Skip to body


Scheduled Presentations, AWG 2013

Paper Presentations

Paul Blanton,, Central Washington University.

Eye in the sky, eye of the fish: Perspectives on multi-scale analysis of salmon habitat and floodplain connectivity (paper).  Salmon populations declined drastically in the Pacific Northwest in the 20th century, and habitat degradation is recognized as a key factor in this decline, and a limitation to salmon population restoration.  There is a growing recognition that effective restoration and management of river systems requires approaches that address the issue at the scale(s) at which salmon interact with their environment at different life stages.  Many researchers are now advocating for a synoptic or continuous approach for stream ecology, and claim that current site-scale approaches focusing on sampling and extrapolation are inadequate for understanding how fish interact with their habitat in the riverscape. Habitat connectivity has also emerged as a unifying theme in river science, helping to explain the relationship between hydrology, geomorphology, and population dynamics. The critical missing piece in our understanding of the riverscape is found in intermediate scales, between the basin-wide scale where land use and other patterns are readily quantified by traditional remote sensing approaches, and the habitat scale of traditional field data collection. Here I use my study of floodplain disconnection caused by transportation infrastructure at the national, regional, and local scales as an example of such multi-scale analysis, and discuss how remote sensing, GIS, novel field approaches, and agent-based modeling may be used to study relationships between aquatic organisms and their environment in the context of land use and habitat fragmentation.

Markus Chisholm,, Central Washington University, and Jennifer Lipton,, Central Washington Univeristy,

Food Security in Kivalina, Alaska: Addressing Vulnerability Factors and Adaptive Capacities (paper). Weakening development of coastal sea ice, record-breaking super-storms from the Bering Sea, and permafrost beaches that crumble into the sea are a few reasons why Kivalina has emerged as the world's canary in the coalmine for communities dealing with the severe environmental impacts of climate change. Scientists, authors, and film crews alike have crowded the ever-shrinking field that is Kivalina—a tiny whaling community situated on a barrier island 80 miles above the Arctic Circle along Alaska's northwest coast. Recent publications focused on Kivalina only seem to address climate change and climate change-induced relocation, called climigration. As Kivalina prepares to relocate several miles inland, food security must come into focus for the village as well as for resource managers at various levels. Baseline studies recently performed by the subsistence division of Alaska's Department of Fish and Game that assessed food security in Kivalina have revealed per capita food harvests have steadily decreased in recent years. As this whaling community prepares to abandon the coast for higher ground, food security must be reassessed. This case-study takes a holistic approach by exploring how environmental, cultural, social, political, and economic issues shape food security for Kivalina as it prepares for its new chapter. In this study, food security will be a measure of resource access, distribution, community resilience, and vulnerability. Based on ethnographic research, this case study explores the current status of food security in Kivalina as well as future food security in the eventuality of inland community relocation.

Susan Digby,, Olympic College.

Andy Goldsworthy’s Land Art: A Secular Pilgrimage relating to both regional and educational journeys (paper). Sculptures by Andy Goldsworthy have been built into refuges in the South of France.  The refuges, buildings built on the foundations of ancient ruins in long-abandoned hamlets, are linked by a 100 mile walking circuit through the rugged country of France’s Haute Provence.  Once an agriculturally self-sufficient region and the site of many hamlets that took advantage of small pockets of land in the mountains, today the route traverses land that is lonely and remote.  The six refuges, together with way-marker cairns, and a gallery installation, are designed as one artwork.  Visitors’ comments in log books reveal these sites to be places of contemplation such that the route over ancient paths is, for some, a secular pilgrimage.  In addition to remaking and reclaiming a region, logbook comments and our own experiences demonstrate that the artwork promotes introspection.  What relevance does this have to education in sustainability and student success?  To be in touch with the land through one’s feet and one’s shelter is to build a foundation for environmental and cultural stewardship.  Additionally, educational journeys are demanding like the terrain in France; student success depends on us establishing way-finding structures and refuges.  However, not all refuges are necessarily comfortable; they too can be places of tension, challenge and learning.  Finally, in terms of our own personal sustainability as educators this artwork reminds us that we need time to reflect and to dream such that we move forward with strength and vision.

