BOOK REVIEW: Natural History of the Pacific Northwest Mountains & a local event with the author

While perusing old nature books on the reference shelves at nature centers around Portland, I tend to see the 1988 guide Cascade-Olympic Natural History by Daniel Mathews. It’s out-of-print, and Multnomah County Library has just a single copy in its entire collection, and patrons can only use it in the library. It’s no surprise then that the author’s efforts to educate folks in the Pacific Northwest about their mountainous natural environments deserve a new life some three decades later. The regional publisher Timber Press – which has previously published a series of guidebooks on PNW wildlife, insects, wildflowers, trees & shrubs, and mushrooms (as well as a new guide on birds) – has just released a new version of Mathews’ guide as Natural History of the Pacific Northwest Mountains.

9781604696356l

Daniel Mathews, Natural History of the Pacific Northwest Mountains (Portland, OR: Timber Press, 2017), 600 pp. 800 color photos, 215 illustrations, 4 maps.

Order through Powell’s City of Books • Order through Amazon.com •

As the cover of Natural History of the Pacific Northwest Mountains indicates, this book covers the following topics: climate, plants, fungi, animals, and geology. Also included are a section on the various landscapes of the PNW and a useful glossary in the back. And each section of the field guide portion provides great general overviews and boxed text throughout covering other topics in more detail, including short biographies of relevant naturalists (as a history buff, I enjoy this!). A guide such as this is welcome, especially for trips, since one wouldn’t necessarily want to lug around all their various more-specific field guides. This guide would be perfect companion for a camping trip to Olympic National Park or hiking around Mt. Hood, or exploring at Mt. Rainier National Park or in the mountains of southwestern British Columbia.

Time will tell for the usefulness of this guide, as I use it to identify something I see when visiting my region’s mountainous landscapes (there’s always that one animal or flower you see that happens to not be included in a guide, right?). But from a leisurely stroll through its pages, Natural History of the Pacific Northwest Mountains is a beautifully-produced guide that can either find a home on one’s bookshelf or in a backpack. I look forward to having it as a resource for our nature explorations!

———-

For those in the Portland area, you can hear from the author of Natural History of the Pacific Northwest Mountains at a OHS History Pub event at the McMenimans Kennedy School on April 24, 7-9pm.

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Upcoming nature events in Portland

— Please check for any schedule changes or registration requirements —

Ladybug Nature Walks from Portland Parks & Recreation are back on – printable schedule here

Now playing at OMSI’s Empirical Theater in 3D: National Parks Adventure

Upcoming OMSI Science Pubs about glaciers, ice age floods, and volcanoes

Upcoming Intertwine Regional Eco-Blitz events

Nature classes at Portland area parks from Tinkergarten

Discovery Hikes with the Forest Park Conservancy

Guided hikes at Camassia Natural Area with the Nature Conservancy of Oregon: April 15, April 22, April 23, and May 14

Family-friendly hikes with Friends of the Columbia River Gorge (click on the family-friendly filter to the right of the screen)

Hike series with Oregon Wild

Winter tours at the Hoyt Arboretum

Free Metro Parks Days on May 5 and June 21

Spring nature programming from THPRD

Spring nature programming from the Friends of Tryon Creek

Spring nature programming at Jackson Bottom Wetlands (Hillsboro), including their regular Lunch with the Birds and Sunset Sit, Moonrise Smile outings

Spring nature programming at the Tillamook Forest Center (watch for announcements

Spring nature programming at the Leach Botanical Garden

Free Skills Series from Rewild Portland (every month)

Bird watching outings with Audubon Society of Portland

Bird walks with Backyard Bird Shop

April 8 | Opening Day for Trails | Rails-to-Trails Conservancy

April 9 | Celebrate Our Gateway to Nature | Friends of April Hill Park

April 9 | Morning/afternoon mushroom discovery hike at Smith and Bybee | Metro

April 11 | Nature Night: Dynamic Geology of Oregon | Audubon Society of Portland

April 13 | Free Author Event: Daniel Mathews Presents Natural History of the Pacific Northwest Mountains | Audubon Society of Portland

