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Podcast! Eager Beavers S4:E3

…with Alexa Whipple, director of the Methow Beaver Project

Our furry, toothy friends, nature’s flat-tailed engineers, the North American Beaver (Castor canadensis) is native throughout this continent, and once populated our region in great numbers. Over the last two hundred years the fur trade and the general perception that beavers are pests have decimated populations. The future is looking brighter for beavers, however, as people like Alexa Whipple and organizations like the Methow Beaver Project are making great strides in demonstrating the value of beavers for the many ways they support communities, livelihoods, and biodiversity. The life history of beavers and the ways that they change their habitat to meet their own needs also happens to contribute to water conservation, improve water quality, restore and maintain habitat for countless other species, contribute to wildfire resilience, mitigate climate change, and more. As beavers gain more positive attention for their ecological values, policy makers are looking to do their part to change the way beavers are perceived and managed on a Washington State-wide level. Have a listen!

Methow Beaver Project:


This podcast is produced by Okanogan Highlands Alliance. For more information or to support OHA, visit our website:

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Episode Art by Diana Weddle

Podcast! Birdwatching Is For You (Who Me? Yes, You!) S4:E2

…with Alex Feinberg, birdwatcher and software engineer with Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s eBird Program

This episode is inspired, in part, by the Great Backyard Bird Count, a worldwide citizen science effort organized by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the Audubon Society and Birds Canada to observe and record wild birds all over the world. It doesn’t matter what level you are, everyone is welcome and encouraged to join a worldwide community of bird fans and participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count, which takes place mid-February each year. This podcast episode will help you prepare to participate or to take on birding adventures of your own any time of the year!

Over the course of the next 20 minutes, Alex Feinberg, avid birdwatcher and software programmer with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s eBird program, shares his experiences learning to birdwatch, and how the vast and varied bird resources developed by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology can help you learn. By the end you will be ready to let your birding career take flight.

We hope that you are inspired to get outside, watch birds, listen for birds, and join the worldwide community of bird fans, not just for the Great Backyard Bird Count, but for a whole lifetime of birdy adventures!

For more about The Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and to explore their resources, check out their website:

To get involved, check out the Great Backyard Bird Count:

This podcast is produced by Okanogan Highlands Alliance. For more information or to support OHA, visit our website:

Find the Highland Wonders Podcast:

Podcast Art by Martina Graves

Podcast! Grasslands of the Okanogan S4:E1

…with Don Gayton, ecologist and writer

Welcome to Highland Wonders Podcast Season 4!!! We are excited to be back and kicking off the new season with Don Gayton: ecologist, writer, and native grass enthusiast. This episode is sure to push you into the next level of your natural history learning, and to inspire new questions about our native species and ecosystems. At the end, if you are thirsty for more to explore, here are some additional resources to tide you over until you can get back out into the shrub steppe or a highland meadow and see for yourself!

For more about Don Gayton, including his publications and blog, check out his website.

Zoom in and learn more about our native grasses and their distinctive plant parts in Don Gayton’s Grass Identification Primer.

Zoom out with information from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Shrub Steppe page, where you can find an overview, a virtual tour and a short film (by Conservation Northwest and WDFW) about Washington’s Shrub Steppe Habitat. 

Join a citizen science opportunity! Help to catalog the biodiversity of the Okanogan Highlands through iNaturalist, a great (and free) platform for learning that allows you to submit your photos or audio observations for identification and learning. It’s a really fun way to connect with a community of nature observers and learners of all levels, and has real value in building our understanding of the biodiversity of our area so that we can better steward our place. Once you have a username, please join our local projects to help build a repository of knowledge about the species that inhabit this special place. Here are a couple of projects that we recommend:

 Okanogan Highlands Biodiversity Project: Chesaw and Surroundings

Okanogan Highlands Biodiversity Project: Mt Bonaparte and Surroundings

This podcast is produced by Okanogan Highlands Alliance. For more information or to support OHA, visit our website:

Find the Highland Wonders Podcast:

Podcast Art by Martina Graves

Podcast! All About Bears S3:E5

…with Bill Gaines, wildlife biologist and Executive Director of the Washington Conservation Science Institute.

Dr. Bill Gaines has been studying wildlife, including (and especially) bears – both black bears and inland grizzly bears – since the late 1980’s and, wow, has he had some adventures! In this episode, Dr. Gaines shares the experiences and understandings that have come about through his research studies on the ecology, habitat, and population of bears in the North Cascades over the last three decades. 

This episode comes at an opportune time, as this summer (2023), the National Park Service and the US Fish and Wildlife Service is expected to release a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) that includes a response to initial public comments and a range of options for how to proceed with an effort to restore a grizzly bear population to the North Cascades Ecosystem. This DEIS comes with an opportunity for the public to provide input. As always, OHA encourages the public to build their own understanding, and to participate in the public process by providing input to the decision makers when the opportunity arises. Here are some sources to find more information about the process and timeline of the grizzly bear restoration proposal in the North Cascades.

