Friday, January 13, 2017

The Hoffstadt Visitor Center Fiasco

Photo: Mt. St. Helens and the Toutle River Valley as seen from Hoffstadt Visitor Center.
The history of the  spectacular region surrounding Mt. St. Helens is a litany of poor management decisions. From crooked land deals that lost us millions of acres of public land, to the stripping of the ancient forests that once blanketed that land, to the inadequate size of Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument, to the haphazard development of said monument, and countless other gaffs and disasters, this corner of the Cascades has not been treated well. The hocking of the Hoffstadt Visitor Center is the latest in this long line of poor decisions.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Barrier Falls

Deep in the woodland hills of the Northern Oregon Coast range can be found many hidden valleys with tumbling streams - the quiet of this forest realm broken only by the roar of many falls and the song of forest wrens. However, the unfortunate truth is that much of this country lacks protected status, let alone trails. One of the few exceptions to this rule is the verdant canyon of Gnat Creek, along which several miles worth of trails may be traveled - the star attraction of which is the small, yet impressive cascade of Barrier Falls. In season it is a cauldron of boiling white froth that dwindles to a trickle of crystal in the dry months of summer.

Gnat Creek/Clatsop Crest State Park Proposal

Puget Island in the Columbia River from the Clatsop Crest
Over the years I have driven over the hills that lie between Astoria and Clatskanie many times, and every time I am struck by the region's beauty, and also by its sad neglect. Once upon a time the Southern shore of the Lower Columbia River was a tourism destination, but for some time now it has been unfortunately forgotten. Casual travelers seldom guess at the hidden beauty that can be found here - at the waterfalls that tumble through hidden glens, the quiet valleys, or the rugged ridges ripe for exploration. At the moment this obscurity is for the best - most of the falls lie on private property, and public access is tolerated only due to their lack of use & the respect shown by visitors. Where public land is found, few trails allow for easy or pleasant walking due to the intense logging that dominates both state and private land here.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Autumn bounty - photo gallery & timelapse video

Happy Thanksgiving! After badly neglecting Illuminations from the Attic this fall I decided to bring you some of the best of my autumn photographs. Our gardens were bountiful indeed this year - honeycrisp apples, cucumbers, tomatoes, and a few potatoes made their way to our table. The trees also put on a spectacular show, and I've included a few of my finest photographs of fall foliage. I hope you enjoy this visual feast as much as that laid upon your table.

Friday, November 4, 2016

For the sake of our public lands, please vote!

I cannot stress how important public lands are for me, and not just for the obvious reason of recreation. If I were never to visit a park again I would still take comfort and joy in the knowledge that the wild places I love are still wild and pristine. Public land is owned by us all; it is the common ground we all can share, and America would not be the same country without its parks and forests. However, all that could change this year.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

6 National Monuments Obama should create before he leaves office.

Obama has already protected vast areas of land and water under the antiquities act - Katahdin Woods and Waters, a vast area of ocean off the Atlantic Coast, the San Gabriel Mountains - and 20 other places now owe their status as National Monuments to the current President. However, he still has a few months in office, and there are still many spectacular regions in urgent need of the protections his executive order would grant.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Cutthroat Climb Trail

The art of humans and the art of nature - both unique and wonderful in their own ways- are found here in a misty valley on the shores of Willapa Bay. Not so long ago, this whole region was blanketed in virgin old growth forest, but now after decades of logging, nearly all of it is gone. Willapa National Wildlife Refuge protects what little is left, as well as forests that will now be allowed to grow until one day they may be as grand as they once were.