Nancy Hultquist,, Central Washington University and John Bowen,, Central Washington University.

Compressing Nature: The Development of the Inland Pacific Northwest Export Hay Industry (paper). Every day, dozens of trucks make two roundtrips apiece hauling hay from Washington’s Kittitas County to the Ports of Tacoma and Seattle where the containerized feed will be loaded on ships bound for Japan, China, and still more distant markets. The rapid growth of the export hay industry helps explain Washington’s membership in a group of just five states having trade surpluses with both China and Japan in 2011. In fact, the industry is robust in the interior not only of Washington but also Oregon, California, and even farther inland. In this article, the growth and significance of the hay industry in the U.S. West and especially Kittitas County are assessed. Drawing on interviews with hay growers and export-processors, the physical, economic, technological, and social factors that have favored the industry’s emergence are examined. While the hay industry is fundamentally rooted in the region’s seemingly natural advantages of soils and climate, a variety of forces at the global, regional, and local scales have augmented those benefits and propelled the industry’s rise. The article ends by looking toward the future opportunities and constraints the region’s hay industry faces – especially the growth of emerging markets and the concerns about the adequacy of water supplies, respectively.

David Jeschke, Tacoma Community College & Washington Department of Natural Resources,,

Using Google Earth in the On Line Physical Geography Classroom (paper).

Google Earth has proven to be a valuable tool in teaching Physical Geography on line at Tacoma Community College. The book “Encounter Geosystems” from Pearson Prentice Hall provides out-of-the-box exercises, along with KMZ overlay files which allow the student to explore a variety of themes and concepts in Physical Geography using 3 dimensional maps. I have also developed an activity in which students use Google Earth to visualize recent housing development in the 500 year lahar zone near Orting, WA. Finally, I assign students a capstone project in which they produce a recording of a landform shown from a variety of angles and distances along with their own voiceover describing the physical processes which brought about their chosen landform.

Tim Scharks,, Green River Community College.

Using HBO's The Wire to teach introductory human geography to non-majors (paper). Abstract: What if students walked into the first day of class to be told they needed to watch 4 hours of television every week to succeed? I modified my 200-level Human Geography course to center on the first three seasons of acclaimed HBO series The Wire. This course was inspired by a similar, but 400-level, urban geography course at the University of Oregon. Teaching a course dealing with urban geography topics for community college students through The Wire presents unique challenges, including: students with no background in geography; a sexually explicit and profane fictional (yet realistic) treatment of urban issues as text; and devising lessons and evaluation methods to suit the format. I'll discuss the lessons learned over three quarters of teaching the course.

Taylor Steele,, Central Washington University.

Examining the Relationship Between Farmers' Markets and Obesity Rates in Washington State (paper). There is a growing awareness that America's obesity issue is linked to poor eating habits.  Healthy food options may be inaccessible to large segments of the population, especially for those with reduced mobility including the poor and elderly. Farmers' markets are one way to alleviate these problems of accessibility by providing healthy, locally sourced foodstuffs. In Washington State there is legislation (Substitute House Bill 2402 and the Senate Farm Bill) promoting farmers’ markets and healthy food choices.  Using geographic information systems (GIS), this study evaluates the spatial relationship between local obesity rates and consumer proximity to farmers’ markets.  Results show that there are lower rates of obesity in counties that have greater access to farmers’ markets, suggesting that farmers’ markets are providing a healthy food option to local consumers.  These findings may help spur further legislation and incentives promoting farmers’ markets in Washington State and beyond.

Megan Walsh,, Central Washington University, Kevin Haydon,, Central Washington University, and Haley Duke,, Central Washington University.

