Sunday, January 29, 2017

Washington Senators and Representatives Positions on Refugee Ban

I feel ashamed. But our leader appears to be shameless. Men and women that at great risk helped our soldiers in Iraq are being denied being unified with their families. We are no longer a beacon of hope. We are now less great.... so sad.

I do feel better about some of the response to the refugee ban by our Washington federal leaders. Responses thus far to Donald Trumps executive order restricting refugee entrance to the United States.

Maria Cantwell opposed

Patty Murray opposed

Jaime Herrera Beutler: So far no statement I could find.

Dan Newhouse via NatalieBrandK5 opposed

Rep. David G. Reichert: So far not statement I could find

Cathy McMorris Rogers via Facebook and KXLY4News in favor

Rick Larsen opposed

Susan Delbene opposed

Pramila Jayapal  and Release-individuals-detained-seatac-airport and Hail-judicial-orders-keeping-immigrants-being-turned-away opposed

Adam Smith opposed

Denny Heck opposed via Twitter:  Difficult to fit in 1 tweet how contrary this EO is to the Constitution & our values. It's just flat wrong. We will fight it.

Derek Kilmer opposed via Facebook:  We must keep Americans safe and secure, which is why we have a rigorous process for evaluating men, women, and children fleeing violence and seeking asylum in America. President Trump's blanket ban of refugees won't help us protect our homeland and goes against what our country stands for. There have been moments in our history where we have let fear stand in the way of what makes our nation great. Whether it was denying entry to Jews fleeing Nazism in Europe, or the internment of Japanese Americans, these moments are correctly judged as shameful exceptions to our values. This is one of those moments. I do not support having a religious litmus test for entry into our nation and, in the view of many constitutional scholars, such an approach runs afoul of the constitution the president and I both took an oath to uphold. I also do not support religious registries which is why I have cosponsored a bill that will make it illegal to register Americans by religion. We are going to remain vigilant and strike back against ISIL and other networks that would do us harm. But we must do it in a way that reflects our values and keeps America as a beacon of freedom for the world.


Saturday, January 28, 2017

Juniper Dunes Wilderness

During another era I did a small research project at the Juniper Dunes Wilderness Area ( I recently got a distant glimpse of the Wilderness Area while driving the Kahlotus-Pasco Road. 

Juniper Dunes Wilderness Area is the distance

I formerly lived fairly close to the dunes. My first trip to the dunes was led by a Boy Scout leader that had a good grasp of off the beaten path public lands and a goal of camping once a month regardless of the weather or season. I remember collecting shell casings and really large bullets in the dune fields. The dune area had been used as some sort of military training ground in the WWII era. Pasco was used as a navy air training center during the war and there were a number of test landing strips and gunnery ranges scattered about eastern Washington. The dunes may have been one of those ranges. Post WWII the site was used by the military for survival training.

1953 topographic map

During my hard core long distant running era me and my running mates would do training runs in the dunes. This was one of three sand dune fields we would go out to in order to work our legs hard. The Juniper Dunes were the biggest and a loop run across the dunes and back was a hard work out.

The dunes were designated a National Wilderness Area in 1984. It was shortly after that designation that I did my little research project. My parents had an exchange student from Italy that fall. Paula was eager to join me to see some of the country. Access to the juniper forest portion of the dunes requires a bit of hiking. We hiked across the open dryland wheat fields to the east of the dunes very near where the above picture was taken. We collected soil and sand samples and hiked back via moon light. It was a new adventure for Paula to be in such wide open country.

Access to the Juniper Dunes Wilderness is still a bit of a challenge without an ORV. The BLM allows ORV use on the west part of the dunes outside the Wilderness, but the road is pretty bad without 4-wheel drive and high clearance or a good ORV. Private land around the Wilderness is pretty heavily posted as no trespassing and in this open country it is a bit hard to not be noticed. On the positive side the difficult access is protective of a very sensitive environment.

Aerial view of Juniper Dunes Wilderness
The ORV area can be seen to the west

The junipers in the dunes are Juniperus occidentalis.  The dunes are the what allows them to survive. Much of eastern Washington is too dry for the trees, but the dune field allows rain to infiltrate into the ground and provides the needed moisture for the trees to survive.

Along the Pasco-Kahlotus Road there is one place where a couple of trees grow near the road. Hardly noticeable except they are the only trees for many miles either south or north of the area.

A lone Juniperus occidentalis along the Pasco-Kahlotus Road
Click image to blow up and see the magpie and large nest

These trees are very common in the scrub steppe to the south in Oregon and Nevada. For an eastern Oregon rancher it must seem odd that a stand of junipers would be designated a wilderness area. In eastern Oregon as well as other scrub steppe juniper areas fire control has caused a major shift in juniper density. The trees are growing over and destroying range land as well as other sensitive habitat areas. They are presenting a very hard challenge for both public and private land managers and was one of the root causes of conflict that took place in eastern Oregon last winter.

Most of eastern Washington is too dry for western juniper; the Juniper Dunes Wilderness is the northern extreme of the tree. Outside the dune area there are only a few in the Wallula Gap area. There used to be a few near Vantage but they are now gone. I am uncertain of a stand of junipers near Beverly - they may be Rocky Mountain junipers or maybe both. The lack of the tree in eastern Washington even in the more moist areas to the east, north and west suggests moisture alone is not the limiting factor. I suspect it is the longer hot and dry periods in eastern Washington relative to the cooler high plains of eastern Oregon.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Arctostaphylos columbiana (Hairy manzanita) on the East Side of the Olympics

Various native plants get touted for gardens. The idea being saving water or providing habitat. One of my favorites is Arctostaphylos columbiana (hairy manzanita). However, it is not a plant that I see very often in my field ventures. On my last venture to the Olympic Peninsula I spotted one. 

