The beautiful and powerful brown bears have arrived at Brooks
Falls in Katmai National Park and Preserve in Alaska, and everyone
in the world can enjoy the convenience of watching these giant
bears and other amazing wildlife live from the comfort and safety
of their home.
Lots of people have been going out to falls this year to watch
the bears from nearby viewing platforms, but I get the feeling that
far more people have been watching them from home via the
live webcams. I say that because of the number of
comments generated on the website. More than a few commenters
seem to know the area well and even call the bears by their
nicknames. (Park biologists use a numbering system, identifying
each bear by coat and claw colors, scars, body size and shape, ear
size and shape, sex, facial features and disposition.)
Brooks Falls is one of the first streams in the region where the
bears have easy access to bright salmon soon after they leave the
saltwater and before spawning. The falls provide a partial barrier
to their travels, making fishing easier for the bears. By sometime
in August, the fish runs will dwindle and the bears will be
Operators of the multiple live webcams do a good job of zooming
in when something interesting happens. Occasionally, so much is
going on that they don’t know what to show. Other times, we wait
and watch the beautiful scenery, which is especially dramatic at
sunrise and sunset.
When the bears are actively fishing for salmon, I find it hard
to break away and get back to daily life. One video trick I’ve
learned: If you don’t see anything interesting in the live view,
you can use your cursor to scan across the timeline to see what has
happened for the past few hours and watch that instead.
Park officials have identified the various fishing methods used
by the bears in an interesting
Q&A section on the national park’s website.
Birds and marine mammal cams
Besides watching bears, it’s a good time of year to watch other
wildlife as well via live webcam. Birds are typically active on
their nests, raising their young.
Chesapeake Conservancy is featuring the osprey couple,
Tom and Audrey, who perennially nest on Kent Island in
Maryland. Audrey has taken up with a new “Tom” this year and
produced three babies. They also received two foster chicks from
nearby Poplar Island, according to information on the website.
Another good osprey cam was installed this year in Belwood Lake
Conservation Area near the Great Lakes in Ontario, Canada. Three
eggs reportedly hatched, but I see only two chicks in the nest.
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife also has an osprey
cam that updates still photos every 12 seconds.
cam at Seal Island National Wildlife Refuge in Maine shows a
fuzzy chick tucked into a burrow where its mother comes and goes to
feed her baby. Other views shows puffins on a ledge where they
often hang out. Wildlife biologists are trying to establish a new
colony at this location after hunters wiped out the puffins in the
If you would like to see a colony
of walruses, (also in video player below) check out the live
camera installed on Round Island, Alaska. Sometimes only a few of
the large mammals can be seen. Other times, like this morning,
large numbers were pushing and shoving each other for space. The
comments are often entertaining.
Two members of the Washington’s congressional delegation — Reps.
Derek Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor, and Dave Reichert, R-Auburn — are
expressing confidence that the Land and Water Conservation Fund
will be reauthorized.
But with so many dollars on the line for conservation purposes,
many supporters are growing nervous about when it will happen and
what the final bill will look like. After all, what could possibly
go wrong in a Congress famous for getting nothing done, with less
than 100 days left to go before the law expires?
The Land and Water Conservation Fund is a major source of money
for recreation and habitat-protection projects across the country,
ranging from building local swimming pools to buying land for
national parks. Since 1965, more than 41,000 grants have provided a
total of about $4 billion, divided among every state and five U.S.
territories. For a list of completed projects in Washington state,
check out “50 Years of
Success” by the Washington Wildlife and Recreation
The current law places $900 million a year into the fund, but in
recent years only a fraction of that ever gets appropriated —
roughly between one-fourth and one-half. If not appropriated, the
money disappears into the general Treasury for other spending.
Revenues put into the fund come from royalties paid by energy
companies for drilling for oil on the outer continental shelf, so
no tax dollars are involved. As President Obama and others have
stated, the program allows money coming from the extraction of
natural resources to go into protecting natural resources.
In a conference call yesterday, Kilmer recounted how the fund
has helped bring businesses to Washington state, as employers look
for places with natural beauty and recreational opportunities. He
noted that in his previous life he worked for the Pierce County
Economic Development Board helping employers site their
“Just like in real estate, location matters,” Kilmer said.
“Access to natural beauty matters. Something our region has is a
natural environment that you won’t find anywhere else, and
innovators and employers are attracted to the Pacific
Kilmer said it is “hard to overstate the importance” of the Land
and Water Conservation Fund. He promised to work hard to have it
Reichert delivered a similar message, saying he helped gather
signatures in support from more than 200 representatives from both
“I want to reassure everyone… we are going to continue to fight
this fight back here,” he said. “We think it is absolutely critical
to invest in the LWCF … and support public land conservation
I did not get a clear picture of how the political battles are
shaping up, nor whether reauthorization is likely before the fund
expires at the end of September. But we can get some clues from
remarks by key leaders in the House and Senate, as well as
testimony in public hearings.