April 13 | Experience Vancouver Lake: an open house | Lower Columbia Estuary Partnership

April 14 | Film screening: Love Thy Nature | Ecology in Classrooms and Outdoors (ECO)

April 15 | Cultural Day: Traditional Lifeways of NW Oregon Tribes | Friends of Tryon Creek

April 15 | Open house to comment on designs for new Forest Park Entrance and Nature Center | Portland Parks & Recreation

April 15-23 | National Park Week | National Park Foundation

April 16 | Cathlapotle Plankhouse Spring Celebration | Friends of Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge

April 21 | Earth Day Crew | Hoyt Arboretum

April 22 | Earth Day at the Refuge! | Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge

April 22 | Earth Day | Friends of Tryon Creek

April 22 | Arbor Day 2017 at Mt. Scott Park | Portland Parks & Recreation

April 22 | Nature Days in the Park: Vista Brook Park | THPRD

April 22 | SOLVE IT for Earth Day (stewardship volunteering projects TBA) | SOLVE

April 22 | March for Science – Portland

April 22 | Naturalist in the park (Cooper Mountain Nature Park) | Metro

April 22-29 | Native Plant Appreciation Week (series of events)| Portland Chapter of the Native Plant Society of Oregon

April 23 | Morning/afternoon mushroom discovery hike at Oxbow Regional Park | Metro

April 23 | Earth Day Spring Festival in SE PDX | PSU Learning Gardens Laboratory

April 23-29 | National Environmental Education Week | NEEF

April 24 | History Pub at McMenimans Kennedy School: Natural History of the Cascades and Beyond | Oregon Historical Society

April 29 | Fantastic mosses and where to find them (Smith and Bybee) | Metro

April 29 | Classroom Discovery Days: The Trees of Tryon Creek | Friends of Tryon Creek

May 1-7 | Screen-Free Week (everywhere) | Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood

May 6 | Kids Fishing Festival | Columbia Springs (Vancouver)

May 14 | Nature Days in the Park: Pioneer Park | THPRD

May 11 | Wild Gresham: A Community Talk on Wildlife | Johnson Creek Watershed Council

May 20 | Tualatin River Bird Festival | Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge

May 20 | Fantastic mosses and where to find them (Scouters Mountain Nature Park) | Metro

May 20 | Kids to Parks Day | National Park Trust

May 21 | Turtle walk in the wetlands (Smith and Bybee) | Metro

May 27 | Classroom Discovery Days: Pollination: insects, birds, and bees | Friends of Tryon Creek

June 3 | National Trails Day | American Hiking Society

June 8 | Grant’s Getaways: Oregon Adventures with the Kids | Hillsboro Public Library

June 11 | Animal tracking adventure (Oxbow Regional Park) | Metro

July 12-15 | National Children & Youth Garden Symposium in Vancouver, WA.

Regular nature outings (check websites for seasonal scheduling):
Nature Days in the Park and Nature Mobile from THPRD’s Natural Resources
Honeybee Hikes at Leach Botanical Garden
Story and Strolls and Guided Nature Walks at Tryon Creek State Park
Ladybug Nature Walks with Portland Parks Environmental Education
Puddle Stompers at Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge
Tadpole Tales with Columbia Slough Watershed Council
Farm Fridays at Zenger Farm
Second Saturdays at the Water Resources Education Center in Vancouver, WA
Guided hikes at Columbia Springs in Vancouver, WA (third Wed. of most months)
Tillamook Tales at the Tillamook Forest Center

Did you know?
– $2 admission at OMSI the first Sunday of every month
– $3 admission at the World Forestry Center the first Thursday of every month
– $4 admission at the Oregon Zoo the second Tuesday of every month
– FREE admission at the Portland Art Museum the first Thursday of every month, 5-8pm
– FREE admission at the Portland Children’s Museum the first Friday of every month, 4-8pm
– FREE admission at the Oregon Historical Society & Museum every day for Multnomah County residents

