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Field Notes

Covering the natural wonders of the Pacific Northwest

March 30, 2012 at 7:00 AM

Choose Hope: a new photo exhibit on the Duwamish at the Burke

When he worked at The Seattle Times, former staff photographer Tom Reese took some of the most evocative and sensitive photos made at the newspaper of the natural world. I still remember his patience in the Hoh Rain Forest, spending an entire afternoon with me for a story on big leaf maples, getting just the right slant of light through the moss-padded trees, or the gilded glide of an autumn leaf, kiting to ground.

Gifted as he is at photographing Washington’s beautiful places, he captures Washington’s suffering landscapes with singular artfulness.

Since he has left the paper, Reese has done some remarkable independent work on the Duwamish, where his photos invite consideration, appreciation and wonder in a place so often overlooked as a trashed and forgotten landscape. Seattle’s only river, the Duwamish is the subject of his powerful photo essay at the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture.


Copyright Tom Reese

Consuming, and Paying the Price: Despite progress cleaning up the Duwamish, garbage, toxics in storm water runoff, and industrial pollution still find their way into the river every day.

The exhibit opens April 5, 5-7:30 p.m. and runs through July 8.

Here’s Tom on what fuels his ongoing attention to the Duwamish as a subject, from my interview with him this week:



March 26, 2012 at 6:24 PM

First new plants in the ground at Elwha River restoration sites

From Oregon sunshine, a sweet-faced, yellow aster, to noble Doug firs and red cedars, new plantings are standing dutifully at attention in the gray ground that sweeps for hundreds of acres along the Elwha River. The newly emerged landscape was inundated for 100 years behind Elwha Dam, and since 1926 behind Glines Canyon Dam. Just a portion of…



March 20, 2012 at 4:32 PM

First day of spring, with snow showers in the high country

Spring arrived in the Olympics today with a soft dusting of snow in the high country at Olympic National Park. A nice howler of a low pressure system arrived along with the new season, giving the landscape a good blast of wind, rain and snow. A meteorological spring cleaning of sorts. Snow dusts the Olympics…



March 15, 2012 at 9:50 AM

See it for yourself: Access to the Elwha re-opened Friday 3/16

The repairs to the Whiskey Bend Road in Olympic National Park will be complete two weeks early, and the road re-opened to vehicles as of tomorrow, March 16. Great news, because that’s the main access to the trailhead to the wonderland of the Geyser Valley. The 4.5 mile gravel road connects the Olympic Hot Springs Road…



March 10, 2012 at 7:00 AM

Elwha River headed back to bed this weekend

Demolition work on Elwha Dam has knocked and clawed the obstruction that has blocked the Elwha’s flow since 1910 nearly out of the river. This dam, illegally built even back then with no fish passage, is nearly history. PHOTO / NATIONAL PARK SERVICE In the photo on the left, the wood showing on the sides is what…



March 5, 2012 at 7:00 AM

Animals on the move: first survey results, and photos galore

The first results are in from the motorist survey of wildlife in the Interstate 90 corridor.


A wide variety of animals travel the I-90 corridor, such as this black bear.
Photo courtesy Western Transportation Institute

Sponsored by Western Transportation Institute and the I-90 Wilidlife Bridges Coalition and other partners, the survey is intended to better understand the animals using the corridor between North Bend and Easton. Motorists were asked to count any wildlife they see — dead or alive — and report it for the survey, launched in November 2010.


Elk are one of the most frequently seen animals in the I-90 corridor — and one of the most dangerous to encounter in a collision. Crossing structures under construction on I-90 will make the highway safer for animals and drivers. Photo courtesy Western Transportation Institute

The results were encouraging in this respect: Motorists saw a wide variety of wildlife, from turkeys to skunks to elk. And most of the sightings were of live animals, not roadkill.


Coyotes were seen by many drivers. Photo courtesy Western Transportation Institute

In its first 12 months, the website received 6,821 visits from all 50 states in the U.S., and 29 other countries. The vast majority of visits (83%) originated in Washington. Visitors reported 240 valid (i.e., presumed authentic) wildlife sightings made in the survey area during the first year, comprising a total of 529 live and dead animals. Sightings included both mammals and birds, with deer and elk dominating the mammals list. Of 475 mammals reported, 423 were alive and 52 were dead.


Most of the animals reported by drivers were seen alive. Photo courtesy Western Transportation Initiative

To participate in the survey yourself, check out this link. The survey will continue for at least another year.



March 2, 2012 at 7:00 AM

Spring shorebird class coming up in Kirkland

Spring is less than a month away, and with it comes the delight of the annual shorebird migration. Washington’s Coast is a major stop on the Pacific flyway, and one way to learn about this annual migratory miracle is a shorebird class offered by Eastside Audubon. A whimbrel at Ocean Shores surveys in elegant repose.(Photo…