Tag: field trip

Dragonflies and damselflies are often called birdwatchers’ insects. Active and brilliantly colored, these four-winged predators fly everywhere over pristine wetlands. Their very different-looking larvae are dominant predators in the water below. They have the best vision and the most versatile flight of any insects, and their sex life is similarly superlative.

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Luke Cerise, US Forest Service Soil Scientist, hand textures soil in Myers Creek, north of Chesaw, to gauge the clay/silt/sand composition

On June 14th, soil scientist Luke Cerise discussed the soil environment at the Triple Creek site north of Chesaw, on the ground with community members. In this event, we learned about the living layer of the earth, soil; where air, water, minerals, and a vast array of macro and microscopic organisms make life on land possible. Climactic processes (such as freeze-thaw & weathering) have acted upon geologic processes (such as glaciation & volcanism) over billions of years to create sand, silt, and clay that make up what is considered soil.

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Okanogan Highlands Alliance (OHA) provided another extraordinary outdoor learning opportunity: a tour highlighting the geology of the highlands, expanding on what was shared during the past three years’ Highland Wonders geology tours. On Saturday, August 16th, Geology of the Okanogan Highlands, Part IV was led by a team of speakers who each brought a different emphasis. The team was headed by Dr. Karl Lillquist, a professor in the Geography Department and Co-Director of the Resource Management Graduate Program at CWU. He was also an instructor for the Ellensburg Chapter of the Ice Age Floods Institute, and co-led last year’s OHA Geology Tour. Karl has degrees in Geography and Geology, and a special interest in geomorphology, a field of study that focuses on landforms and how they originated.

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On Saturday, July 19th, freshwater ecologist and emeritus professor Dr. Mark Oswood came to share his expertise in the Highland Wonders series. This event aimed to increase our community’s understanding of stream ecology, and how riparian zones and streams interact to support and affect populations of aquatic insects. Connections were made between populations of aquatic insects and what their presence indicates about water quality.

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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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On August 17th, 2013, an extraordinary outdoor Highland Wonders event took place: a tour highlighting the geology of the highlands, expanding on what was shared during the past two years’ geology tours. Geology of the Okanogan Highlands – Part III, was lead by a team of speakers who each brought a different emphasis.

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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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2012 Geology Tour map (click to enlarge)

OHA’s 2012 outdoor Highland Wonders season closed with an all day tour, “Geology of the Okanogan Highlands,” led by Steve Box (USGS), Ralph Dawes (WVC), and Cheryl Dawes (B.S. Geological Sciences). Transported by a school bus, community members stopped in several locations along a loop that spanned the Republic and Toroda Grabens as well as the Okanogan Metamorphic Core Complex. From pictographs to garnets, and from volcanic/granitic faults to the highly unusual Corkscrew Mountain, the group considered a diverse array of features that shape the landscape as we know it.

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On August 6th, 2011, Ralph Dawes led a caravan tour highlighting the geology of the highlands. You can use this webpage to learn about what we saw, or even go on the tour on your own, using the information found here.

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