*My friend Laura posts a monthly listing of kid and family-friendly events of natural, scientific, and cultural interest. April’s list is here.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Upcoming nature events in Portland

— Please check for any schedule changes or registration requirements —

Ladybug Nature Walks from Portland Parks & Recreation are back on – printable schedule here

Now playing at OMSI’s Empirical Theater in 3D: National Parks Adventure

Upcoming OMSI Science Pubs about glaciers, ice age floods, and volcanoes

Nature classes at Portland area parks from Tinkergarten

Discovery Hikes with the Forest Park Conservancy

Guided hikes at Camassia Natural Area with the Nature Conservancy of Oregon: April 15, April 22, April 23, and May 14

Family-friendly hikes with Friends of the Columbia River Gorge (click on the family-friendly filter to the right of the screen)

Hike series with Oregon Wild

Winter tours at the Hoyt Arboretum

Free Metro Parks Days on March 31, May 5, and June 21

Spring nature programming from THPRD

Spring nature programming from the Friends of Tryon Creek

Spring nature programming at Jackson Bottom Wetlands (Hillsboro), including their regular Lunch with the Birds and Sunset Sit, Moonrise Smile outings

Spring nature programming at the Tillamook Forest Center (watch for announcements

Spring nature programming at the Leach Botanical Garden

Free Skills Series from Rewild Portland (every month)

Bird watching outings with Audubon Society of Portland

Bird walks with Backyard Bird Shop

March 25 | Classroom Discovery Days: The Wonderful World of Water | Friends of Tryon Creek

March 25 | EcoBlitz: Salamanders! | Johnson Creek Watershed Council

March 25-31 | Whale Watching Week on the Oregon Coast | Oregon State Parks

March 27-31 | Nature-based camps for Spring Break 2016

April 1 | Spring Oregon Beach Cleanup | SOLVE

April 1-2 | 37th Annual Trillium Festival | Friends of Tryon Creek

April 8 | Opening Day for Trails | Rails-to-Trails Conservancy

April 9 | Celebrate Our Gateway to Nature | Friends of April Hill Park

April 9 | Morning/afternoon mushroom discovery hike at Smith and Bybee | Metro

April 11 | Nature Night: Dynamic Geology of Oregon | Audubon Society of Portland

April 13 | Experience Vancouver Lake: an open house | Lower Columbia Estuary Partnership

April 11 | Free Author Event: Daniel Mathews Presents Natural History of the Pacific Northwest Mountains | Audubon Society of Portland

April 16 | Cathlapotle Plankhouse Spring Celebration | Friends of Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge

April 22 | Earth Day at the Refuge! | Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge

April 22 | Arbor Day 2017 at Mt. Scott Park | Portland Parks & Recreation

April 22 | Nature Days in the Park: Vista Brook Park | THPRD

April 22 | SOLVE IT for Earth Day (stewardship volunteering projects TBA) | SOLVE

April 22 | March for Science – Portland

April 22 | Naturalist in the park (Cooper Mountain Nature Park) | Metro

April 23 | Morning/afternoon mushroom discovery hike at Oxbow Regional Park | Metro

April 29 | Fantastic mosses and where to find them (Smith and Bybee) | Metro

April 29 | Classroom Discovery Days: The Trees of Tryon Creek | Friends of Tryon Creek

May 1-7 | Screen-Free Week (everywhere) | Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood

May 14 | Nature Days in the Park: Pioneer Park | THPRD

May 20 | Tualatin River Bird Festival | Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge

May 20 | Fantastic mosses and where to find them (Scouters Mountain Nature Park) | Metro

May 21 | Turtle walk in the wetlands (Smith and Bybee) | Metro

May 27 | Classroom Discovery Days: Pollination: insects, birds, and bees | Friends of Tryon Creek

