Environment


I hike Mount Ellinor more than I should. In fact, I am probably addicted. Every four weeks or so, I take the 90 minute drive from Olympia to the upper parking lot. I have the drive, the trail, and the views memorized, yet I keep returning, again and again. On May 18th, 2015, I returned yet again to the summit of this Olympic Peninsula mountain, with hopes of another adventure, stunning views,  and hopefully some pictures of Mt St Helens and/or baby goats. It was my sixth time up Ellinor in the last five months, and I feel like I have been ignoring her.


The most polluted wild bird in the world has been found, and it wasn’t found where most would think. In the majestic town of Vancouver British Columbia, the mountains meet the sea in one of the most beautiful settings for a city in the world. Known for being an environmentally sound region, the news of a cooper hawk has been found with a level of fire retardant chemicals in its system that it is fireproof. 


Anyone living out west knows that this year has been usually warm, easily seen by glancing at any of our normally snowcapped peaks. While we know that this year’s El Nino has been tough, what is most shocking is that it is one of the worst snowfall years in history. The snowpack for the 6 western states of California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming are at a combined 41% of normal, with the highest snowpack coming in just under 80%.


Yosemite and Sequoia National Park are now, once again, home to Sierra Nevada Bighorn Sheep, something the region hasn’t seen for over a century. Between March 26th and 29th, 12 sheep (9 ewes and 3 rams) were placed in remote regions of both of these California National Parks, specifically to the Cathedral Range in Yosemite National Park and the Laurel Creek area of Sequoia National Park. 


It is March 27th, 2015.

After two straight days in the 60s with mostly sun, the world as I know it is changing before my very eyes. The Olympic Peninsula has been declared by Jay Inslee, the governor of Washington State,  to be in a drought.


The fate of West Coast starfish is now in the hands of congress. Unlike the starfish, the hands of congressmen aren’t melting off, which is probably why they aren’t rushing to address this issue.  First discovered on the rugged and isolated wilderness beach of Olympic National Park,  starfish along the West Coast of the United States and Canada are infected with what appears to be a disease that turns their appendages to mush. The event isn’t limited to a few starfish here and there, instead it is impacting the entire species, and threatens to devastate the entire ecosystem of the west coast.


The silence of the wilderness of Washington State’s Olympic Peninsula, which houses Olympic National Park, Olympic National Forest and six Wilderness Areas, is under attack. The attack on silence isn’t coming from the growing number of tourists looking to fall in love with the region, it isn’t coming from highway noise or cities, nor is it coming from logging operations looking to revitalize at struggling economy around the Peninsula. Instead, it is coming from the United States Navy,


As has been well documented over the past few months, the winter of 2014-15 is shaping up to give the mountains of the west one of their worst snowpacks in recent memory. While many look at the lack of snow this year and are concerned about the economic impact on ski areas and the increase of wildfire danger over the summer, the environmental impact of years like this has the potential to be far more devastating. On March 13th, 2015, Washington Governor Jay Inslee declared a drought for three regions of Washington State, including the Olympic Peninsula, which is sitting at just 7% of normal snowpack.


As most everyone around the western states knows, this winter has been beyond disappointing for those hoping for a normal snowpack. Mountains across the region, from the Rockies and the Cascades, to the Olympics and the Sierras, the amount of snow that has fallen in the winter of 2014-15 has been disappointing.