Conservation Kids: Working with Okanogan High School
Conservation Northwest / Jun 05, 2023 / Restoring Wildlife, Wildfire, Work Updates
One of the great things about our work is meeting up with fantastic students around the state and teaming up together on conservation projects. Matt Danielson, our Okanogan Forest Sr. Coordinator, and Keith Watson, our Sagelands Program Coordinator, recently had a field day with the Okanogan High School Ecology Class to examine wildfire recovery and resilience.
Students have been recording data for more than ten years by studying a site burned in the Oden Road Wildfire in 2009. The blaze was started by a lightning strike on Fox Mountain, about four miles west of Okanogan, WA, and eventually burned about 10,000 acres.
Our staff reported that a lot has been learned from this project about how wildfire can benefit or harm organisms. It is becoming clear that successfully restoring these burned areas depends on how the land is managed.
So far, students have observed many wildlife benefits in the recovery area:
- Beavers returned to the streams because of the regeneration of willow, aspen, and alder trees.
- Lewis’s woodpeckers and golden eagles are taking advantage of open-air space.
- Moose and mule deer browsing on luscious shrubs and forbs.
- Rainbow trout are spawning at the mouth of Little Loup Loup Creek in fresh gravels.
- Wildflowers are exploding with blooms and pollinators under the sunshine coming through the thinned forest canopy.
- Pygmy nuthatches are nesting and foraging in fire-killed snags.
We’re delighted to join Tribal and state agencies and other conservation groups in this vital work and are grateful to Okanogan High School for providing such a valuable opportunity to cultivate the next generation of ecologists and conservationists!