At one end of the spectrum, Washington’s Sen. Maria Cantwell has
proposed legislation, S. 890,
that would not only reauthorize the law but require permanent and
dedicated funding at the full amount of authorization. If Congress
fails to appropriate the funds, presumably the money would stay in
the fund unless redirected to another program.
Separate bills in the Senate and House (S.
338 and H.R.
1814) would not go as far. They would make the fund permanent
but would not change the appropriation process. A provision would
be added to the law to require that 1.5 percent of the
appropriation, up to $10 million, would be set aside for opening up
public access to recreation.
In the Senate, an amendment to the Keystone XL pipeline bill,
which would do what S. 338 proposes, nearly passed with 59 votes,
one vote shy of the required 60 votes to pass in today’s Senate.
That is seen as decent support in the Senate, but nobody is
predicting what will happen in the House.
Republicans, who are in control of the committees, could shape
any bills that they decide to bring to a vote and move to
Rep. Tom McClintock, a Republican from California, chairs the
Subcommittee on Federal Lands Oversight of the House Natural
“This 50-year old act expires in September, offering the 114th
Congress an opportunity to thoroughly examine its mission and
impacts and to make adjustments accordingly,” McClintock said in a
hearing in April on the Land and Water Conservation Fund.
McClintock raised objections about buying more federal land when
there is a serious backlog of maintenance projects needed to meet
standards for fire prevention, fire suppression, wildlife
management and facilities maintenance. Money that goes to states,
on the other hand, comes under greater accountability because of
the funding match provided at the local level, he said.
The funding is entirely discretionary, he noted, so it is
“incumbent upon Congress” to decide whether to support additional
funding for the purchase of federal lands.
Similar views were expressed by Alaskan Sen. Lisa Murkowski,
Republican chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural
“I fully support reauthorizing this act, this year, in a way
that reflects changing needs and evolving viewpoints about
conservation in the 21st century,” Murkowski said during a
hearing in April.
“As we look to reauthorize LWCF, I believe that it makes sense
to shift the federal focus away from land acquisition, particularly
in Western states, toward maintaining and enhancing the
accessibility and quality of the resources that we have,” she said.
“This is the best way to put our nation’s recreation system on the
path of long-term viability.”
She stressed her support for state programs and for increasing
public access to federal lands.
In that same hearing, Washington’s Sen. Maria Cantwell, the
Democrats’ ranking minority member on the committee, said it is not
necessary to choose between maintenance and purchase. Maintenance
is already authorized, she said, and Congress decides how much to
spend on maintenance.
“Nearly half of the National Park Service’s estimated backlog is
attributed to needed repairs for roads and highways within the
national parks,” she said. “The single biggest improvement we could
make in reducing the maintenance backlog would be to increase the
funding level in the transportation bill for park roads.”
The Land and Water Conservation Fund is flexible, she argued. It
provides money for states to buy and develop local recreation
projects and to protect habitat for endangered species.
The fund also provides money for the Forest Legacy Program to
purchase development rights from private timberland owners to keep
the property in a forest condition.
On that point, more than 2,100 acres of forestland adjacent to
both Green Mountain and Tahuya state forests in Kitsap and Mason
counties were protected from development in 2009 with a $3.3
million purchase of development rights from Pope Resources. See
Kitsap Sun, Aug. 12, 2009.
In the latest round of funding, an effort is moving forward to
protect 20,000 acres of forestland between Shelton and Allyn in
Mason County. The plan is to take up to 10 years to buy the
development rights from Green Diamond Resource Company, which will
continue to manage the land under a federally approved habitat
As for extra money for state projects, Cantwell pointed out that
a relatively new program, the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act,
provides a dedicated source of funding for state grants. Money from
drilling in the Gulf of Mexico places up to $125 million a year in
the Land and Water Conservation Fund.
In a column published by the
Kitsap Sun, Washington State Sen. Christine Rolfes,
D-Bainbridge Island, said the Land and Water Conservation Fund is
important for protecting public property in every corner of the
state, including a land purchase to improve degraded water quality
in Lake Quinault near the coast.
Rolfes said she worries that in this “highly charged political
climate,” opponents of public lands could block spending from the
fund by failing to authorize its renewal.
“If they succeed,” she said, “the loss won’t be abstract — it
will be real and immediate.”