June 8 | Grant’s Getaways: Oregon Adventures with the Kids | Hillsboro Public Library

June 11 | Animal tracking adventure (Oxbow Regional Park) | Metro

Regular nature outings (check websites for seasonal scheduling):
Nature Days in the Park and Nature Mobile from THPRD’s Natural Resources
Honeybee Hikes at Leach Botanical Garden
Story and Strolls and Guided Nature Walks at Tryon Creek State Park
Ladybug Nature Walks with Portland Parks Environmental Education
Puddle Stompers at Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge
Tadpole Tales with Columbia Slough Watershed Council
Farm Fridays at Zenger Farm
Second Saturdays at the Water Resources Education Center in Vancouver, WA
Guided hikes at Columbia Springs in Vancouver, WA (third Wed. of most months)
Tillamook Tales at the Tillamook Forest Center

Did you know?
– $2 admission at OMSI the first Sunday of every month
– $3 admission at the World Forestry Center the first Thursday of every month
– $4 admission at the Oregon Zoo the second Tuesday of every month
– FREE admission at the Portland Art Museum the first Thursday of every month, 5-8pm
– FREE admission at the Portland Children’s Museum the first Friday of every month, 4-8pm
– FREE admission at the Oregon Historical Society & Museum every day for Multnomah County residents

*My friend Laura posts a monthly listing of kid and family-friendly events of natural, scientific, and cultural interest. March’s list is here.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Film Screening: Love Thy Nature (narrated by Liam Neeson)

Ecology in Classrooms & Outdoors (ECO) in Portland is hosting a screening of the film Love Thy Nature at 7pm on April 14th at PNCA’s Shipley/Collins Mediatheque. You can register for this free screening here (a donation is suggested).

Here’s the trailer:

Posted in audio/video, documentary, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

BOOK REVIEW: Unseen City: The Majesty of Pigeons, the Discreet Charm of Snails & Other Wonders of the Urban Wilderness

As a parent to two children who spend a lot of time in nature with me, I am always being presented with questions about this or that thing we see along the trail, in the sky, or under the surface of pond. And more times than not, I don’t know what it is. And that’s okay – one mustn’t be a trained naturalist in order to appreciate nature and reap the benefits of spending time in it. Shelves in my home are stocked with all manner of field guides appropriate for the flora and fauna of our very cool corner of the globe, and my laptop browser has many similarly-useful websites bookmarked for reference if needed. And on my smartphone, I have installed the Oregon Wildflowers app and the Cornell Web of Ornithology’s free bird app Merlin (yes, free!). A few of my favorite books are those that discuss urban wildlife, such as The Urban Bestiary: Encountering the Everyday Wild by Lyanda Lynn Haupt and Field Guide to Urban Wildlife: Common Animals of Cities & Suburbs How They Adapt & Thrive by Julie Feinstein. So essentially I’ve set myself up to likely identify or answer the myriad queries that come my way.

But sometimes I would love to just know the answers right away. I wish time was available to take some natural history courses, to devote time to in-depth study of local flora and fauna. One dad, who lives in the bay area, did just that when confronted with question after question from his young daughter. And then he wrote a book about his efforts to learn more about urban wildlife:

unseencitycover-667x1024

Nathanael Johnson, Unseen City: The Majesty of Pigeons, the Discreet Charm of Snails & Other Wonders of the Urban Wilderness (New York: Rodale, 2016), 256 pp. $24.99 hardcover.

