Earth Day Celebration at Pushroot Community Garden
NOLS and Pushroot Community Garden are at it again! For this year’s Earth Day event, Rocky Mountain Intern Marisa OlGrady and Environmental Stewardship & Sustainability Intern CC Camilliere are working together with Pushroot for a day filled with volunteering and spring cleaning!
Founded in 2008 by a handful of passionate gardeners, Pushroot has blossomed into a vibrant and welcoming part of the Lander Valley community. In addition to providing space for locals to grow their very own organic plants and produce, Pushroot holds workshops in local schools and other nonprofits in town. Their Lights On program is held after school for 3rd-6th graders, and is designed to teach kids about organic gardening, local ecosystems, and in effect connect them to nature. Pushroot is also linked to the Lander Care and Share Food Bank, a partnership through which they inspire and encourage local gardeners to share both their produce and their knowledge with the rest of the community.
To help this garden grow, we will be spending the day volunteering our efforts to prepare for the approaching summer season.
We would love to have you join us on Saturday, April 26th! We will be at the garden from 11am-3pm on 715 Amoretti Street. Children are more than welcome but we request that they be accompanied by an adult. Food and beverages will be provided by Mr. D’s, Safeway, Gannett Grill, and Breadboard. We would also like to thank Valley Printing for donating our beautiful posters. Hope to see you (and the sunshine) there!
There will be a Pushroot Kick-off meeting 7pm on Wednesday, April 23rd at the Lander Library for those interested in having a garden plot this season.
NOLS at the LEED Platinum celebration in Billings, Montana!
WMI Director Melissa Gray and Assistant Director Shana Tarter represented NOLS at a LEED Platinum celebration hosted by High Plains Architects in Billings, MT. High Plains Architects were the lead designers for the Wyss Wilderness Medicine Campus. In addition to a recognition certificate from the Montana chapter of the USGBC, representatives for Montana Senators Jon Tester and John Walsh, and a representative for Governor Steve Bullock shared words of support for sustainable building.
* LEED, or Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design, is a green building certification program that recognizes best-in-class building strategies and practices. To receive LEED certification, building projects satisfy prerequisites and earn points to achieve different levels of certification. Prerequisites and credits differ for each rating system, and teams choose the best fit for their project. http://www.usgbc.org/leed
Run the Red Trail Half Marathon
The Wyoming Outdoor Council, Wyoming Wilderness Association, and NOLS are hosting the first annual Run the Red Trail Half Marathon! Join us on May 31st at 9am in Wyoming's beautiful Red Desert. This area is home to seven proposed Wilderness Areas and stretches over 6 million acres. But don't worry, we're only running a 1/2 Marathon.
This trail run through the Red Desert offers expansive views of the Boar's Tusk, North and South Table Mountains, the Killpecker Sand Dunes, Steamboat Mountain, and the Wind River Mountains. Runners will enjoy wide-open spaces while traversing this wild landscape.
This year is the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act of 1964 and the 30th anniversary of the Wyoming Wilderness Act. Since 1964, more than 100 million acres have been designated as Wilderness. This status provides the highest level of protection for wilderness values, and maintains the area’s pristine state. This race celebrates those achievements and our wild Wyoming places.
Bring family and friends for interpretation of the White Mountain Petroglyphs by renowned naturalist and Red Desert expert John Mionczynski and cool down after the run with yoga provided by Sylvia Carl from Lander's Ananda Yoga Studio!
To sign up, go to
NOLS Invited to D.C. to Support Recreation Enhancement Act
The Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act (FLREA), an act that directly impacts NOLS, is currently up for discussion of reauthorization in the House of Representatives. A member of the Environmental Stewardship & Sustainability department is invited to Washington D.C. this week to add an outfitter’s voice to the discussion. As a recreational outfitter that holds many permits through our country’s federal land agencies, NOLS hopes for a swift and smooth passage of this bill.
FLREA allows the Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, and Forest Service to charge user fees in areas that help maintain recreation areas and improve visitors’ safety and experiences. These fees supply restrooms, picnic tables, trail maintenance, and other amenities to the public. This act’s sunset was postponed following last October’s government shutdown. Its end date was extended for another year, after the act was deemed beneficial and necessary for the continued management of recreation on federal lands.
NOLS supports the speedy and direct reauthorization of FLREA. The consistent and reasonable permit fees in place are beneficial to all players in the recreation economy. Our representative will be testifying at a hearing at the Committee of Natural Resources in front of the subcommittee on Public Lands and Environmental Regulation this Friday morning at 7am MST.
Tune in tomorrow morning and listen to the hearing live!
Climate Change and the Ocean of the Northwest
Following up on the glacier research blog post two weeks ago, the National Park Service has also released a video about the impacts of climate change on the coasts and intertidal biological communities of the Northwest. In this video Dr. Steven Fradkin, coastal ecologist at Olympic National Park, explores these communities on shore and by boat and discusses how the stunning breadth of biological diversity are indicators of environmental health.
Interested in traveling through similar terrain this summer, take a look at the Sea Kayak and Sailing course. Want to explore these same intertidal communities of Olympic National Park while earning a full semester of college credit, check out a Semester in the Pacific Northwest this fall.
NOLS Hosts Wilderness 50th Photo Contest at Faculty Summit
2014 marks the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Wilderness Act. This act, signed in 1964, created a system of designating and protecting certain areas as Wilderness (with the capital “W” that comes from Congressional designation). A Wilderness area is an area of land that is sheltered from development and conserved in its natural form for future generations to enjoy.
