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News, notes, trip reports, and the lighter side (of the wilder side) of the Oregon environmental and conservation movement.
Highlights from a recent hike into Cummins Creek on the Oregon coast.
I can't believe I forgot my diameter tape! I was just going to show a friend a spot I thought he'd enjoy photographing with his new fancy fish-eye lens along Cummins Creek - just south of Yachats on the central Oregon coast. I kind of forgot that the potential for finding really huge Sitka spruces was really high and that people might like to know how big these trees were. You'll have to stay tuned for the next trip...
Don't let the snow keep you from exploring a butte-iful Oregon peak.
Snow has wreathed the summit of Black Butte for the season. But the reopening of a long-forgotten trail on the lower slopes now makes it possible to sample this conical mountain’s charms most of winter. In all, the lower portion of the trail gains 1750 feet in 3.1 miles, so it’s not exactly an easy hike.
To find the new trailhead, drive Highway 20 east of Santiam Pass 10 miles (or west of Sisters 9 miles). Near milepost 91, turn north at a sign for the Metolius River. Follow this paved road 2.7 miles to a fork. Then veer right on Road 14, following a “Campgrounds” pointer. Just 0.2 mile later, turn right onto red gravel Road 1430 for a tenth of a mile. Then turn right again, to a trailhead parking area ringed by boulders.
In the Hall of Giants on a hike to Oregon's Crabtree Valley.
This remote Cascade vale north of Sweet Home has some of the state’s oldest and largest trees. You can drive to the trailhead almost entirely on paved roads. A moderate 2-mile walk, partly on abandoned roadbeds, takes you to a rarely visited mountain lake surrounded by monstrous trees nine feet in diameter.
In the 1970s this valley was private timberland. Willamette Industries began cutting trees in 1978 after the BLM rejected a land swap. Word spread to the Oregon Wilderness Coalition (now known as Oregon Wild). Cameron LaFollette, an OWC staffer, convinced the Oregon legislature to stop the cutting by offering to trade state forest land for the private valley. That land swap failed as well, but by then there was so much public interest in Crabtree Valley that the BLM decided to acquire the land after all.
Mountain Rose Herbs is putting on quite the festival this September 22-25: Rootstalk celebrates plants, people and planet. Oregon Wild will be there.
What are you doing September 22-25? If you're looking for a unique event with a huge diversity of fun and informative offerings, you should be glad to learn about Rootstalk!
The first of its kind, this festival put on by local organic herbal company Mountain Rose Herbs, seems to have something for everyone. There's live music every evening, a masquerade ball, camping and outdoor activities at a beautiful 300-acre site, local and organic food and brews, and a crafter's marketplace.
Then there are the dozens of classes and hands-on workshops on topics ranging from identifying and using medicinal herbs to herbal brewing to permaculture and wilderness survival skills.
When rhetoric meets the road consistency goes out the window.
As an environmentalist, I've heard it a dozen times. In fact, I saw the accusation in a Facebook post on the Oregon Wild page earlier today. The claim has been leveled so many times, I just may start believing it.
So, here's my admission. I'm a greedy environmental wacko, rolling in hundred dollar bills that I deviously extracted from the government.
Well, at least that's what mining, logging, and other development special interests would have you believe. We only do the work that we do because we can milk taxpayer dollars doing it.
If that sounds a little dubious, read on.
Tracking spotted owls isn't always easy, but man's best friend might be able to help.
Great story from Amelia Templeton at the public radio Northwest News Network.
She followed several biologists (some with the US Fish and Wildlife Service) on a northern spotted owl survey recently. Tracking the movements and locations of spotted owls is critical to recovery of the species. Land managers need to know where the owls are living so they can make appropriate choices for what activities can (and cannot) occur on the land.
Owl surveys also allow scientists to get a clearer overall picture of owl populations across the region. Unfortunately, due to continued habitat loss (and competition from its cousin the barred owl), spotted owl populations are still on the decline. The numbers go down by about 4% per year.
But the researchers featured in this story have a new way to track the most studied bird in the world. Dogs.
From small to large, this week's mushroom takes the size prize.
Noble Polypore or the “Fuzzy Sandozi”, Bridgeoporus nobilissimus
This is one of the Pacific Northwest’s largest mushrooms (as contrasted with the exceptionally small “Sedge-Culm Mycena” featured last week).
It is also a very rare mushroom, known from only a few dozen locations in the Pacific Northwest. It was also the first fungus to be listed as an endangered species by any private or public agency in the United States, having been listed as such by the Oregon Natural Heritage Program.
Bridgeoporus nobilissimus, Noble Polypore or the “Fuzzy Sandozi” has massive shelf-like fruiting bodies, reaching up to 300 pounds that grow to five feet across. As such, it associates itself primarily with old growth true fir species (genus Abies) that are at least 3 feet or more in diameter. It grows close to the ground and sometimes resembles a giant clam. A single fruiting body, or conk, may live up to 35 years.
The University of Oregon is going out on a design limb once again...and this time there's a forest theme.
Already well known across the nation for their numerous, and at times outlandish, uniform combinations, the designers are taking it to another level next year. The uniforms have brought all sorts of attention, some of it positive and some critical.
But for the 2011 Pac-Ten basketball season, the attention will shift from the designs on the jerseys to the design on the brand new basketball arena floor.
And while the uniforms have a duck-based wildlife theme, the court is all about the forest.
It's fall, so you might be out mushroom hunting. Watch out for this one, recently deemed unsafe for eating.
Man on Horseback, Tricholoma flavovirens
What has always been considered a very good wild edible mushroom known as “Man on Horseback” or Tricholoma flavovirens is now regarded as unsafe, or at least not recommended for repeated, ongoing consumption.
This very yellow colored mushroom species is fairly abundant under pine trees along the Oregon and northern California coasts, and I’ve consumed them from time to time all of my mushroom collecting life. But, I guess I’m going to pass on them from now on. Apparently, testing began on this species as a couple of years ago there was a very surprising and unexpected fatal poisoning recorded in France from a similar, related species, Tricholoma equestre (also thought to be a safe species), and which is the name Tricholoma flavovirens used to go by in North America.
Fall (and rain) is in the air. And that means its mycology time. This week's feature has a poultry theme.
Chicken-of-the-Woods - Laetiporus sulphureus (L. conifericola)
Often with multiple fungal shelves, and sometimes growing up to two feet across, the Mushroom of the Week is Sulfur Shelf or Chicken-of-the-Woods. Most mushroom books show the scientific name of this species as Laetiporus (abundant pores) sulphureus (in reference to its striking orange, or when younger, yellow-sulfur like colors). Older mushroom books called it Polyporus sulphureus, before the “Polypore” genus was split by mushroom scientists (mycologists) into many other genera—to more accurately distinguished the diversity of this family of fungus, whose undersides contains numerous, pin prick sized pores through which its reproductive spores are released.
However, while still the same “critter”, the name of this very colorful shelf fungus has been changed now yet again!