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.

June 22, 2019 | with Rich Hatfield

OHA’s bumble bee field trip on June 22, 2019 provided community members with an opportunity to learn about the bumble bee species in our area, their importance to our ecosystem, as well as ways we can help conserve them. In an effort to learn more about bumble bees to improve evidence-based bumble bee conservation guidance, the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, in partnership with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Idaho Department of Fish and Game, and the Oregon Bee Project, has launched the Pacific Northwest Bumble Bee Atlas. On a trip around the Okanogan Highlands, Rich Hatfield, Xerces Society conservation biologist, shared information about the Atlas Project, how to participate, and the value that the project will have to our area, both locally, and more regionally. The group conducted a point survey at Lost Lake to help determine the number of bumble bee species living there, along with a rapid habitat survey. More about the survey: www.pnwbumblebeeatlas.org/point-surveys.html

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April 5, 2019 | With Caitlin LaBar

Okanogan County is host to 124 of the 155 butterfly species recorded in Washington. Caitlin spoke about some of the eco-geographical aspects that contribute to this incredible diversity, what species you can expect to commonly find, and some of the more reclusive species to watch for. We also learned how to contribute to ongoing research by photographing and recording data through various methods. Two of Caitlin’s books were available for purchase: Butterflies of the Sinlahekin Wildlife Area and Pocket Guide to the Butterflies of Washington, both of which were used as part of OHA’s 2018 butterfly field trip.

“The Sinlahekin is one of my favorite places, always changing and yielding new discoveries, yet always familiar. In studying what makes it so unique, I’ve explored many parts of the Okanogan…”

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“Soil science & story: Connecting the worlds below & above our feet”

With Luke Cerise | Friday, February 1st

Soil Scientist Luke Cerise returned to the Highland Wonders educational series to build community understanding of the stories hidden beneath the ground in our local soils — and how this understanding can help shape the way we manage our landscapes. Luke discussed soil memory, and how inherent soil characteristics are retained even when dramatic changes happen above ground, which can help us interpret the history of the landscape.

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Mosses are a fascinating part of our world. They operate much like their larger relatives, like trees and shrubs, just on a much smaller scale. On Friday, January 4, 2019, Erica Heinlen shared her expertise to bring the moss world into focus for our community. In this talk, we touched on the taxonomy of mosses as well as their structure and life cycle. We discovered the importance of mosses in our ecosystems and discussed where they grow. We explored concepts of conservation and then saw some special species found here in the Okanogan. Finally, we addressed some of the “Frequently Asked Questions” the audience had about mosses. It was an interesting journey as we unlocked the secrets and strengths of the moss world.

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On Friday, November 2nd, 2018, Dan and Ginger Poleschook returned to the Highland Wonders education series to update our community on how our local loons have fared in the seven years since the Poleschook’s last presentation in Tonasket. They shared stories of our local loons — where they hatched, adventures they have experienced, obstacles they have overcome, and which loons at which lakes are related to each other. Some stories reflected loons as being highly intelligent, beyond their basic survival skills and genetic influences, and provided examples of loons having long-term memories of places and people. We learned ways in which people have helped loons survive, and what we can do to increase and protect future populations of the common loon.

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Butterflies are the quintessential symbol of renewal through change. In a world that is rapidly changing, the Highland Wonders educational series provides opportunities for our community to learn more about the natural world, with the hope that these experiences may renew our enthusiasm to take care of the rich biodiversity around us. 

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Things seem to be changing in the West – snowpack levels are lower than they used to be, and the snowpack melts earlier in spring. Fire seasons are longer and more severe. Megafires, wildfires over 100,000 acres, now occur more often, causing wide-ranging impact on homes, communities, and wildlands. These changes are expected to continue, and we need to increase the fire resiliency of our wildlands, while also completing defensible space work around homes and communities.

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