OHA is kicking off this summer’s season of Highland Wonders with a Weekend Birding Challenge! There are two challenge options. Choose the one that fits you best, or do both! The challenge runs from Saturday, May 30 to Sunday, May 31. Send your results to jen@okanoganhighlands.org by Monday, June 1.

Challenge 1: Keep a list of the bird species that you see in your yard or wherever you may be. Take pictures if you can! Send your approximate sighting location, species list and pictures by Monday, June 1 to jen@okanoganhighlands.org. An anonymous donor is giving OHA $5 for the first 40 species identified! Let us know if you’d like to add to the pot!


Challenge 2: Build a bird’s nest out of materials that you find in nature and send a picture of your engineering feat to jen@okanoganhighlands.org. For inspiration, check this out: https://nestwatch.org/learn/focal-species/

Cedar Waxwing

Attached below is our “Birding Care Package” with lots of fun resources for watching, listening to and caring for our local birds. Also attached is a tried-and-true bluebird box blueprint, from local bird box expert Dale Swedberg. In the near future we will be assembling bird box kits to distribute to interested community members, and we will also provide a “how to” video for assembly and care of the boxes. Let us know if we can put you on the list to receive a kit! 

Everywhere you look in the Okanogan Highlands you can see evidence of the movement of glaciers. The trick is knowing what to look for! On March 6, CWU geography professor Karl Lillquist used local landscapes and landforms to demonstrate how glaciers and other factors shaped our region during the last glaciation in our area, 12,000-18,000 years ago.

Okanogan Highlands Alliance (OHA) and Okanogan Land Trust (OLT) are excited to be co-hosting three-part series of educational events focused on geology. OHA hosted the first event on Friday, March 6th, when Dr. Karl Lillquist returned to Tonasket for the Highland Wonders presentation. OLT will host the second event at some point in the future, but it has been postponed to protect public health. When we are able to resume public events, Bruce Bjornstad will present as part of the OkaKnowledgy lecture series in Okanogan. The third event, also led by Dr. Lillquist, will take participants on a field trip in the Highlands, hopefully this summer! All three events will highlight the fascinating geological processes shaping our hills and valleys. The indoor events are free and open to all; the field trip will require pre-registration with priority given to OHA and OLT members. Anyone can become a member!

Karl Lillquist
Karl Lillquist shares about the Geology of the Okanogan Highlands during an OHA Highland Wonders tour.

Friday, March 6, Community Cultural Center of Tonasket:
Dr. Lillquist led the audience in “explor[ing] the origins and evolution of landscapes and landforms in the Okanogan Highlands.” He described how the Okanogan Highlands landscape has been sculpted over time by glaciers and other forces. Specifically, he explained how “The Okanogan Highlands, [which is] characterized by rolling uplands, punctuated by a diverse array of valleys…has been shaped by various tectonic, weathering, landslide, stream, glacier, and wind-related processes.“

Dr. Lillquist is a professor in the Geography Department at Central Washington University, and has vast experience exploring and teaching about the geology of our state. His area of expertise is geomorphology, a field focusing on landforms and how they originated. Throughout our three-part series, we hope that you will join us in looking at the Highlands landscape through geologic time — you might never look at our highland hills and valleys the same way again!

Highland Wonders events feature the natural history of the Okanogan Highlands and surrounding areas. OHA offers educational programming on the first Friday of the month from November through April. The presentations, which start at 6:30 pm, are free to the public (donations are welcome), and clock hours are available for educators. The events take place at the Tonasket Community Cultural Center, and dinner is available before the presentations. (meat and vegetarian options available, $10 a plate).

For more info, or to become a member of OHA, visit our support webpage, or contact jen@okanoganhighlands.org (509-429-4399). For more info about OLT, visit: okanoganlandtrust.org.

Chew on this

January 31st at the Merc Playhouse, 7pm

101 S. Glover St, Twisp, WA

An Edu-tainment event about People and Beavers Rebuilding Watershed Resilience …Naturally!

METHOW BEAVER PROJECT & OKANOGAN HIGHLANDS ALLIANCE
are pleased to invite you to join special guests Julie Vanderwal, Ken Bevis, Sandy Vaughn & Sarah Koenigsberg for an evening of music, engagement, joy & learning about people & beavers teaming up for watershed restoration!

For more info www.methowbeaverproject.org
General Admission – Suggested Donation $10

Chew on this

Fifty-six runners age 4 and up gathered at Lost Lake in the Okanogan Highlands on Sunday, June 30, to participate in OHA’s 2nd annual Get Lost! Trail Race event. This year, the fundraiser for OHA offered a 3-mile race in addition to the half-marathon, 7-miler, and free 1k kid’s race.

