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.
First National Forest Releases New Management Plan
The eastern half of the Wind River range, as well as the Absaroka range in Wyoming, both lie within the boundaries of the Shoshone National Forest, the first national forest in our country. Originally created as a timber reserve for Yellowstone National Park in 1891, the Shoshone has maintained its wildness: over half the land is designated Wilderness. Among this land lie thousands of miles of hiking trails that bring adventurers around lakes and through mountains. The endless vistas, opportunities for solitude, and abundant wildlife attract tourists, locals, and NOLS courses to come and explore.
Photo: NOLS Archives
Early in the new year, the Shoshone National Forest released its newly revised Land Management Plan. Last revised in 1986, the new plan highlights important components that reflect the demands of our ever-changing world. Topics include reducing recreation impacts on the forest, protecting unidentified wilderness from road construction, and expanding education and outreach to visitors.
The plan revision process for the Shoshone has been ongoing since 2005, and NOLS has been an active participant in the process at each stage. Courses backpack, climb, and mountaineer while traveling through the Shoshone and surrounding wilderness areas each year. One noteworthy component of the new plan for outfitters was the emphasis on mitigation of recreation impact on the Forest. Leave No Trace principles of minimum impact camping become second nature for students on each course. While exploring the backcountry, they learn about the importance of conserving the wilderness in which they are travelling.
In addition to the reduction of recreation impact on the Forest, the plan institutes several other management changes. Grizzly bear monitoring and protection will increase, and more bear boxes will be installed. Mountain biking will be available in the Dunoir, which will no doubt excite cyclists. The total acreage of land available for oil and gas leasing will be reduced, and sections of certain rivers will be examined for eligibility as Wild and Scenic Rivers.
NOLS courses that explore the Shoshone and its surrounding lands find an abiding connection with the wilderness they call home for a short while. Past students had the opportunity to share their opinions on the Shoshone draft plan. Their voices echoed the importance of keeping this Forest pristine and protected through continued conservation efforts, education for visitors, and minimum impact travel.
NOLS expects courses to continue traveling on the Shoshone for years to come. To read another article related to NOLS’ relationship with the Shoshone NF, turn to page 6 of this issue of The Leader.
Imagine your 2014 summer
Summer is here!
Well, at least the 2014 summer NOLS course catalog is here, and that's even better, because you still have time to plan the perfect summer with NOLS.
We have boxes and boxes and boxes of the summer catalog here at NOLS Headquarters, so request one here. If you'd prefer a paperless version, we've got you covered, too. Download the iPad version of the 2014 summer catalog here.
Permalink | Posted by Casey Adams on Jan 16, 2014 in the following categories: Alaska, Alumni, Amazon, Australia, Curriculum, Environmental Stewardship & Sustainability, India, Instructor News, Leadership, Mexico, New Zealand, Northeast, On The Net, Pacific Northwest, Patagonia, Professional Training, Rocky Mountain, Scandinavia, Southwest, Teton Valley, Wilderness Medicine Institute, Wyss Wilderness Medicine Campus, Yukon
If you keep an eye on the NOLS blog, you will have noticed the Wyss Wilderness Medicine Campus (WWMC) popping up time and time again. From breaking ground in Red Canyon two years ago to the transformation into a fully functioning campus, it has been an exciting journey. NOLS, along with High Plains Architects, P.C., is proud to announce the most recent milestone in that journey. As of December 3, 2013, the WWMC is LEED® Platinum certified.
The WWMC is certified under the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED for New Construction and Major Renovation v2009 rating system. LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, ratings take into account six main categories: sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, and indoor environmental quality. In obtaining this certification, the WWMC became the second building in Lander to receive a LEED certification and the fifth building in Wyoming to receive a LEED Platinum certification.
At NOLS, we foster a culture of sustainability in which environmentally responsible decisions are an integral part of life. The WWMC was designed with these values in mind. The campus is highly water and energy efficient and is well adapted to its arid environment. Additionally, students are encouraged to make decisions and behavioral changes that minimize their footprints while at the campus and in their everyday lives. Together with other NOLS facilities around the world, we are part of a truly global effort to promote sustainability.
