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Monday, August 12, 2013

International Youth Day

What is your first memory of being in a wild place? How old were you when this memory was created? Who was with you? Do you remember certain smells or what the weather was doing?

For many of us, these memories impact our behavior as adults, which is why Washington Wild is working hard to protect the “next generation of wilderness” in Washington: the low elevation forests and wild rivers that were left out of the initial round of wilderness protection in the 1970’s and 80’s. The potential to experience wildness in Washington’s forests and rivers is exceptional, and future generations deserve to have these wild places available to them.


 

Monday, August 12, 2013, is International Youth Day, an awareness day designated by the United Nations that happens every year on August 12th. It is an opportunity for governments and others to draw attention to youth issues worldwide. Thus, we are drawing attention to the youth issue of involving young people in wild land and water protection.

In Washington Wild’s Spring 2011 newsletter, then 20-year-old Aberdeen native Levi Olden expressed his thoughts on wildlands protection,

“In wilderness, you get to learn about your friends, about yourself, and about what it is you really care about. It is my time in these wild places that helped me realize what I wanted to do with my life. This is an issue that should matter to my generation, because if we protect these places now, before they are lost, they will be there for our future children and their children. I want my future generations to have the same experience that I did."

  It is clear that youth learn in wild places: they learn about themselves and gain a sense of reverence and understanding about the places they visit. They create lasting memories, form bonds with wild places and want to get out there more often. This alone is cause for celebration! In many instances, trips to wild places also create a natural connection to taking ownership of one’s environmental impact during “in town” life. Ultimately, personal connections to wild places lead all of us, young and old, to a desire to protect these places for future generations to enjoy.

To demonstrate how youth enjoy nature and to engage them now in thinking about why Washington’s wild places are worth protecting, Washington Wild has started a new Youth Voices Project. We ask that youth between the ages of 5-21 go into the wild with their friends and family and have fun. Go hiking, camping, horseback riding, kayaking, backpacking, climbing, or whatever activities they like to do in the wild. Then, once they’re home, we would like them to create something that shows how amazing the trip was. We would like to see paintings, drawing, poetry, stories, photography, and other displays of creativity that show how much fun you had and why the place you visited is worth protecting. 

There are millions of wild acres to explore in Washington and boundless ways to express how special those places are – the Youth Voices Project has no limits!  
To submit work to the Youth Voices Project, email your work (or a photo of your work if you sculpted, sewed, or built something) to christine@wawild.org. Please include your age, phone number, the town you live in, and a brief description of your work.

All photos in this article are from 16 year-old Youth Voices participant, Erikka O. A resident of Burlington, WA, she recently captured all of these photos while backpacking and canoeing through North Cascades National Park as a participant in a program with the North Cascade Institute that focused on developing leadership and stewardship skills. These photos were taken in Mazama Campground and on Baker Lake.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

To Catch a Wolverine in Washington’s Wilderness

by Teddi McFall

They say pictures are worth a thousand words, but to me, a summer intern here at Washington Wild, the pictures I help collect leave my friends speechless. This summer as a hobby with my boyfriend, I set up cameras to capture pictures of wildlife around Washington State.

A common interest in environmental science and the outdoors brought Rob Holbrook and me together. We both enjoy being in and studying nature, as we are both working towards bachelors degrees in Environmental Science at UW and WWU.

Edmonds Community College’s LEAF school program taught Rob how to track and set up wildlife cameras. These cameras use motion sensors as well as infrared light to take pictures of moving animals in day or night. Rob soon bought his own wildlife camera and included me in creating a blog to post the pictures we wanted to capture.

A bear wanders into the view of the camera
Our blog, “Wolverines of Washington,” is a fun project we are doing this summer aimed at collecting pictures of fauna that we normally cannot see while hiking. The ultimate goal is to capture a picture of a wolverine, a muscular hunter-scavenger of the weasel family that under a current proposal, may be declared an endangered species. This animal is adapted to snowy, high elevation regions and is facing large threats due to climate change. Therefore, we make finding one of these rare animals the ultimate accomplishment for our blog.

In order to find the large, charismatic fauna that we are looking for (bears, wolves, wolverines, etc.), we use research reports to find the ranges of the animals and at what elevations to find them. Using this information, we find areas that will give us the best results and hike up the camera, bait (chicken legs), a bait casing (made of chicken wire and zip ties), a hammer, nails, and red fox urine to work as lure. We usually look for signs animals have been in the area like tracks, fur, or tree markings. After nailing down or hanging the bait and casing, we attach the camera to a tree and leave it there for at least 2 weeks.

The massive anticipation while hiking back up to retrieve the camera is what makes this project so exciting. It’s after you actually see these animals in their habitat that you realize how important protecting them really is. We hope to spread awareness of species’ habitat depletion as well as wildland protection through the pictures we collect. Not everyone wants to find bear markings or take pictures of mountain beavers, but it is something I am proud of and am learning a lot from this summer.