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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with Jack Massie
An indoor/outdoor combo opportunity: April/May 2017

Lichens appear as an entire organism but are actually composed of two or more very different partners — they truly are peculiar, efficient, and wondrous. Often misunderstood, the lichen field trip will provide an up-close look at these incredible life forms and how they function.

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Are you curious about the native plants growing around you? “What is this species, and what do I need to know about it?” On Sept. 26, 2014, OHA invited the community to bring photos and/or samples to our “Evening with the Experts,” event, along with observations about the plant. Community members were encouraged to bring digital photos on USB flash drives, SD memory cards, or email in advance to julie@okanoganhighlands.org. The event was open to everyone, whether they brought in a mystery plant or not. There were plenty of examples available for everyone to learn from.

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Okanogan Highlands Alliance sponsored a new kind of educational event called, “Viva la Naturaleza,” in partnership with the Tonasket School Garden, Tonasket High School MEChA Club, Tonasket School District, Tonasket Migrant PAC, AmeriCorps/VISTA, Team Naturaleza, and the Viva la Naturaleza Student Leadership Team.

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For those who missed the September 2013 grassland learning experience or needed an opportunity to reinforce the concepts from the event, OHA was thrilled to announce the return of one of the region’s premier grass experts, Don Gayton. Last September, Don’s Highland Wonders presentation and field trip were filled to capacity, and OHA received requests to offer an indoor presentation to a larger group. The March event was a great opportunity for those who were not able to participate in the previous grassland learning experience, as well as a chance for those who attended to reinforce the concepts that had been presented, and develop a deeper understanding.

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This Highland Wonders event provided an opportunity to learn from one of the region’s premier grass experts, Don Gayton, who discussed our local grassland ecology and grass plant identification. Community members did not have to be botanists to enjoy this two-part indoor/outdoor event, as everyone from the greenhorn to the conversant could get something from Don’s wealth of knowledge. Topics covered included grassland types, invasive plants, grazing and fire interactions, and simplified methods of identifying grasses.

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From the Panorama to the Patch: How do People Fit?

Renowned forest ecologist, Herb Hammond, kicked off the Summer 2013 Highland Wonders series with a unique perspective on Okanogan Highlands ecology. “Seeing the Forest Among the Trees,” featured a Friday evening presentation with a Saturday outdoor field trip the following day. This two-part approach provided the best of both venues for maximum learning and enjoyment.

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On July 7, 2012, local botanist George Thornton lead a group of community members into a seldom seen Western Red Cedar ecosystem near Chesaw, WA. Mr. Thornton opened the first Highland Wonders series in November 2010 by sharing his knowledge and photos of unique and rarely seen Okanogan Highland plants; in the summer of 2011, he led a walk along the wetland fringe and woods at Lost Lake, and 2012 brought this opportunity to learn more about Okanogan County’s remnant cedar populations. A group of community members ventured Northeast of Buckhorn Mountain, where an extraordinary ecosystem thrives because of the shade, stable soils, organic matter and habitat provided by the Western Red Cedar.

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