The site was on the edge of a bedrock bald located on the east side of the Olympic Range. The bald is underlain by a very hard basalt unit within the Crescent Formation.

Besides the dryness provided by the bald this area gets very dry and warm in the summer. There is plenty of winter rain at this site so the area is typically heavily forested, but the long warm dry spell in the summer is such that the under story or edge of forest plants are drought tolerant.   

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Star School District

My recent ventures took me into Washington State dryland wheat as well as scrub steppe rangeland. The wheat land is underlain by Palouse soils and the rangeland is primarily within the ice age flood channels. There is also a dune field in this area. This is a pretty sparsely populated area and has less people today than it once did. Mechanization of farms and wheat transport, better roads and better cars has reduced the number of folks in this region of the state.
One survivor of the population decline could be seen on the horizon as I drove the Kahlotus-Pasco Road across the snowy wheat fields.

This cluster of buildings are the bulk of Star School District. The district serves 13 students (number from the latest State audit dated September 2016). The district has two teachers that teach in the single elementary school in the district.

About 10 miles to the southwest is another older school building that is no longer in use as a school.

This old school building was being used as a storage shed on a farm, but got a bit of a makeover in 1998 for the movie The Basket (trailer on youtube shows some school scenes). The movie setting was in Waterville, but the school scenes were shot at this old schoolhouse.


Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Freezing Rain Damaged Red Alders

Last week Snoqualmie Pass was closed due to freezing rain and snow. I did see some evidence of the freezing rain event. The tops of many of the red alders along the highway were snapped off. Kind of hard to capture with the camera but these pictures show the damaged trees if you click on the them to make them larger.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Big Variety of landscapes in One Day

A big plus of the Washington State landscape is that it has great variety. I got to experience some of that range today.
 My morning started with the Olympic Range.

View up the Duckabush River

I then headed east across Hood Canal on a floating bridge and then across Puget Sound via ferry. I then drove through Seattle, across another floating bridge and up over the Cascade Mountains.
Nearing Snoqualmie Pass

Central Washington was a mix of sun and fog.

And no trees obscuring the view or route.
End of the road

High hills and sage

I ended my day in ponderosa pine country and another city. 

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Notes from the Bellingham Women's March

I am not much for protests or marches, but I opted to delay for a day my field work trip and went to the march in Bellingham. It was not possible to capture the event scale from the ground.

Eddie Hayes did a better job with a drone shot.

I saw the drone and should add that the picture was from before the march began.

By the time I started on the march route people were completing the march such that the entire march route was completely filled with folks.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Evergreen Deer Browsing Notes

I have noted deer browsing on evergreens before (deer-doing-bonsai). While traversing through former pastures and hay fields on Shaw Island I noted the deer have been heavily trimming the evergreens. 
Douglas fir encroaching into the old hay fields have been clipped to low bush level excepting a few that are somehow able to getting a leader past browsing height.

The trees then pass into a poodle cut phase with a bushy bottom and top and a cropped area in between at browsing height.

Douglas fir are not the only cropped evergreens. The deer also crop the junipers.

One defense the junipers use is that cropped parts of the tree become thorny. This is a characteristic of young junipers.

The stand of junipers below has a thick bushy and thorny bases and more typical branching higher up.

Below is a picture of a mixed stand of Douglas fir and grand fir along a trail route between old hay fields. Both were being browsed and heavily cropped.

Grand fir branch

The above Douglas fir is just getting going after lots of previous browsing. This tree has some added protection in that it is growing on the edge of a thicket of rose.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Shaw Island Juniperus maritima

 I found plenty of Juniper maritima along the southwest shoreline of Shaw Island. The first tree I spotted was a classic rocky headland site juniper. Shaw Island is in the rain shadow of the Olympics and so it was not a surprise to find junipers, but they seem to be doing fairly well along the harsh conditions along the coastal strip.

Much of the northeast side of Parks Bay is lined with juniper trees with Douglas fir, lodgepole and grand fir just inland.  

A short note on the bedrock on this shore. The northeast side of Parks Bay is Constitution Formation and the southwest shore is Orcas Chert. A major tectonic fault lies in-between in the bay. A bit Garrison Schist shows up in the sheared rocks just around the point.

On the south shore at Cedar Rock Preserve, a fat dense juniper grows at the top of the headland along with some very fine madrones.

Another juniper stands alone just above the bedrock between the two pocket beaches on the southwest shore of the Preserve.

Early notes associated with the initial land surveys noted that the forest on the southwest of Shaw Island was scrubby and of little timber value. Logging was for mostly local use and an effort to open up some of the meadows to farming - initially sheep and a few orchards and later hay and timothy.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Shaw Island School - 127 Years of Education

I had a pleasant trip to Shaw Island for a couple of projects. Rather splendid weather for the trip. The ferry ride in the early morning was bumpy with a hard northeast wind frothing the water and keeping the ferry tilted a bit, but once south of Orcas Island and its mountains there was no wind.

Shaw Island has a small school. For many years the school was a one-room set up, but the school has had an addition and modifications in recent years. The modifications have been sensitive to the original structure. The building and site are listed on the National Register Historic Places (NRHP).

The school site has been in use since 1890 and is indicate on the 1895 T sheet map.

A striking feature of the T sheet map is that the area around the school has changed very little. The school site is still surrounded by forest. A small island library and historic museum are located across the street.

Shaw Island Library and Historical Museum

The museum and library were not open on the day of my visit, but are open most week days according to the sign on the library door. 

On this part of the island, the early homestead period appearance still prevails although slow changes continue to take place. In particular the farming activity is much less than it once was and the forest is going through changes as well.