FNCF President, Jeanie Robinson, is smiling about forest science without using cars.
In addition to securing the ecological benefits of North Creek Forest our stated dream is: To enable a giant outdoor "walk to laboratory" to inspire students in science, art and literature.
On May 1 we took a big step in that direction. Saint Brendan students walked from school and did scientific research under the guidance of noted northwest naturalist, Rob Sandelin.
Rob teaches at the Sky Valley Education Center in Monroe. He has also been a park naturalist at Yosemite, Olympic Peninsula and Denali National Parks and a field educator at Yellowstone.
Decent into a research zone.
The day was absolutely perfect in every way.
After going over a personal story about recovering a baseball in nettles and showing students what nettles look like, Rob weaves his magic. Adults and students were captivated.
Rob had students group in teams of three. Each team was given a clipboard and 2 wood stakes coupled with exactly five meters of string. Field research involved randomly placing the stakes and recording how many different plants fell under the stretched string and the count for each plant in each sample. Students took as many samples as they could in about 45 minutes.
Random sampling (and fun) was magnified when Rob said, "Come back to this spot when you hear this sound," and proceeded to howl like a wolf. With a grin student teams scattered everywhere.
It is worth pointing out how serious students were about their research. They were meticulous in getting the string tight and counting every plant under the string.
The event was important enough that Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition (WWRC) brought in a professional photographer to make a video.
[Also see: Bothell Reporter ]
After students regrouped at the sound of the "wolf" Rob talked about the plants they found. He held up a plant and asked "How many of you found this plant to be the most abundant in more than half of your samples?" Student were able to see how different plants dominate in different parts of the forest. He then helped them learn plant names. They will probably remember when he waved the fern (in his left hand) like a sword... a Sword Fern, right?
Hanna Clark, with WWRC, told students about the Land and Water Conservation Fund and how important it is to saving North Creek Forest, not for a few years, but forever.
The money for this fund comes from a tax on oil and gas drilling and has been in place since 1965. It has been difficult to get Congress to fund the grant even though the the money is collected.
Thank you Senator Murray!
Senator Patty Murray has worked very hard to get Congress to keep funding for the LWCF. Without that work, the forest you see in the background (right) would not be in purchase negotiations with the city.
A second LWCF grant we worked with the city to apply for will be used to help purchase 3 remaining forest parcels IF Congress funds the LWCF.
Senator Murray was once called "the Senator in white tennis shoes". So students signed a gift of white hiking boots to express gratitude for her help in saving the forest.
North Creek Forest is an urban gem. If you have a giving program please consider a donation to our organization so we can continue our activities of conservation, education and stewardship. If you are a current or retired Boeing employee your gift will be matched by Boeing. All gifts are deductible.
This is a fragile forest. No official trails exist. We will advocate for special trails. We want trails to be designed by biologists so people can see diverse habitat without disturbing the wildlife.
So far UW Bothell students have carefully mapped key plant communities across 35 acres. Our Cascadia CC interns started a one year amphibian study and key amphibian habitats will also be mapped.
Someday the whole forest may be saved (with a lot more work). Someday you may be able to see this waterfall and let your mind go where it does in places like this.
All is possible because you support it.
Rob Sandelin, "This is what I do."
If you want to get a very useful book check out:
Field Guide to the Cascades and Olympics
Published by the Mountaineers
It's made for the field: sturdy, compact and full of what you need, to identify many of the plants, animals, insects and a lot of other you things might run into.