Weeds & Wildness

Every inch of this valley floor has aspirations to be a wetland. LIDAR images uncover veins of meander scars converging on the Willamette River from the low hills to the east and west—local tributaries like the Calapooia and Muddy Creek show similar veins. Under the overlay of fescue and orchards and suburbs and roads, a network of buried channels testifies to ancient and not-so-ancient riverbeds and creeks that shielded and nurtured the same populations of frogs, fish, and turtles we now fight so assiduously to preserve.  Greenbelt’s Little Willamette protects a side-channel of the Willamette whose waters fluctuate with the season but thankfully never disappear Read More

Start Seeing Plants

I first encountered the term “plant blindness” when I was teaching Intro Botany for biology majors at Cabrillo Community College in Aptos, CA in 2001. The term was proposed by educators James Wandersee and Elisabeth Schussler in 1998 to describe the lack of interest in plants in the study of biology http://Wandersee&Schussler_Amer.Biol.Teacher_1999. My goal as a teacher was to help my classes overcome their blindness. Since that time, I have worked to educate others on the value and importance of plants, lichens, and fungi. Do you have plant blindness? When you are looking at a scene, do you see a mass of green or do Read More

The Brewstorian- Beers Made By Walking at Owens Farm

What another super day with the Greenbelt Land Trust and local brewers. I think I could get used to doing this every Saturday! Unfortunately I’d never make it to the Corvallis Farmer’s Market if I did, which would be sad because it’s where I get honey and salsa I eat straight from the container. You may want to read this lovely piece in the Gazette Times: “A taste of home: Corvallis brewers tour Owens Farm for inspiration” You may want to check back for more pictures: Yancy Faulkner, one half of the dynamic Hopstories duo, was on hand to take pictures with a real camera.  Read More

The Notion of Nowhere

Where, exactly, is the middle of nowhere? What is it? “Not in or to any place; not anywhere,” if we’re to trust Google. Also: “a place that is remote, uninteresting, or nondescript.” And that’s the key—distance from ourselves. To say somewhere is “the middle of nowhere” says nothing about its intrinsic properties—”nowhere” doesn’t exist on maps1—but it does speak to its human properties. We dismiss a place as “nowhere” when we don’t see our values or history or influence in it. Land isn’t “of a place” (somewhere) or “not of a place” (nowhere)—only we are. If we understand conservation as an effort to re-value natural Read More

Oceans of Blue Camas

Blue camas (Camassia spp) is a tall elegant lily that blooms during the spring in the Pacific Northwest.  Meriwether Lewis on June 12, 1806 noted that “The quawmash is now in blume and from the colour…as a short distance resembles lakes of fine clear water, so complete is this deseption that on first sight I could have swoarn it was water.” Vast camas meadows were common features of wet prairies in the Willamette Valley bottomlands prior to the arrival of Euro-American settlers.  They were an exceptional, highly nutritious food crop for the Kalapuya people in the Valley who harvested and roasted the bulbs in earthen Read More