Late Holocene fire and vegetation history of two low elevation sites in the Pacific Northwest (paper). The goal of this study is to evaluate the role of fire in low-elevation ecosystems of the Pacific Northwest during the Holocene. Two study sites, one located on the west side of the Cascade Mountains in the Willamette Valley of northwestern Oregon, the other located on the east side in the Sinlahekin Valley of north-central Washington are evaluated are discussed. Sediment cores spanning the last 3500 years were obtained from Lake Oswego (Clackamas County, OR) and Fish Lake (Okanogan County, WA) and analyzed for fossil pollen and macroscopic charcoal. Results from both sites show that fires burned frequently during the last 3500 years. Fire frequency increased at Lake Oswego ca. AD 0-1000 and was highest during the Medieval Climatic Anomaly. Following this, fire dropped sharply and little to no fire activity occurred at Lake Oswego during the last 300 years. At Fish Lake, fire activity increased ca. AD 1200 and peaked between AD 1750 and 1850. This was followed by a sharp decline to almost no fire activity by ca. 1900. There has been little recorded fire activity at Fish Lake in the last approximately 100 years. The Fish Lake record is especially compelling because it clearly shows that low-severity fires (inferred from the high percentage of herbaceous charcoal) occurred frequently in the dry ponderosa pine forests of the eastern Cascades for the last several millennia, until the suppression era. Our results will be discussed in the context of both climatic and human influences on past fire and vegetation patterns.


Mark Weidenaar,, Central Washington University. Karl Lillquist,, Central Washington University

Rock Glaciers in the Eastern Cascades, Washington (paper). The eastern portion of Washington State's Cascade Range is a place not previously examined for rock glaciers, due to proximity to the Pacific Ocean and its associated marine-influenced climate. The objectives of this study were to determine spatial, activity, and genesis patterns, and paleoclimatic implications of Eastern Cascade rock glaciers. Using Google Earth, I found 103 rock glaciers in the study area. Rock glaciers are more common further east of the Cascade crest and more north in latitude, with the largest concentrations occurring east of Lake Chelan (22) and in the Pasayten Wilderness (28) in the North Cascades. None were found south of the Goat Rocks. Rock glaciers generally face north to northeast. Genesis types include 72 debris, 23 gelifluction, and 8 glaciogenic types. Debris-type rock glaciers occur throughout the range and from 20-70km east of the crest. Gelifluction-types occur north of 48°N, and range from 25-45km east of the crest. Glaciogenic-types occur north of 48°N and <40km east of the crest. Activity levels rise with elevation, with 31 active rock glaciers above 2000m, 55 inactive between 1600-2200m, and 18 relict below 1900m. These patterns suggest a strong past and present climatic role in determining Eastern Cascade rock glacier distribution. Out of the eight rock glaciers visited in the field, five are Little Ice Age (LIA) features, while two are much older. These eight rock glaciers and data from other sources suggest a 250-300m rise in the 0°C isotherm over the last 100-150 years, with a 2°C general increase in temperature in the Eastern Cascades since the end of the LIA.


Poster Presentations

Mallory Burgess,, Eastern Washington University.

Paleo-Winds Indicated by Loess Distribution in Eastern Washington (poster). This study illustrates the wind patterns that formed the Palouse through deposition of loess. The first step was to generate a map showing the distribution of loess particle size in the Palouse region. One can generate isolines showing a gradient of particle size downwind. As particle size decreases with distance from the source, it’s possible to derive the general wind patterns which deposited the loess. The project is based on data from archived soil surveys created by the NRCS for Lincoln, Whitman, Spokane, and Adams Counties in Washington. The study is limited to soils composed of loess. The map’s points were plotted using the soil type localities to generate a map in ArcMap to illustrate the percentages of particles which passed through a No. 200 sieve. With the data table I created, the name of each soil, and percentage of particles through a No. 4 sieve and a No. 10 sieve will also be displayed.

Tamara Cox,, Central Washington University.