“A highlight of the day for me was the amazing people,” said AJ Baker, half-marathon winner for the men’s division, “especially considering I was an unfamiliar face to most, I felt so welcomed by everyone involved with the event.” He added, “the course and surrounding area were incredible. I’m glad there are opportunities like this to experience the beauty of the Okanogan!”

“It was a beautiful day,” said Erin VanderStoep, who ran the 7-mile distance. She added: “The sun was shining, the loons were laughing, and the wildflowers were in full bloom on top of Strawberry Mountain; it couldn’t have been a more beautiful course on a more beautiful day.”

A huge thank you to…

  • Our volunteers who helped facilitate the event
  • This year’s sponsors: Tonasket Natural Foods Co-Op, Lee Frank’s Mercantile, North 40 Outfitters, Big 5 Sporting Goods, and REI Co-Op
  • The runners for supporting OHA!

Click here for full results!

Get Lost! 2019 Trail Race results
Saturday, July 13th, 2019
Students use iPads for field monitoring at the Triple Creek restoration site with George Thornton (2016)

Many of us carry smartphones as cameras and for a few of our favorite apps, but are you curious about other apps that might help you explore the natural world?

Learn how to make your phone or tablet into a suite of resources for identifying a wide variety of natural elements, from wildflowers and wildlife to trees and mountain peaks. Participants can choose from our list of apps prior to the event, depending on what aspects of the natural world community members most want to explore. If you have a favorite app you think we should include on our list, email julie@okanoganhighlands.org with your suggestion. See for a full list of

The group will visit a site with a panoramic view of the Pasayten Wilderness, and practice identifying peak names. We will then explore the Lost Lake Wetland and Wildlife Preserve, using apps appropriate for the species we encounter. After the event, participants are encouraged to enjoy Lost Lake with swimming, canoeing, or kayaking, and continued observations of the beautiful and diverse plant and animal species that make the lake and forest their home.

The group will explore plants and animals at Lost Lake using a variety of apps

Due to the nature of the outdoor event, participation is limited, and priority registration is currently being offered for OHA members. A waiting list will be generated on a first-come, first-serve basis. To begin or renew OHA membership and be first in line to register for the summertime events, community members can donate online, or contact OHA for more information. Further details will be provided to those who register for the field trip. To sign up for this event, please email julie@okanoganhighlands.org or call 509-476-2432.

One indicator OHA uses to measure change over time at our restoration sites is the migratory songbird population, using a timed point-count method.

We conduct a point-count bird survey at our Myers Creek mitigation site near Chesaw for one morning in late May or early June. We visit several stations and record which bird species we observe at each — near and far, during two different timeframes. Some interesting species we have seen in past years include the Black-headed Grosbeak, Gray Catbird, Eastern Kingbird, and Clay-colored Sparrow, among many others.

Pre-registration is required, and event details are provided to those who sign up. The survey route covers just under two miles of very uneven terrain with some sidehill hiking and no established trail; please ensure that this kind of activity suits your fitness level and stamina if you wish to participate. There are no restroom facilities onsite, but there is an outdoor toilet available in the town of Chesaw (bring your own TP).

If you bird by ear and/or sight and would like to share your skills, please contact madeline@okanoganhighlands.org. Let us know if you’d like to be invited to other bird surveys in the future, and we’ll be sure you are on our email list!

See below for photos from the annual event at Myers Creek over the years. Thank you to all the volunteers who have contributed to this important effort since 2011! We hope that as the habitat improves, it will be capable of supporting an increasing diversity of bird species! In our 2019 survey, we observed 30 different species!

Runners gathered at Lost Lake in the Okanogan Highlands on Sunday, July 15, 2018, to participate in the first annual Get Lost! Trail Race event. The event was a fundraiser for OHA, and offered half-marathon and 7-mile distances, in addition to a free 1k kid’s race. Twenty-six runners participated in the adult distances, which included varied terrain and ascended Strawberry Mountain for a panoramic view of the highlands.

The women’s 7-mile winner, Stella Crutcher of Tonasket, stated, “This was my first trail race, and the course was mentally and physically challenging to say the least. Whether it be the course’s 850-foot climb within the first 1.5 miles, or the mental challenge of completing the race.” The morning mountain run treated runners to cooler temperatures and wildflowers provided a serene backdrop to the challenging course. “The landscape was very beautiful and it encouraged me to keep on running.” Crutcher explained. The men’s half-marathon winner, Jason Llewellyn of Chesaw, spoke highly of the race, stating, “Running the 1st annual Get Lost trail race was an awesome experience,” later adding, “The volunteers from OHA did an amazing job putting this all together. What an awesome organization to be a part of!”

On Friday, March 24th 2017, OHA celebrated 25 years by hosting a fundraising concert, variety show, and dinner at the Community Cultural Center of Tonasket for the release of OHA’s Highland Voices CD. We enjoyed an evening of delicious locally-sourced food, original music, and appreciation for the people who have been a part of OHA over the years.

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