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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June 22, 2019 | with Rich Hatfield

OHA’s bumble bee field trip on June 22, 2019 will provide 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 hike in the Okanogan Highlands, Rich Hatfield, Xerces Society conservation biologist, will share 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 will conduct 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

This field trip will connect the community with our native bumble bees and other pollinators and the contributions they make. The event will provide inspiration and a user-friendly method of getting involved in citizen science to make positive strides toward effective conservation.

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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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The Okanogan Highlands Alliance hosted the 1st Annual Get Lost Trail Race at Lost Lake in the Okanogan Highlands! 

Runners gathered at Lost Lake in the Okanogan Highlands on Sunday, July 15, to participate in the first annual Get Lost! Trail Race event.  The event was a fundraiser for the Okanogan Highlands Alliance, a local environmental group, 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!”

Results:

Men’s Half-Marathon

1st Jason Llewellyn, Chesaw
2nd Rob Crandall, Winthrop
3rd Brock Sutton, Tonasket

Women’s Half-Marathon

1st Claire Painter, Omak
Men’s 7-mile
1st Matt Mitchell, Seattle
2nd Carter Timm, Tonasket
3rd Benjamin Cross, Tonasket

Women’s 7-mile

1st Stella Crutcher, Tonasket
2nd Maureen Oscadal, Seattle
3rd Leesa Cushman, Tonasket

Want to Try the Course on Your Own?

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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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