The Role of Fire in the Persistence of Montane Meadow Environments in the Willamette National Forest, Oregon (poster). Historical records document the use of fire by Native Americans to maintain low elevation fire-adapted ecosystems in the western United States prior to Euro-American settlement, but little is known about prehistoric burning patterns in mid-elevation forest/meadow environments. Resources such as beargrass (Xerophyllum tenax) and huckleberries (Vaccinium spp.) which are known to have been economically and culturally significant to Native Americans are found in these environments, and both species benefit from low-severity fire regimes. Today montane meadows are disappearing presumably due to the lack of Native American-set fires combined with fire suppression policies of the twentieth century although climatic changes over the last century also remain a possible cause. The purpose of this study is to reconstruct the fire and vegetation history of mid-elevation forest/ meadow ecotonal environments in the western cascades of Oregon. In 2012, lake sediment cores were extracted from Blair Lake (1451 meter elevation) near the town of Oakridge, Oregon. This lake is surrounded by forests dominated by Pacific silver fir (Abies amabilis) and mountain hemlock (Tsuga mertensiana) and meadows containing beargrass and huckleberries. Charcoal and pollen are currently being analyzed from these sediments in order to establish shifts in the fire and vegetation regimes. Preliminary results show a relatively high amount of fire activity at Blair Lake during the late Holocene. These reconstructions will be compared to regional climatic records, Forest Service fire data, historical accounts, and archaeological records in order to determine their respective influence on montane meadows.

Serafina Ferri,, Central Washington University.

Groundwater Contamination and Archaeological Resources Hanford Nuclear Reservation, Washington (poster). This research focuses on the historical over view, remediation procedures, and documenting the environmental impact of Hanford Nuclear Reservation. As a result of the production and disposal methods of nuclear waste Hanford site has had major implications on the environment. When production ended in the 1980’s there were more than 100,000 Uranium fuel rods on site. The K-basin, for example, held two nuclear reactors for plutonium production. A combination of core reactors leaking and holding pond overflows leached contaminants into the groundwater. Multiple methods were used to store nuclear waste and hazardous chemicals including; holding ponds, unlined pits, trenches, landfills, reverse wells and underground storage tanks. As a result, contamination has caused major implications on the environment, and contaminated pre-contact archaeological sites including: pre-contact pit houses, hunting and kill sites. In 1994, the remediation process began to extract contaminated water and sediment. The degree to which these sites have been compromised is unknown. This research identifies environmental issues associated with Hanford, and clean-up procedures during remediation processes. It is important to know the history of Hanford and its adverse effects on the environment as well as cultural resources.

Kevin C Haydon,, Central Washington University and Megan K Walsh, PhD,, Central Washington University.

Analysis of Past and Current Wildfire Trends in the Sinlahekin Wildlife Area, Washington, Using GIS and Paleoecological Methods (poster). The ponderosa pine forests east of the Cascade Mountains are a fire-adapted ecosystem; however, as the fire season of 2012 has shown these forests have become highly susceptible to catastrophic wildfire, largely due to a build-up of surplus fuel. The need to better manage these forests is clear, but a deeper understanding of long-term linkages between fire and climate is needed. Research addressing this is currently being conducted in the Sinlahekin Wildlife Area, located within the ponderosa pine zone east of the Cascades in Okanogan County, WA. The purpose of this research is 1) to determine the effectiveness of federal fire suppression policy and its impact on fire activity during the last century; and 2) to reconstruct the Holocene fire history which can be used to develop fire management plans for the wildlife area. GIS was used to evaluate the effectiveness of 100 years of fire suppression in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest. This analysis indicates that fire suppression was very effective during the first 50 years. However, despite technological advancements in wildfire suppression, area burned greatly increased in the latter portion of the century. To develop long-term records of fire history, Holocene-length sediment cores were retrieved from Blue Lake and Doheney Lake during summer 2011. Macroscopic charcoal analysis is being used to reconstruct the fire history of the sites. Preliminary results indicate major shifts in fire activity prior to and after Euro-American settlement. These records will be evaluated within the context past climate variability, local vegetation change, and human activities.

Krista Evans,, Central Washington University.

The Middle of Nowhere? Managing Northern Rocky Mountain Ghost Towns (poster). Managing and preserving remote Western ghost towns can be challenging.  Ghost town heritage managers face several issues, from implementing a preservation strategy to attracting enough visitors to remain economically viable.  This poster explores current management and preservation schemes used at Northern Rocky Mountain ghost towns and examines the interesting challenges facing these remote places.  My poster will explore how tourist perceptions of the ghost town landscape influence cultural resource management. I will focus on four geographically isolated Northern Rocky Mountain ghost towns which I have chosen for my thesis research, but will also draw upon preservation issues facing other Western ghost towns.  This poster will provide geographers and heritage preservationists with information and suggestions regarding how to best manage these places in addition to contributing to a greater understanding of Western ghost town dynamics.

