Conditions for Collaboration

In January I moved to Northern California to work for the Sierra Institute for Community and Environment. Below I’ve included a snippet of a short piece I wrote for the Sierra Institute blog on March 2nd.

Before arriving in Taylorsville, I thought I knew what to expect. I had lived in a few small towns and traveled through many others. But in the northeastern Sierra, I found a character all its own. 

On chilly early morning walks, pouncing pumas are a primary concern. On twilight drives, it’s rare to see fewer than two dozen deer, a skunk, and a fox. (I consider myself lucky if this encounter is anytime except when they’re staring back at me through my headlights.) In valleys nestled in mountain arms of manzanita and pine—studded with snowy peaks—ouzels dip in rushing creeks and owls sit on wires, listening for mice. 

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5 Favorite Pacific Northwest Birds and How to Find Them

On a fine Tuesday morning in the Pacific Northwest, if you asked me what my favorite birds are I would say “the towhees I saw on the path to work.”

During the summer, it’s probably the shorebird I could find on the beach. But when I’m feeling restless for a fun-loving songbird, it’s that tiny always present kinglet.

towhee singing
Spotted Towhee

The point is—I don’t exactly have 5 rigidly defined favorite Pacific Northwest birds.

But with the variety of habitats in the northwest, it’s not a bad thing to have a favorite bird for every occasion.

Austin Schuver pacific northwest bird guide

Wi-Fi in Wild Spaces? No thank you.

Imagine camping in a national park. Do you picture sitting around a smoldering campfire enjoying gooey s’mores and planning tomorrow’s hike? Me too. But a team of Trump-appointed advisors wants to modernize that outdated scene.

Earlier this month, The Guardian reported that an advisory committee pitched a plan to “upgrade” national park campgrounds with Wi-Fi, food trucks, and even Amazon deliveries. America’s Best Idea is too old-fashioned, they argued. It must join the rest of us in the 21st century. Their new proposal begs the question: do the national parks need a technological revolution? 

Before diving into the downsides of the recommendations, I should acknowledge that the committee proposed some much-needed improvements: more campsites designed for extended families, improved partnership and planning with gateway communities, and better equipment rentals in the national parks. But the detractors in their proposal far outweigh its bright spots. 

Yosemite National Park Night Sky
The starry night sky from Yosemite National Park’s volunteer campground. The only light pollution here was from a campfire.
Continue reading “Wi-Fi in Wild Spaces? No thank you.”