Yesterday, the Doris Duke Conservation Scholars had their first field day in Cascadia visiting both the Cedar River watershed and the I-90 wildlife corridor. The Doris Duke Conservation Scholars Program at the University of Washington brings together a diverse, committed, and exciting group of students from around the country for an 8-week journey from the urban jungle to the old growth forest and back in Washington. They explore why conservation can make a difference, and how they can make a difference in conservation. One of their topics of focus this summer is climate change.
As they left Seattle, they spent the morning in the Cedar River watershed learning about the issues in managing a forest and landscape that provides Seattle’s water supply. Then as they crossed Snoqualmie Pass, they arrived at Gold Creek pond just east of Snoqualmie Pass to begin their afternoon journey in the I-90 wildlife corridor. They were met by Craig Broadhead (WSDOT), Patty Garvey-Darda (US Forest Service), Jen Watkins (Conservation Northwest and I-90 Wildlife Bridges Coalition), Aja Woodrow (US Forest Service), and Josh Zylstra (WSDOT). Over lunch they got an overview of how partners are working together to address climate change adaptation in the Cascades through the Cascadia Partner Forum in coordination with the North Pacific and Great Northern Landscape Conservation Cooperatives. They also heard the regional context of how the I-90 corridor is the connective link between Washington’s north and south Cascades, and why connectivity is so important for fish and wildlife today and into a changing future. Then, the students were taken on a tour through the I-90 corridor that included remote camera checks and visits to the wildlife underpasses already constructed through the I-90 Snoqualmie Pass East Project.
Today the scholars moved on to other locations and experiences in the Washington including meeting additional partners throughout the Washington portion of the Cascadia landscape. Members the Cascadia Partner Forum will see them again in the Okanogan Valley and North Cascades National Park, where we look forward to continuing the dialogue on how partners are working to create resilient ecosystems at the local scale that add up to making a bigger difference.