It is now officially summer (well not really)! May is nearly over, people are graduating from school and getting ready to go on vacation. But another phase of this internship is only beginning. The new field rangers from the Student Conservation Association arrived a week ago, so in preparation for the season we are to have two weeks of training to get everyone to about the same page (we are about to start the second, to become trained interpreters). After a brief introduction into what field ranger training week was going to be like Brian showed us a chart that showed last year’s park visitor statistics and going off of that trend, things are about to pick up here! This past week, I finally got to meet a lot of people who I have heard about or only knew through email like Darrah Isaacson who is the Public Affairs Specialist and Web Manager. She does not work from our Forest but in the one that is our neighbor, Willamette, so she was excited to learn more about Siuslaw. I have been talking to her about social media and how to promote certain events so it was real nice to actually talk to her in person. I got a lot of my plant questions answered by Marty Stein who is the Forest Service Botanist, when we took a short walk up the Discovery Loop at Cape Perpetua.
We also heard a little bit more about the dunes from Dina Pavlis a Forest service docent. She had a lot of great visuals and ideas of how to do interactive activities that would be good if we had talks with kids. Later on in the week we talked to forest service wildlife biologists such as Cindy Burns who works on the western snowy plover project and Deanna Williams who lead us through a thicket into pacific martin habitat. And it was interesting to hear about both of these sensitive species because they are fighting for the same space. The martin is only found in an area that historically did not exist. Invasive plants changed the habitat from dunes to a forest with thick understory. Mike Northrup helped us understand just how complicated restoration can really be. With the crazy growth of the invasive species and dealing with actually carrying out plans and having the patience to see if what we are doing is actually helping our species.
One of the talks that sticks out particularly was the one given by Joanne Kittel, who is an honorary Trail Member, trauma psychiatrist and a community activist. She told us the devastating history of the Native people who lived here and when they were forced to march from their lands to an encampment. The trail that we met Joanne on commemorates a woman called Amanda that suffered and died on one of these journeys. Joanne was one of many who fought to have this spiritually healing place for descendants of the tribes. It is very important that this place exists in that the tragedy of what happened to the these people is not swept under a rug because it is ugly but that we recognize it and feel it.
The week ended by participating in one of the events for the 50th anniversary of Oregon’s Beach Bill conducting a bioblitz to look for sea stars. A few years ago, Sea stars populations plummeted because they were affected by a virus. Killing off about 80% of them. They have been doing better but scientists are keeping an eye of their status. No one actually knows why this happened but scientists want to encourage citizens to go out and count them so we can get a good view of how they are doing now. This blitz was held at the tide pools of Cape Perpetua. It was a wonderful morning, it was the lowest tide that I had the honor of witnessing and we saw a lot of sea stars and learned about a few other creatures there. Searching for them was really fun, you would look in one area and see one and then get caught up looking at something else. But the longer you looked in a particular area you would start to notice that there were even more sea stars than you initially saw.
The week was so jam-packed full of stuff, it was cool. Although I knew most of what we talked about, there was always something new I was taking from the speaker. It was a really great week, hearing and learning from all of these experts was just amazing.