Connecting with Nature

Archives

Posts Tagged ‘hiking’

Pause to meet the pollinators

Tagged: , , ,

July 7, 2011, Connecting With Nature, NCW Greenways
by Nancy Warner

The warm summer days and evenings ahead provide ample opportunities to slow down, take a closer look and get acquainted with the bumblebees, moths, butterflies and other insects that visit and pollinate the flowers of our region. Going on a walk with an expert is always a great way to start the introductions. Check out the summer offerings of guided hikes on below. But, unlike the days of Linnaeus when access to scientific information was scant, there are many resources available today to help anyone get to know these beautiful and fascinating creatures.

Here are just a few to check out:
To see the range of bright and colorful patterns used to distinguish the native bumblebees in our region visit the online key on The Methow Naturalist website, methownaturalist.com. There are at least 18 different species here.

The Xerces Society (xerces.org) and the Pollinator Partnership (pollinator.org) also provide publications, guides and fact sheets that help people identify and conserve pollinators and their habitat.

Learn about basic butterfly biology, butterflies in your area, and butterfly gardening at the Butterfly Conservation Initiative website, butterflyrecovery.org. For a good field guide, see Robert Michael Pyle’s The Butterflies of Cascadia.

Participate in a national effort designed to increase our understanding of bee habitat needs in urban areas by monitoring bees in your backyard garden through The Great Sunflower Project (greatsunflower.org).

Some related reading suggestions:
The Forgotten Pollinators, by Stephen L. Buchmann and Gary Paul Nabhan, 1996, Island Press.
The Insect World of J. Henri Fabre, edited by Edwin Way Teale, 1949, Harper & Row Publishers.
The Butterflies of Cascadia, by Robert Michael Pyle, 2002, Seattle Audubon Society.

Area organizations that sponsor nature walks:
Okanogan Highlands Alliance
Okanogan Land Trust
Methow Conservancy
The Methow Naturalist
Chelan Douglas Land Trust
The Nature Conservancy
Barn Beach Reserve
Wenatchee Outdoors
NCW Audubon Society
Native Plant Society

Nancy Warner coordinates the Connecting With Nature program for the Initiative for Rural Innovation & Stewardship (IRIS), a nonprofit group dedicated to fostering sustainable rural communities by connecting people, place and possibility.

Share your summer sightings

Tagged: , , , , , , , ,

July 7, 2011, Connecting With Nature, NCW Greenways
by Nancy Warner

We would like to invite all North Central Washington residents to join the Network of Naturalists and help create a nature journal for the region via our recently expanded Connecting With Nature website (connectingwithnature.org). With grant support from the “Connecting People With Nature” program of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, IRIS created this website where you can record your observations and post photos of plants, animals, weather and other phenomena that mark the seasonal rhythms of our region. Submit entries on your own or team up with a friend or family member. This is good and affordable family fun!

All nature observations are welcome — from notes on the familiar birds and insects you see in your backyard and garden to the new and sometimes breathtaking observations you make while exploring the wilds of our region. Help track seasonal changes and patterns by noting when and where you see insects around huckleberry flowers and those huckleberries ripening, along with salmon spawning, and chanterelle mushrooms popping up. Note the first strings of geese you see heading south and when the leaves begin to change color in the fall. We’ll highlight your contributions in The Wenatchee World and suggest others to track. Together, these observations will chronicle trends and changes and provide a legacy for future generations to build upon.

To join the Network of Naturalists, begin recording your observations in the regional nature journal at connectingwithnature.org. For more information, call Nancy Warner at 881-1812.

Nancy Warner coordinates the Connecting With Nature program for the Initiative for Rural Innovation & Stewardship (IRIS), a non-profit group dedicated to fostering sustainable rural communities by connecting people, place and possibility.

Wildflower Resources

Tagged: , , , , ,

Susan Ballinger’s suggestions for resources that can help in your wildflower explorations.

April is a great month to explore our region’s shrub-steppe to see blooming wildflowers. A first step is to identify lands and trails that are open to the public. For the Wenatchee Foothills Trails, visit the Chelan-Douglas Land Trust (CDLT) website for a trail map. Or, stop by a local Forest Service or Bureau of Land Management office to get maps and hike suggestions from their friendly front-office staff. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife offers a great publication, North Central Washington: Wildlife Viewing Map for Highway 97 that identifies 36 public land sites between Ellensburg and Oroville for watching wildlife and often, wildflowers. The Wenatchee Outdoors website offers 9 local hike ideas in their guidebook under ‘Nature-Flower-Birds.