Friends of the North Cascades Grizzly Bear:

National Park Service: 2022 North Cascades Ecosystem Grizzly Bear Restoration Plan/Environmental Impact Statement:

US Fish & Wildlife Service: North Cascades Grizzly Bear Restoration EIS:

Dr. Bill Gaines is the Executive Director of Washington Conservation Science Institute. Learn more about him and his organization at:

This podcast is produced by Okanogan Highlands Alliance. For more information or to support OHA, visit our website:

Find the Highland Wonders Podcast:

Podcast Art by Martina Graves

Podcast! Canada Lynx and Home Range Wildlife Research S3:E4

…with Anna Machowicz, Education Director

Join us for a refreshingly fun episode, full of natural history, scientific research, and the developing story of Home Range Wildlife Research, whose mission is “to advance wildlife conservation by conducting high-quality research, educating aspiring biologists, and engaging local communities.” Anna Machowicz, Home Range Education Director, shares exciting news about field training and volunteer opportunities, and explains how Home Range has begun implementation of a long-term study of Canada Lynx populations in the mountains between the Methow and Okanogan – an area that has been significantly altered by two decades of megafires. In all that they do, Home Range invites community volunteers, students, and academics to participate, leading collaborative investigations of wildlife and working to understand how communities and land managers can support wildlife populations and healthy ecosystems into the future. Check out their website: for more information, and to sign up for training and volunteer opportunities! 

For additional information, check out this recent article about Home Range in the Seattle Times:

This podcast is produced by Okanogan Highlands Alliance. For more information or to support OHA, visit our website:

Find the Highland Wonders Podcast:

Podcast Art by Martina Graves

Podcast! Gifts of the Crow S3: E3

…with John Marzluff

Gifts of the Crow

Dr John Marzluff, professor at the University of Washington’s School of Environmental and Forest Sciences, shares a captivating review of the life history, the anatomy, the culture of corvids, including hilarious and surprising stories of the many ways that these ubiquitous birds both influence and are influenced by people. After listening, we think you might look at your local crows, ravens, magpies and jays with new eyes, and you might even change the way you behave around them! This episode is slightly modified from the original presentation, which took place through OHA’s Highland Wonders Speaker Series in 2016. To learn more about Dr John Marzluff, his work and his research about corvids and other wildlife, visit:

University of Washington’s Avian Conservation Laboratory at:

University of Washington’s School of Environmental and Forest Sciences at:

You can find Dr Marzluff’s books, including Gifts of the Crow: how perception, emotion, and thought allow smart birds to behave like humans (2013) on

To learn more about and support Okanogan Highlands Alliance, visit:

Find the Highland Wonders Podcast:

Podcast Art by Martina Graves

Podcast! The Saga of Washington’s Wildlife S3: E2

…with Ken Bevis, musical accompaniment by Julie Vanderwal

This fast-paced, information-packed, part-spoken musical tour of Washington’s diverse wildlife will inspire awe and excitement (and leave you tappin’ your toes) about the natural history of all of Washington, with special attention to the Okanogan Highlands. Ken Bevis works for the Washington Department of Natural Resources, helping landowners to manage their private forests for habitat and wildlife. 

This podcast was originally presented in 2014 at the Community Cultural Center of Tonasket.

Find the Highland Wonders Podcast:

Podcast Art by Martina Graves

Podcast! Sculpted by Ice S3: E1

…with Karl Lillquist

Kicking off the 3rd season of the Highland Wonders Podcast we are joined by Dr. Karl Lillquist, geography professor from Central Washington University. This summer (June, 2022) Karl led a group of geology enthusiasts on an ice age tour, visiting locations throughout the highlands, from road cuts where deep lake sediments are visible, to eskers and kames, which were formed by stagnant ice, to glacier-carved bedrock hills near Havillah. This podcast hits the highlights, but we expect that after listening you will be excited to learn more, and you are in luck! Dr Lillquist wrote a detailed field guide, complete with a map of our tour locations – if you are in the area, you can take yourself on a tour!

Quick Link to the Field Guide: Field Guide: Landforms and Landscapes of the Okanogan Highlands by Dr Karl Lillquist

Find the Highland Wonders Podcast:

Episode Art by Diana Weddle

A few photos from an ice age field trip through the Okanogan Highlands in June, 2022 with Dr. Karl Lillquist

Podcast! Traditional Ecological Knowledge S2:E6

with Amelia Marchand of the L.I.G.H.T. Foundation

Illustration by Diana Weddle

Amelia Marchand, of the L.I.G.H.T. Foundation, joins OHA to share her experiences and perspectives on traditional knowledge, or teachings, and the role of ecological knowledge within the bigger framework of cultural understanding that has been amassed over a millenia by indigenous peoples. She shares stories of her life and the inspiration that has driven her and her husband, Joaquin, to create the L.I.G.H.T Foundation, whose mission is to cultivate, enrich and perpetuate native plants and the cultural traditions of Pacific Northwest tribes.