Jonathan Kemp,, Western Washington University.

 Investigating an Effective Data Collection Protocol and Database Schema for Monitoring, Storing, and Analyzing Natural Disaster Recovery Information (poster). As it exists today there is a surplus of natural disaster recovery information available to researchers in various formats, with various levels of reliability. A challenging stage for any project is asking what data needs to be collected and acquiring that information for analyzation, examination, and action. A solution to simplify these first two stages is the creation of a protocol and schema for emergency managers to follow and use when they are assessing their particular data needs. This protocol and schema would act as a systematic framework for collecting, storing, and accessing natural disaster recovery data that range significantly in data quality and availability. This study aims to develop such a protocol and somewhat prototype the storage database for gathered information using two case studies that are variable in disaster event sizes. A look into future works will also be provided highlighting how this study could improve the way disaster managers are able to perform their research.

Sarah Lindell,, Western Washington University.

Cell Phone Use and Place Attachment in Outdoor Recreation Settings (poster). This project investigates the impact of cell phone use on the development of place attachment in mountain recreation environments. An attachment to place in nature settings facilitates wellbeing and pro-environmental behaviors. Cell phone use is prevalent in American society and may alter the experience of a place. The effect of cell phone use on experience in outdoor recreation is under-researched. Place attachment is a tool to assess one dimension of the outdoor recreation experience. The future research project will include hiker surveys and statistical analysis of data.

Lillian Luk,, Central Washington University and Megan Walsh,, Central Washington University.

Fire history of ponderosa pine forest in the eastern Cascades, Washington (poster). Wildfires are historically common in the ponderosa pine forests of the eastern Cascade Mountains and are critical for maintaining forest health. These forests have been dramatically modified for the past ~100 years by human activities such as fire suppression. The effects of this were not noticed until recently, but in the last several decades it has become evident that these forests are experiencing larger, more devastating fire events, such as the Taylor Bridge and Table Mountain fires. The purpose of this study was to reconstruct the recent fire history of Green Lake, located in Okanogan County, Washington, approximately five miles northwest of the town of Omak, by analyzing macroscopic charcoal in a lake sediment core from the site. The core was analyzed at contiguous 1-cm intervals for the past ~1000 years, and only charcoal particles >125 microns were identified and counted, as they indicate local fires. Charcoal peaks were used for determining past changes in fire frequency. The charcoal record from the past century has been compared with that of the previous ~900 years. Preliminary results show fluctuations of charcoal in the past century but a general trend to larger fire events; whereas the (past ~400 years) shows smaller fire events. This study furthers our understanding of fire activity in such landscapes.

Stephanie Messa,, Western Washington University,

Managing unpredictability in a complex system (poster). The Abbotsford-Sumas aquifer located along the border of Southern British Columbia and Western Washington is used by over 100,000 people.  This aquifer has been plagued with nitrate contamination well above the safe drinking water standards on either side of the border for over a decade.  Studies have proven that a reduction in nitrate leaching is necessary to improve the health of the aquifer. Several organizations at various scales have set out to accomplish this task.  One of these organizations is the Abbotsford-Sumas International Task Force, a subcommittee of the Environmental Cooperation Council.  The task force was initiated after the ECC declared the aquifer one of the five highest environmental priorities and was created as part of an agreement in 1992. Although it has recommended various best management practices, it has not been successful in reducing nitrate; the levels remain above the acceptable 10 mg/l.  Further, the task force took a six year hiatus from 2007-2013, but has recently reconvened.  In typical environmental management scenarios this would indicate a crisis-mode, which begs the question why has the task force re-started and will the institution be more resilient than it was?  Could an adaptive management framework help to account for the unpredictability of the system which has prevented the success of management thus far?