You can read more about this achievement here, and more about NOLS’ commitment to sustainability and stewardship here. To all the folks who helped us reach this goal, thank you and congratulations! We did it!
NOLS 2013 Stewardship Award goes to Myron Jeffs of the BLM Henry Mountain Field Office
On Saturday, Oct. 12, the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) awarded its 2013 Stewardship Award to Myron Jeffs, outdoor recreation planner for the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Henry Mountain Field Office in Hanksville, Utah. The NOLS Stewardship Award, presented annually since 1990, recognizes individuals who have demonstrated exceptional stewardship of public lands and the environment.
NOLS chose to honor Jeffs for the exceptional role he plays as liaison to the private and commercial outdoor recreation community. Outdoor enthusiasts of all stripes benefit from Jeffs’ balanced and communicative approach to recreation planning. Visitors from around the country and the globe leave the Henry Mountain Field Office with a better understanding of issues facing public lands after interacting with Jeffs, thanks to the high bar he sets for outreach and dialogue.
On NOLS canyoneering courses along the Dirty Devil River, Jeffs visits with every course. He facilitates engaging land management discussions with NOLS students, as well as with other recreation clubs and outdoor education organizations. In that same vein, he regularly facilitates and encourages volunteerism among outdoor recreation groups.
NOLS Rocky Mountain Assistant Director Andy Blair said NOLS students and instructors alike are enthusiastic about their discussions with Jeffs.
“They are impressed with how open, candid, and objective [Jeffs] has been when they ask about various management topics,” said Blair. “These topics range across a wide spectrum including recreational impacts, group size, grazing, oil and gas and mineral development.”
Originally from Castle Dale, Utah, Jeffs has a long history of working on public lands in the west. Prior to his current position, he worked for the Price BLM Field Office, Nevada State Parks and for Utah State Parks.
Taking Stock of the Government Shutdown
Tourists and wedding hopefuls weren’t the only ones disappointed by the closure of the National Parks and other public lands during the partial government shutdown. As barricades and closure signs adorned the normally welcoming entrances to parks and national forests, those in the outdoor education industry were, in some cases, left without a classroom. Several NOLS locations had to re-route courses at the last minute, quickly adapting and finding new locations for several courses.
- A Semester in the Northwest course had its hiking section moved from North Cascades National Park to the adjacent Okanogan Wenatchee National Forest and was able to run without further complications. Another Semester in the Northwest course was scheduled to run their coastal hiking section in Olympic National Park and instead they hiked on Nootka Island, off the west coast of Vancouver Island.
- NOLS Southwest had a canoeing section scheduled to run through Big Bend National Park in western Texas and had to relocate upriver to Big Bend Ranch State Park. During the two days of logistics and shuffling around the students were sent to a primitive skills camp just outside of Tucson. The students ran the same part of the river twice, as entrance downriver into the National Park was off-limits. A custom course with NASA at NOLS Southwest was also postponed.
- At NOLS Rocky Mountain, a climbing course scheduled for Devil’s Tower National Monument moved to Vedauwoo.
- NOLS Teton Valley was not affected, but if the shutdown had taken place during the river running season, a course that runs through the Salmon-Challis National Forest likely would have been re-routed.
Though public lands have re-opened, the shutdown will continue to have rippling effects as commercial outfitters try to regain the momentum they lost.
Former NOLS Chair honored
The Murie Center presented former NOLS Board of Trustees Chair Gretchen Long with the third annual Spirit of Conservation Award last week.
Long is a 1991 graduate of the 25 and over Baja Sea Kayaking course and was named chairman of the NOLS Board in 1998. She is also an emeritus board member of The Murie Center.
The Murie Center Spirit of Conservation Award is presented to an individual whose life work demonstrates a commitment to conservation, civility, and community—trademarks of the Murie family legacy. The Murie Center, in partnership with the Grand Teton National Park, engages people to understand and commit to the enduring value of conserving wildlife and wild places.