Once you pick a location, it is nice to take along a list of wildflowers documented at that site. The Washington State Native Plant Society (WNPS) offers native plant lists by county with 41 for Chelan, 8 for Douglas, and 32 for Okanogan county. A fun way to study-up at home before venturing into the field is to use on-line photo identification guides. The University of Washington Burke Museum Herbarium has stunning photographs and detailed descriptions of all Washington plant species. Locally, CDLT offers a localized searchable photo field guide to over 60 of the most common wildflowers in the Wenatchee Foothills.

One of the best ways to learn wildflowers is to go on a guided trip. Across Washington, there are 12 native plant society chapters, including the Wenatchee chapter, and each offers a series of free wildflower walks available to the public, all listed on the state website. Locally, several wildflower walks are offered in mid-May by the Leavenworth Birdfest and by the Chelan-Douglas Land Trust. Plan to take a self-guided tour any day at the native plant demonstration garden located at the Okanogan & Wenatchee National Forests Forest Supervisor’s Office at 215 Melody Lane in Wenatchee. Thirty-two species of native wildflowers and grasses are labeled and easily visible in the artistically designed garden.

It is helpful to have a wildflower photo field guide to carry with you when you hike. Three good options for our region include Northwest Dryland Wildflowers: Sagebrush and Ponderosa (Northwest Wildflowers Series) by Dana Visalli and David Hancock (2005); Sagebrush Country: A Wildflower Sanctuary by Ronald J. Taylor (1992), or Plants of Southern Interior British Columbia and the Inland Northwest by Robert Parish (1996). Request these through the North Central Regional Library or at a local bookstore.

A handy tool to carry in the field is a ten-powered hand lens that allows you to look closely inside flowers. These are available at local orchard supply stores and range from $10-45. Be sure to bring along a camera, pencil and field notebook to gather information to take home to help you identify the species. Sketch a picture of the entire plant, indicate the size, and record the type of soil. Draw a detailed picture of the flower, including the internal parts. Later, use your notes with on-line resources to make a best-guess at identification. Please don’t pick our native plants. Leave them in their habitat to serve as food and shelter for animals, to allow for seed production, and to be lovely flowers for the next visitor to enjoy. To keep from trampling our native plants, stay on designated trails and avoid cutting switchbacks and using shortcuts.

A good way to introduce children to native wildflowers is to take them to “Coyote’s Corner” at the Wenatchee Valley Museum and Cultural Center. An array of pressed plants are displayed in a colorful room painted to represent local habitats. You can download full page coloring sheets of many native wildflowers. Visit the Wenatchee School District website to view several slide shows featuring native wildflowers. These resources are used by teachers to prepare students for their annual 1st grade science field experience hiking in a local shrub-steppe preserve.

Learning about wildflowers is a great way to increase your enjoyment of being outside in our diverse and scenic landscape. Let the bright yellow of blooming balsamroot entice you to get out this month to see the wildflowers!

Here’s a sample of guided walks and natural history programs around our region this spring, all free and open to the public!

Riverside
Okanogan Conservation District invites the public to help plant 10 kinds of common native shrubs along the Johnson Creek banks in Riverside, north of Omak. April 15 and 16. Call for details.
Contact: Jenni Remillard, 422-0855, Ext. 100

Methow Valley
Okanogan chapter of the Washington Native Plant Society offers a series of wildflower walks throughout the region during spring and summer. The walks are led by local experts who like to educate others about plants.
Contact: Sandra Strieby, 997-2576

Leavenworth
The May 12-15 Leavenworth Bird Fest offers bird and wildflower field trips, including a Sauer Mountain walk on May 13 and two Ski Hill walks on May 14. Call after April 29 to reserve your spot as these trips fill quickly.
Contact: Chamber of Commerce, 548-5807

Wenatchee
Wenatchee chapter of the Washington Native Plant Society offers two public wildflower hikes. Call trip leaders for more information. On June 26, Julie Sanderson (662-5261) will lead a 3-mile walk to Clara Lake. On July 2, Ted Alway (548-4384) leads a 4-mile hike to Wedge Mountain.

Chelan-Douglas Land Trust has published a wildflower brochure available at trailhead kiosks at Horse Lake Preserve, Day Drive and the Jacobson Preserve. Visit its website to use a photo identification guide to 60 common plants in the foothills. Contact: Kathy Pevin, 667-9708

Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forests supervisor’s office, 215 Melody Lane. Take a self-guided tour any day at the native plant demonstration garden, where 32 species of native wildflowers and grasses are labeled and easily visible in the artistically designed garden.

Tonasket
Okanogan Highlands Alliance offers an educational class featuring the natural history of the region on May 6. Spring and summer interpretive hikes and restoration work parties will be listed at okanoganhighlands.org/education.
Contact: Julie Ashmore at julie@okanoganhighlands.org

Twisp
Methow Conservancy hosts a First Tuesday Lecture Series, offering a free community lecture, presentation or discussion focused on natural history, ecology or conservation topics.
Contact: Mary Kiesau, 996-2870

IRIS