Helen Mockel,, Central Washington University and Dr. Megan Walsh,, Central Washington University.

Bench Lake: Analysis of Cascadian Forest Resilience Following Volcanic Ash Fall (poster). When Mount Saint Helens exploded in 1980, its lateral blast devastated a large tract of forest north of the mountain, an area that is still recovering more than 30 years later. While scientists continue to study the regeneration of this forest, little research has been done concerning the distant effects of explosive volcanic eruptions on forests in the Cascades. The high-elevation forests of Mt. Rainier National Park, which receive fallout from both Mt. Rainier and Mt. Saint Helens, are an ideal location to analyze the impacts of, and recovery from, volcanic ash fall. Bench Lake, which is within the park, was chosen for this study because of its location within a high-altitude subalpine fir forest. In the summer of 2012, a 2.95 meter long lake sediment core was collected from this site in order to investigate the impacts of volcanic ash fall. To do this, macroscopic charcoal and pollen analysis are being used to reconstruct the fire and vegetation history of the site within the last 10,000 years. Preliminary charcoal counts indicate that changes in fire activity have varied considerably throughout the late Holocene. The ongoing Bench Lake charcoal analysis has shown that fires in this area are more frequent than originally expected. The pollen analysis, which will be conducted in the coming year, should shed more light on the forest response to major volcanic eruptions.

Jeremy W. Ripin,, Central Washington University

The Impact of Hurricane Katrina on the Coastal Vegetation near New Orleans, Louisiana from NDVI Data (poster). Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) values were used to evaluate changes in vegetation health after Hurricane Katrina (2005) for areas around New Orleans, Louisiana. Landsat TM satellite images were acquired for before landfall (August 3, 2005), after landfall (September 7, 2005), and 13 months after landfall (September 26, 2006). The August 2005 to September 2005 image comparison showed overall average NDVI values decreased 24% after landfall. Continuing into the next year, NDVI values were nearly 7% lower in September 2006 than in August 2005. Among habitat types emergent wetlands experienced the largest average NDVI value decrease (-22%) after landfall. Evergreen forests recovered the least remaining 18% lower in September 2006 than in August 2005. This research suggests that NDVI can be useful in understanding the sensitivity and recovery of vegetation after a major hurricane event.

Jared Trammell,, Central Washington University,

Managing Freshwater Resources in Historic Palestine (poster). What role do fresh water resources have in the peace negotiations between Palestinian and Israeli and what recent efforts have both countries participated in to compensate for their freshwater shortcomings? With rapid increase in Israeli and Palestinian populations, industrialization and climate change, water resources in historic Palestine are quickly diminishing. Revision of natural resource management in the region is long over due. Until unsustainable water resource management practices and water consumption habits change, geopolitical stability in the region will continue to be unattainable. The first step in resolving water issues between Palestine and Israel is to address water usage habits.

Anna Yost,, Central Washington University, Robert Hickey,, Central Washington University, and Tom Cottrell,, Central Washington University, Chris Danilson,, Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Estimating Elk Home Range - Significance of Estimation Technique for Habitat Management (poster). The choice of elk home range estimation technique influences how elk habitat is managed in the North Cascades of Washington State.  In order to best inform wildlife management decisions, it is important to identify the most appropriate home range estimate for a given species and location. If home range size is over or under estimated, then habitat analysis and management will not be strategically focused.  A sample of elk GPS location points from the North Cascades are used to create home ranges with GIS tools using the Kernel density estimation (KDE) method.  KDE is a common technique for estimating an animal’s home range and is strongly influenced by the choice of smoothing method used in the calculation. KDE home range estimates produced using different smoothing methods are compared to landscape features (landcover, topography, human influence) to help determine which smoothing method is most applicable to defining the home range of North Cascades elk.  The home ranges are also compared to modeled elk habitat suitability coverage to demonstrate how home range estimates can be used to validate an elk habitat suitability model which is used to inform elk habitat management. The data produced using these GIS tools for elk home range analysis and habitat estimation is discussed within the context of elk behavior and management in the North Cascades eco-region.