Mize, Central Cascades Forester
On a rainy winter day in the Central Cascades we began the adventure to find and replace all of the old Plum Creek Timber Company signs scattered across the Cle Elum Ridge. The Nature Conservancy purchased 47, 921 acres of forestland in the Central Cascades from Plum Creek Timber Company in December 2014 to connect, protect and restore the land for people and nature. A little over a year later we are posting signs as a continuation of our efforts to help people understand what land we own, how it can be used, and where to find more information about our work in the Central Cascades.
Brian Mize, Central Cascades Forester, and I took on this task, and let me tell you, it is not always easy to attach a 24 x 18” sign to a tree surrounded by soft snow and deep voids. At lower elevations there was very little snow so it was quite a stark difference as we traversed up and down the land. Thankfully we had our trusty snow machine to stand on when needed!
The best part of the day was when we had the unique opportunity to see a set of cougar (mountain lion) tracks. They were located about a mile east as the crow flies of the Cle Elum-Roslyn schools off SR 903. Several key clues were the larger track size, lack of claw marks which are visible in tracks left by members of the dog family, and the tail drag marks in the snow between prints. I learned that it is really helpful in the field to take a photo of the track next to a familiar object such as a glove so that you have a point of reference to use when evaluating track size.
Alas, after a full day of crisscrossing the land we finished installing all of the new signs on the Cle Elum Ridge. Now, onto the next tract of land!