Publisher’s description It all started with Nathanael Johnson’s decision to teach his daughter the name of every tree they passed on their walk to day care in San Francisco. This project turned into a quest to discover the secrets of the neighborhood’s flora and fauna, and yielded more than names and trivia: Johnson developed a relationship with his nonhuman neighbors. Johnson argues that learning to see the world afresh, like a child, shifts the way we think about nature: Instead of something distant and abstract, nature becomes real―all at once comical, annoying, and beautiful. This shift can add tremendous value to our lives, and it might just be the first step in saving the world. No matter where we live―city, country, oceanside, or mountains―there are wonders that we walk past every day. Unseen City widens the pinhole of our perspective by allowing us to view the world from the high-altitude eyes of a turkey vulture and the distinctly low-altitude eyes of a snail. The narrative allows us to eavesdrop on the comically frenetic life of a squirrel and peer deep into the past with a ginkgo biloba tree. Each of these organisms has something unique to tell us about our neighborhoods and, chapter by chapter, Unseen City takes us on a journey that is part nature lesson and part love letter to the world’s urban jungles. With the right perspective, a walk to the subway can be every bit as entrancing as a walk through a national park.

I think deep down the desire someone has to learn about the nature around them is so that they can share that experience and knowledge with others, whether family, friends, students, whomever. Johnson shows us not only is it really not that difficult to learn more about your environment, but that it’s also pretty simple to change your perspective on what it means to live in a city. Among the concrete buildings and sidewalks are a myriad of organisms doing what they can do to survive. And while we might not always see them, whether because of their desire to be unseen or are inabilities to notice when distracted, they see us and the same environment in wholly different ways. To appreciate these differences can bring us toward an understanding that we share our habitats, that we are all connected. “If humans hope to achieve a more harmonious relationship with the natural world,” Johnson writes, “we will have to see it in full: breathtaking, dirty, and inspiring, and annoying all at the same time.” A downtown rat is just as much part of nature as a less-cringe-worthy rodent spotted on a trail in the far out wilderness.

Johnson tells his readers about pigeons, squirrels, songbirds and their songs, turkey language, ants, crows, and snails, as well as some plants. Each chapter delves into the biology of said critter with the help of those who study them. And peppered throughout are anecdotes from the author about his time spent outside with his daughter and her feelings about the nature around her.

Purchase Unseen City through the independent Powell’s City of Books or Amazon (affiliate links).

LISTEN:
Unseen City: Wonders of the Urban Wilderness
Uncovering the Urban Wild

WATCH:

Posted in audio/video, books, neighborhood nature, parenting, Uncategorized, urban nature | Leave a comment

Wednesday photo of the week: immersed

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Image | Posted on by | Leave a comment

Monday thought of the week: chart the journey

A thought:

We can only expose children to experiences that etch lasting memories; they will chart the journey of learning from there.

– Michael Lanza, Before They’re Gone: A Family’s Year-Long Quest to Explore America’s Most Endangered National Parks (Boston: Beacon Press, 2012), p.177

Posted in michael lanza, thoughts, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Upcoming nature events in Portland

— Please check for any schedule changes or registration requirements —

Ladybug Nature Walks from Portland Parks & Recreation are back on – printable schedule here

Now playing at OMSI’s Empirical Theater in 3D: National Parks Adventure

Upcoming OMSI Science Pubs about ocean tides, glaciers, ice age floods, and volcanoes

Nature classes at Portland area parks from Tinkergarten

Discovery Hikes with the Forest Park Conservancy

Hike series with Friends of the Columbia River Gorge

Hike series with Oregon Wild

Winter tours at the Hoyt Arboretum

Free Metro Parks Days on March 8, March 31, May 5, and June 21

Winter/Spring nature programming from THPRD

Winter/Spring nature programming from the Friends of Tryon Creek

Winter/Spring nature programming at Jackson Bottom Wetlands (Hillsboro), including their regular Lunch with the Birds and Sunset Sit, Moonrise Smile outings

Winter/Spring nature programming at the Tillamook Forest Center (watch for announcements

Winter/Spring nature programming at the Leach Botanical Garden

Free Skills Series from Rewild Portland (every month)

Bird watching outings with Audubon Society of Portland

Bird walks with Backyard Bird Shop

February 25 | Classroom Discovery Days: The Owls of Tryon Creek | Friends of Tryon Creek

 

