forest

Changing Our Forests from Top to Bottom

Written & Photographed by Zoe van Duivenbode, Marketing Intern

From bumpy off-roading trails and peaceful stream to exciting wildlife views and forestry education, our trip to The Nature Conservancy’s Manastash-Taneum preserve was nothing short of an adventure. Earlier this week, a group of TNC staff traveled to Cle Elum to learn more about the complex challenges centered around eastern cascade forests, headwaters and communities. This regions checkerboard like landscape, in terms of ownership and management, is slowly transforming into a more unified region for public access and conservation. Under the Tapash Sustainable Forest Collaborative, TNC is partnered with private, state and tribal groups to ensure that these forested lands can be enjoyed by the public and also preserved for wildlife. 

Our tour began with a panoramic view that overlooked valleys of densely forested hills with residential communities, Cle Elum Ridge and lake Cle Elum seen in the distance. This viewpoint painted the perfect portrait of some of the challenges TNC faces when planning for restoration and resiliency. Below we could see urban areas vulnerable to forest fires, critical habitat for endangered and threatened fish and wildlife and recreational trails for mountain bikes and off-road vehicles. Our Senior Forest Ecologist, Ryan Haugo, spoke about his plan to manage these lands in a way that positively benefits to both nature and people through large landscape restoration.

While driving through the preserve, we passed through areas that were previously effected by a moderate forest fire a few seasons ago. This burned region provided a great example of the difference between healthy and unhealthy forest fires. As we traveled higher in evaluation, we were lucky to spot four adolescent elk roaming in the woods! We stopped to take photos and watch them dash across the dirt road in front of us. After enjoying a nice lunch along a stream, we continued on and drove beside the riparian forest which lead us to open grass meadows. On our last stop of the tour, we hiked down to a river bed where Emily Howe, Aquatic Ecologist, bravely picked up a large crawdad to assess if it was native or non-native to this region. After a long day spent exploring the forests, riverbeds, and scenic views of TNC’s central cascade preserve, I found myself already planning the next time I can come back.

Interested in visiting preserves like this? Check out our upcoming event to Lake Cle Elum!


Mission: Restoration

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Post-fire restoration with the North Central Washington Forest Health Collaborative (NCWFHC)  in partnership with the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest

Written & Photographed by Lloyd McGee, Eastern Washington Forests Program Manager

Last week, we toured “the donut hole,” a 6,000 acre area of forestland the Carlton Complex burn surrounds. The tour participants were the North Central WA Forest Health Collaborative (NCWFHC) and the Methow Valley Ranger District of the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest (OWNF). 

To support the OWNF in the aftermath of the worst fire in Washington’s history – the 250,000 acre Carlton Complex fire – the NCWFHC has been actively working on post-fire restoration in partnership with the OWNF staff by re-packaging the South Summit Restoration Project in which 70% of the landscape was burned just two weeks prior to the implementation of the project. 

The quick response by the NCWFHC and OWNF to this drastically altered landscape was remarkable. The NCWFHC kept the forest service on schedule by taking the lead role in planning the 50,000 acre Mission Restoration Project on the western perimeter of the Carlton Complex fire. 

It was incredible to see the areas which the fire by-passed because of previous forest treatments.

Photos: Cleaning up Foulweather Bluff

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Photography by (1-5) Cameron Karsten & (6-10) Hannah Letinich

Last weekend, hardy volunteers rolled up their sleeves (not literally, it was too blustery for exposed skin!) and cleared out a patch of the invasive weed Yellow Archangel, as well as holly and ivy throughout the preserve.  

All of these plants have been used in ornamental arrangements because of their attractive leaves, however when they are introduced to the forest they become problematic when they outcompete and crowd out native plants.  If left uncontrolled they would eventually take over the entire forest floor, pushing out native plants like salal, huckleberry and salmonberries that native birds and animals rely on! 

Did you know? Yellow Archangel is difficult to control because it can re-sprout from roots left in the ground, so our volunteers took painstaking efforts to follow the underground root system and remove as much of the roots as possible! Because of the hard work of this group of volunteers the native plants at Foulweather Bluff will stand a chance against those noxious invaders!

If you would like to join a work party on one of our preserves in Washington please send an email to wavolutneer@tnc.org for more information.

Ebey’s Landing + Instagram

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By Kiara Serantes, Photography Intern

For as long as I can remember I’ve been absolutely in love with Washington’s nature. From obsessing over hundred-foot coniferous wonders, to towering mountains that split the horizon like a jagged smile, this love of nature led me to intern at the Nature Conservancy over summer.

Recently, I saw it pay off when I was lucky enough to be invited on a field trip with the Conservancy’s Social Media Manager, Don Macanlalay, and nine guests. Those guests are popular photographers from the networking site Instagram, who came on the trip to explore Ebey’s Landing National Reserve, now federal park that used to be one of The Nature Conservancy’s preserves. Our objective was to take photos and inspire fellow users of the site to get out and appreciate Washington nature.

The photographers invited include Griffin Lamb, Samuel Elkins, Caleb & Ariana BabcockAj Ragasa, Forest Eckley, Danny OwensWhitney Moreno and Kristen Smith.                 

When we first pulled into the parking lot of Ebey’s Landing, located on Whidbey Island, I was instantly struck by the serene beauty of the Puget Sound. The water seemed to stretch vastly before me, being met by other faded scenes of seemingly far away land masses. Now, I would not consider myself a photographer, but there at Ebey’s I had suddenly felt the urge to at least try and capture the beauty that was all around me. The inspiration was tangible as the photographers rhythmically dispersed into their own digital narratives.

We began moving up the trail as a scattered group, each individual stopping in random ways to capture photos of the different landscapes and wildlife. Passing a vast field of grain and moving up a hill that stretched suddenly up from the shore (which at times had felt more like a small mountain), the photographers seemed to be able work effortlessly. The wildflowers bloomed vibrantly, coating the hill as if they were warming it from the sometimes heavy coastal winds. It was while on this trail and on this hike (my first experience out hiking since I had been back from my stressful first year of college) when it hit me just how much I had missed the low-stress and completeness of being in nature. 

It’s really easy to get caught up in professional lives; after all, working is necessary for support and certain ambitions. Working is important for many reasons, but just as important is remembering the reason why we go to work each day; it’s important to remember the beauty all around us, and the things and people we love.

As someone who’s lived in Washington State my entire life, it was too easy to overlook the lush beauty and nature all around me. My mind had remained focused on my career goals for so long. Ironically, it was through my own professional life as an intern that I was able to remember just how calming and supportive being in nature can feel.

In an ever technologically growing society, it’s important now more than ever to remember the things we love and reconnect with the now abundant nature. There doesn’t have to be a divide between technology and nature; a divide from work and what you love. So go out and find your own Ebey’s Landing; go out and be inspired to share the nature that exists all around us. At the very least, it will give you a chance to take some really cool pictures!