Learning the Land: Winter 2023 Walk and Talk Recaps

Chelsea Harris and the group discuss the results of their data collection.

On Saturday, March 18th, GPC members visited Hahobas Shoreline Preserve for a unique Walk and Talk experience made possible by the Mason County Historic Preservation Commission. As a Boy Scout camp for nearly a century, the 160-acre “Camp Hahobas” property was protected by GPC in 2019 with the goal of safeguarding the property’s magnificent rock shoreline and uplands in perpetuity. In taking on this important responsibility, GPC also acknowledges and celebrates the legacy of indigenous stewardship in the region which continues to this day. Guided by speaker Dr. Michael Pavel, GPC members took time to explore the red bluffs which gave Hahobas its name, and were invited to think critically about the important teachings of the plant and animals that have shared the shoreline with the Twana/Skokomish Tribe since time immemorial. GPC staff are incredibly thankful for Dr. Pavel for his contribution of time to the event on behalf of the Coast Salish Wool Weaving Center. 

On March 11, 2023 participants visited Johnson South Sound Refuge with Terence Lee, Science Director at the Nisqually Reach Nature Center to learn how forage fish monitoring can add to our knowledge of the Salish Sea ecosystem. Each year, Terence and a team of volunteers survey the extent and timing of surf smelt and sand lance spawning all along South Sound shorelines, including some of GPC’s preserves. These small schooling fish, often collectively referred to as forage fish, are reliant on natural shorelines for breeding, and their populations are indicators of a healthy marine ecosystems (with direct links to Pacific salmon). Lee led the attendees in a survey, demonstrating beach sampling for the forage fish eggs, sharing why places like the 50-acre Johnson South Sound Refuge is a vital piece of available habitat.

On February 24, 2023 people gathered at Klingel Bryan Beard Wildlife Refuge to celebrate this preserve’s conservation history and learn about the next chapter in ecological restoration and stewardship from Chelsea Harris, a graduate student at Western Washington University, Harris has been working on an assisted migration study at the Klingel Preserve. Part of the study’s goal is to track the growth and mortality of Douglas fir, shore pine, and Garry oaks, which were planted by the volunteers in 2022. Although individual plants are typically rooted in place in their lifetime, all plant populations migrate over the course of generations to exploit favorable conditions and avoid unfavorable ones as change occurs. Assisted migration helps move this natural process along at a pace that could help forests better adapt to rapid climate change. This Walk and Talk was made possible by the Mason County Historic Preservation Commission.

Think these Walk and Talks sound fun? Check out our events page for upcoming Walk and Talks!