On May 6th, 2011, Daniel and Ginger Poleschook presented breathtaking photos and unusual stories about Washington loons, providing a history of the loon’s shrinking breeding range and what we can do to help. Their experience as Research and Education Coordinators for the Loon Lake Loon Association and Adjunct Field Scientists for the Biodiversity Research Institute brought many tales and images that humans would otherwise not be privy to.
On April 1st, 2011, WA Department of Fish and Wildlife Aquatic Habitat Engineer, Gina McCoy, provided perspective on the factors that affect stream processes. From “slower is better” water storage effects on watersheds and stream habitat, to the ways in which streams reach equilibrium, awareness of stream processes is the first step toward supporting healthy streams. Understanding channel and floodplain development, channel stability, and the role of wood in streams helps guide the restoration process in degraded streams. Gina also discussed the Myers Creek subwatershed existing conditions and restoration issues.
For the past 17 years, McCoy has provided technical assistance for stream-related projects throughout central Washington. She is currently participating in a project sponsored by the Colville Confederated Tribes to relocate and restore a 3,200 ft section of Bonaparte Creek. She is author of the ‘Stream Processes’ chapter of the Washington State Stream Habitat Restoration Guidelines manual. Prior to her current position, she co-created and managed a watershed-scale restoration project on the Yakama Reservation. McCoy’s graduate studies were in watershed hydrology and landscape ecology. She loves sharing her knowledge of streams with anyone who is interested – and that seems to include just about everyone.
From eagles to hummingbirds, Idie Ulsh explored with us how and where birds make nests, and related interesting facts about their construction. She has photographed the nests of more than 30 species and done an extensive three year perusal of bird nest literature. In addition to her own photos, she included in this unique program photos from many excellent local photographers and University of Puget Sound Slater Museum.
Live birds of prey visited Highland Wonders from the WSU Raptor Club, from the Washington State University campus in Pullman, WA. Volunteers from this non-profit volunteer organization aim to promote wildlife conservation through the use of non-releasable raptors as living representatives in public environmental education programs. These injured raptors helped tell the story of how birds of prey are doing in today’s world and what we can do to help.
Beavers possess remarkable engineering skills, which they combine with unparalleled work ethic to the benefit of streams and wetlands. On January 7th, 2011, this event focused on how beavers create the stream conditions and wetlands needed by an array of other plants and animals. In the process, beavers are sub-irrigating by raising the water table and increasing groundwater recharge in the Okanogan Highlands, making more water available for everybody during the low flows of late summer. Guest speakers who work with beavers in the field shared from their experiences and answered questions about these curious creatures. OHA also shared some exciting updates about the work of beavers on two of our restoration sites.
On November 5th, 2010, George Thornton shared stunning photographs, information and reflections from his wide-ranging experience with unique and rarely seen Okanogan Highland plants. Highlighting the biodiversity and beauty that makes these plants – and our area – extraordinary, this was an evening of discovery.