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Smile! You're on Cascades candid camera

Posted by bchristensen at Apr 29, 2008 03:55 PM |

Snowshoes, a camera in a (hopefully) bear-proof case, stinky lure, and some stout volunteers make their way into the woods to help our Cascades Citizen Wildlife Monitoring Project, and I went along for the ride.

Smile! You're on Cascades candid camera

Volunteer Todd Stiles and I reach our tree! The Camera will be mounted here to hopefully capture some rare North Cascaded critters!

As the volunteer trainings wrap up for our Cascades Citizen Wildlife Monitoring Project, teams are heading out to the field to install equipment to catch photographs of critters in the Cascades. I joined two trips to help with the install and what an experience!

The first camera went on an island of trees between north and southbound lanes on Interstate 90. As you may know, Conservation Northwest administers the I-90 Wildlife Bridges Coalition (managed by yours truly), which has successfully advocated for safe wildlife passage structures to be included in the I-90 Expansion east of Snoqualmie Pass Cascade Mountains. We want to document the animals that are hanging out there before finishing their cross of the roadway. The island was still pretty covered in snow, and it is remarkable to consider that amongst the loud noise of the interstate is a small refuge where animals either take a break or, sadly, often crawl following a collision with a vehicle. Just think how much better a safe passageway made just for the wildlife would be!

The second set of cameras was far from the sounds of the interstate, near Hyas Lake at the southern end of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. I took my first snowmobile ride to the wilderness boundary with the guidance of Todd Stiles from the Cle Elum Ranger District, and then snowshoed into the camera site. I much prefer the quieter mode of transport! At this site, the cameras are set on top of over 6 feet of snowpack in the forest to hopefully capture wildlife activity before and during snowmelt. Cameras are being placed out in remote areas to define baseline data and hopefully capture photos of the rarer species of the cascades. You can see some of our wildlife superstars from previous years on YouTube videos from a camera on the Teanaway in 2007 and on our slideshow.

Stay tuned for more video and pictures as the results come back from this year's cameras.

Hyak MartenThe monitoring project is a joint project of Conservation Northwest, I-90 Wildlife Bridges Coalition, and the Wilderness Awareness School. The program combines snowtracking in the winter months with year-long remote camera work in key locations. Its three goals are:

  • To collect baseline data on wildlife presence in Washington's Cascades along Interstate 90 and in core habitats through remote cameras and snowtracking
  • To record the presence of rare and sensitive species in the Cascades that conservation efforts aim to recover and the I-90 project hopes to connect (i.e., wolverine and North Cascades grizzly bear)
  • To engage and educate citizens on wildlife monitoring in the critical habitat of Washington's Cascades
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