NOLS has classrooms in Wilderness areas at each of its domestic locations. To bring awareness to these specific spots, as well as the golden anniversary of the Act, the Environmental Sustainability & Stewardship department is hosting a Wilderness 50th Photo Contest at this year’s Faculty Summit. We are encouraging NOLS staff and instructors to submit their best photos taken in a Wilderness area.
Stay tuned for more contest details and to see the winning photo in May!
Glaciers, Climate Change, and the National Park System
In the North Cascades, scientists are hard at work analyzing glaciers to evaluate the impacts of climate change. In this visually stunning video, Dr. Jon Riedel, lead glaciologist at North Cascades National Park, discusses and interprets his glacier monitoring research.
Many National Park Service employees got their start learning how to safely travel through and lead others in terrain just like this video on a North Cascades Mountaineering or Outdoor Educator Mountaineering course.
Gannett Peak third graders recycle with NOLS
“What happens to all the trash in the landfills?” a Gannet Peak Elementary School third grader asked me. Her classmate helped her out and shouted, “It gets INCINERATED!!” A group of eight- and nine-year olds shrieked and giggled with excitement in the Sinks Canyon State Park Visitors Center. They were out for the day on their monthly visit to the park, where they listen to ecology lessons from park rangers, explore hiking trails on foot or snowshoe, and have special guests from local organizations come visit. I was the lucky visitor this time, ready to teach these kids all about recycling and what it means to be a good steward.
But first, it was lunchtime. Amongst the PB&J-smeared smiles, I suggested that before they throw anything away, they put potential recyclables in a bag off to the side. This exercise got their brains churning and the questions flowing. We gathered in a circle and I held up each piece of lunchtime packaging and asked whether or not it could be recycled. We searched for numbers 1-7 on the plastics, noted whether or not the cardboard qualified, and considered why there were recycling symbols on some things and not on others.
We sorted the items into proper boxes through a frenzied game of recycling basketball. Then after some good hugs and laughs, they were on their merry way for an afternoon hike.
- Plastics #s 1-7
- Mixed paper, pressboard, white office paper
- Egg cartons, toilet paper rolls
- Aluminum cans
- Corrugated cardboard
- Aluminum foil, tin/steel cans
- Glass bottles
NOLS Pacific Northwest Soaks Up the Sun
Newly installed solar panels went live this December at NOLS Pacific Northwest. NOLS PNW is one of nine NOLS locations to use this form of alternative energy. The school teamed up with Bonneville Environmental Foundation (BEF), The North Face, and Whidbey Sun & Wind to install the 9.54 kW solar array that will provide 20 percent of the campus’ electricity needs.
For the past five years, the NOLS strategic plan, Expedition 2013, guided the way for the school’s growth. This plan set goals for NOLS locations to focus on areas such as risk management, access to wilderness classrooms, and environmental stewardship. In pursuit of the environmental stewardship goal, NOLS PNW installed solar panels to decrease their carbon footprint and improve their student and community sustainability education.
“This array not only saves our school significant financial resources, but it also is the right thing to do.” Chris Agnew, NOLS PNW Director, commented enthusiastically.
Chris, the students, and faculty are excited to have a brand new array of 39 solar panels perched on their school’s roof. The new panels are estimated to produce 9,700 kWh annually, which will put a dent in both electricity costs and CO2 emissions. In fact, this past Tuesday, February 25, marked the largest solar energy production day in the history of the NOLS PNW solar panels! Who said Washington can’t get a sunny day in the middle of February?
WMI Works to Reduce Paper Usage
The NOLS Wilderness Medicine Institute hosts 750 courses around the world each year. WMI offers courses for students interested in gaining practical knowledge in backcountry emergency and medical care. Teaching sessions are divided into classroom time and outdoor emergency scenarios. Outside of class, students study hard using their course books. Instructors get packets too, containing logistical information, exams, and quizzes. While WMI instructors are teaching cutting edge curriculum and facilitating lifelike medical scenarios in stunning backcountry settings, folks in the WMI office are fine-tuning another critical component of their courses: the paperwork. Staff took the time to rethink their paper usage in forms and exams with the goal of reducing waste.
To accomplish this, WMI asked a group of instructors to identify what they were and were not using in their packets. Over the years, extra pages have been added into the packet in response to demand. Instructors pointed out the sections of the course packets commonly overlooked or not used, and eliminated those sections. For example, thirty-five pages from the two-day WFA course were removed. That is a 17,500-page reduction for this course type in one year! This will cut down on shipping weight and reduce the amount of paper recycled or thrown away.
More often than not, Wilderness EMT students arrive at their course with a laptop, tablet, or smartphone, and computers and Internet access are available where courses are taught. Transition from paper to electronic tests and quizzes within the WEMT program has been especially beneficial. The paper usage been reduced by 12,500 pieces of paper per year. Instructors also have more flexibility to review exams and identify patterns in performance using item analysis features within the online platform. With this new ability, instructors can eliminate questions or choose to focus more time on certain subject material.
WMI has reassessed their paper usage for every course type. In all, this is expected to save nearly 60,000 pieces of paper annually, the equivalent of a twenty-foot tall stack of paper! This paper reduction movement is another exciting step in the school’s sustainability journey.