To learn more and donate to the L.I.G.H.T. Foundation, visit the website at:

Check out this article by Amelia Marchand, from June 22, 2022: Climate and Cultural Vulnerabilities of Indigenous Elders, published in the Generations Journal of the American Society on Aging.

Additional resources to learn more (list specially curated by Amelia Marchand):

Local Environmental Observer (LEO) Network: an opportunity to learn about (and add your local) unusual environmental, animal and weather events world-wide.

2021 Status of Tribes and Climate Change (STACC) Report produced by The Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals

Guidelines for Considering Traditional Knowledges in Climate Change Initiatives : a practical guide to developing collaborations that honor traditional knowledge and minimize risks to indigenous peoples who might be sharing traditional knowledge. Intended audience: agencies, researchers, tribes and traditional knowledge holders (and valuable information for everyone).

Citing Indigenous Elders and Knowledge Keepers: How to cite oral traditions and ways of knowing in a way that honors and recognizes information shared by indigenous knowledge keepers on a level with written sources.

Find the full theme song, Blessed Unrest, by Tyler Graves on Spotify, Apple Music, or your favorite music platform.

For more information about Okanogan Highlands Alliance, or to become a member or volunteer, visit: or email us at

Season 2 of the Highland Wonders Podcast is supported by Humanities Washington and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Podcast! Beaver Believers: The Next Generation (Part 1)

with Sarah Koenigsberg of Tensegrity Productions

Anna, Nature Detective and Her Beaver Friends, illustration by Diana Weddle

This special episode features many voices! The Tonasket Elementary School 5th Grade teamed up with OHA and Sarah Koenigsberg, who is an award-winning film-maker, educator, and, most importantly, beaver believer, to answer students’ questions about beavers and how they protect water quality, water quantity and healthy wetlands throughout the West.  Before you listen, here is a story from Anna, Nature Detective!

Season 2 of the Highland Wonders Podcast is supported by Humanities Washington and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Anna, Nature Detective

Season 2, Episode 5: Beaver Believers, The Next Generation

Anna is a daring and precocious nature detective. She loves to sing and dance, and make up songs and dances about the things that she observes. Anna LOVES animals (especially the fuzzy ones), and she is the kid who can catch the cat that no one else can. When Anna explores she likes to look at things close up, touch them, peer at them through her Nature Detective hand lens. Sometimes, things that can’t run away suit Anna’s detective style best, but fortunately Anna is also very careful not to hurt anything, and to keep her distance when she comes across wildlife.

One spring day, Anna wakes up singing, “I like oceans and rivers, I like oceans and rivers, and everything that is wet. Even though, I been trying to go, on a mountain road, I can’t stand it. You’re. So. Cute.” Her dad laughs, “What are you singing about, Anna?” Anna looks at her dad sideways, and says “Beavers, dad! Of course.” It is very obvious to Anna. What else could she possibly be singing about?

Her dad nods his head seriously, remembering the beaver lodge they had seen last summer in the Okanogan Highlands. It’s a beautiful day, the sun is warm, the snow is nearly melted, so they decide to go pay the beavers a visit. Up they go, following that long  mountain road to their favorite lake, where they set up a picnic, test the still- frigid water, and watch the birds busily flitting from tree to tree, some building nests. At the end of the day, as the light begins to fade, Anna and her family peer through their binoculars toward the rounded mass of tree branches along the distant side of the lake, and suddenly they see it! A little head, swiftly moving through the water toward the lodge!

Anna’s questions begin.

“Where is that beaver coming from?”

“Was that beaver swimming underwater?”

“Can beavers breathe under water?”

“How many beavers live in that beaver house?”

“How big are beaver babies?”

“What do beavers eat?”

“Are beavers nice?”

“Can I see a beaver close up?”

“How do beavers survive in the winter?”

“How do beavers build those dams?”

The questions go on and on, literally without stopping, for minutes. This beaver has sparked our Nature Detective’s curiosity! Luckily, she is not alone. Recently, the Tonasket Elementary School 5th Grade teamed up with Sarah Koenigsberg, beaver believer, educator and storyteller extraordinaire, to answer many of these same questions!

Join Sarah and the next generation of beaver believers to learn all about beavers, their important role in our highlands ecosystems, and more by listening to the most recent episode of Okanogan Highlands Alliance’s Highland Wonders Podcast. You can find additional episodes and more nature detective stories at or on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you find your podcasts.

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