March 1 | Owl Prowl | Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge

March 1 | Book talk: Natural History of the Pacific Northwest Mountains | Powell’s City of Books

March 3-4 | National Day of Unplugging (everywhere) | Reboot

March 4 | Watershed Wide Event (stewardship volunteering) | Johnson Creek Watershed Council

March 4 | EcoBlitz: Salamanders! | Johnson Creek Watershed Council

March 4 | Local Refuges Get “Wild in the City” (Vancouver)

March 8 | Puddle Stompers | Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge

March 9 | Book talk: Natural History of the Pacific Northwest Mountains | Powell’s on Hawthorne

March 11 | Owl Fest | Friends of Tryon Creek

March 12 | Nature Days in the Park: Summercrest Park | THPRD

March 13-14 | Children, Nature & Schools Symposium & Green Schools Tour (Oregon Zoo) | Intertwine

March 14 | Puddle Stompers | Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge

March 18 | Clark County Youth & Nature Symposium (Clark College) | Intertwine

March 25 | Classroom Discovery Days: The Wonderful World of Water | Friends of Tryon Creek

March 27-31 | Nature-based camps for Spring Break 2016

April 1 | Spring Oregon Beach Cleanup | SOLVE

April 8 | Opening Day for Trails | Rails-to-Trails Conservancy

April 22 | Earth Day at the Refuge! | Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge

April 22 | Nature Days in the Park: Vista Brook Park | THPRD

April 22 | SOLVE IT for Earth Day (stewardship volunteering projects TBA) | SOLVE

April 22 | March for Science – Portland

April 29 | Classroom Discovery Days: The Trees of Tryon Creek | Friends of Tryon Creek

May 1-7 | Screen-Free Week (everywhere) | Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood

May 14 | Nature Days in the Park: Pioneer Park | THPRD

May 20 | Tualatin River Bird Festival | Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge

May 27 | Classroom Discovery Days: Pollination: insects, birds, and bees | Friends of Tryon Creek

June 8 | Grant’s Getaways: Oregon Adventures with the Kids | Hillsboro Public Library

Regular nature outings (check websites for seasonal scheduling):
Nature Days in the Park and Nature Mobile from THPRD’s Natural Resources
Honeybee Hikes at Leach Botanical Garden
Story and Strolls and Guided Nature Walks at Tryon Creek State Park
Ladybug Nature Walks with Portland Parks Environmental Education
Puddle Stompers at Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge
Tadpole Tales with Columbia Slough Watershed Council
Farm Fridays at Zenger Farm
Second Saturdays at the Water Resources Education Center in Vancouver, WA
Guided hikes at Columbia Springs in Vancouver, WA (third Wed. of most months)
Tillamook Tales at the Tillamook Forest Center

Did you know?
– $2 admission at OMSI the first Sunday of every month
– $3 admission at the World Forestry Center the first Thursday of every month
– $4 admission at the Oregon Zoo the second Tuesday of every month
– FREE admission at the Portland Art Museum the first Thursday of every month, 5-8pm
– FREE admission at the Portland Children’s Museum the first Friday of every month, 4-8pm
– FREE admission at the Oregon Historical Society & Museum every day for Multnomah County residents

*My friend Laura posts a monthly listing of kid and family-friendly events of natural, scientific, and cultural interest. February’s list is here.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Two upcoming Portland area children & nature events

Attention parents, teachers, school administrators, and informal educators, here are two events of interest being put on by The Intertwine next month:

Children, Nature & Schools Symposium (Oregon Zoo)
March 13 (Mon), 9a-6p
$50, register by 3/8

Clark County Youth & Nature Symposium (Clark College)
March 18 (Sat), 9a-5p
FREE, register by 3/13

Posted in conference, education, intertwine, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Wednesday photo of the week: planting with a hot cocoa face

Have you ever volunteered with a local nature organization or park district? If you’re interested in doing such a thing with your kids, let me know!

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Posted in april hill park, photo of the week, plants, Uncategorized, volunteering | Leave a comment