The video below, produced by The Nature Conservancy, makes an
argument for continuing the purchase and protection of public
I was eager to find out if a 32-foot fiberglass replica of a
killer whale could scare off a huge number of sea lions crowded
together on the docks in Astoria, Ore.
I kept telling my wife Sue, “It’s not going to work” — and I had
not the slightest idea that the motorized orca might capsize during
its attempt to frighten the persistent sea lions.
About 1,000 people were on hand last night when a human operator
drove the orca toward the sea lions, according to Associated Press
reporter Terrence Petty. A passing cargo ship created a wake that
rushed toward the shore and capsized the fake killer whale. And
that was that for now. You can read the story in the
I understand that the fake killer whale might be deployed again
against the sea lions in August, when their numbers are expected to
be high again. I still doubt that it will work — unless the
operators can find a way to aggressively approach the sea lions and
stay with the effort for an extended time. It might help to play
recordings of transient killer whales — the kind that eat marine
mammals. But my understanding is that transients don’t make many
sounds when they are in their hunting mode.
I readily admit that I’m not a killer whale expert, but let me
tell you why I believe that any sort of limited effort with fake
orcas will fail. It’s not that sea lions don’t fear transients. In
fact, if sea lions can be convinced that they are being approached
by a real killer whale, their fear level could be quite high.
I’ve heard from homeowners who live on Hood Canal, Dyes Inlet
and other shorelines that when transient killer whales are around,
seals and sea lions head for shore, climb up on docks and even
attempt to board boats to get away from them.
So I don’t know if the fiberglass orca will fool the sea lions
in Astoria, but does anyone think that these marine mammals are
crazy enough to jump into the water if they believe a killer is
there waiting for them?
It’s been nearly a year since the opening of Verruckt, the
tallest water slide, located at Schlitterbahn Waterpark in
Kansas City, Kansas.
Numerous videos reveal a thrilling ride, as three people are
strapped into a raft and fly down a 60-degree incline from 168 feet
up — higher than Niagara Falls — reaching speeds up to 65 miles per
hour. The German word “verruckt,” which means crazy or insane,
seems to fit, but I’d love to hear from anyone who has gone down
A year ago, just prior to opening, more than a few people were
alarmed by the continuing delays, caused in part by safety
concerns. During practice runs, before any person went down the
slide, rafts loaded with sandbags kept flying off the slide in
A little less water on the slide slowed the speed and kept the
rafts more stable. Still, to this day, riders report that they can
feel the raft rising off the slide and going into free fall. The
first video shows the initial trip taken by any human. On board
were park designer Jeff Henry and ride engineer John Schooley.
Schooley admitted to Astead Herndon, reporting for CNN
News, that the ride was more than a little nerve-racking.
“It was terrifying,” Schooley said. “It was great fun, but it
was actually terrifying.”
Before the ride was finally opened to the public, most of the
slide was enclosed with netting as an added precaution. Read
“LiveScience” to see how they can make adjustments to the speed
The feeling of height and speed is shown well in a promotional
video for Garmin action cameras (shown in the second video player
on this page),
Another good depiction of the wild ride was shown by reporter
Matt Gutman of
ABC News. He was one of the first regular folks to go down the
Verruckt is listed by Geobeats in the 10th position among the
“World’s 10 Most Amazing Water Slides,” shown in the last video on
this page. They all look more than a little crazy.
Bill Dance, who learned how to fish from his grandfather on
Mulberry Creek near Lynchburg, Tenn., is one of the most recognized
sport fishermen in the country.
With 23 national bass titles to his name, Bill Dance retired
from competitive fishing in 1980 at the age of 39. His television
show “Bill Dance
Outdoors” has been on the air since 1968, with more than 2000
programs to date. It’s an amazing career, and it appears this man
is still out on the water with his fishing pole.
With all the fishing Bill has done through the years, it is
inevitable that he has had a few misshaps along the way. Six years
ago in this blog, I rounded up some of the amusing moments this
fisherman has lived through. Since then, Bill has enhanced his
YouTube channel and compiled five “blooper videos” that show the
variety of ways that Bill, his friends and his camera operators
have managed to get wet.
I’ve posted my favorite compilation video from the Bill Dance
collection on this page. Four other humorous videos can be found
under “Bloopers, Goof Ups & Funny Moments” on the “Bill
Dance Fishing” channel on YouTube.
Cameron Teller of Seattle, a former Kitsap County resident, is
the Grand Prize winner in the
“Share the Experience” photo contest — which means his touching
photo of a polar bear and her cub will receive prominent display on
next year’s annual pass for entrance into national parks and other
Cameron’s photo was among 22,000 images submitted last year in
the annual contest, which provides a $10,000 prize to the
Cameron snapped the shot from a boat a good distance away, just
as the cub reached its mother. The amateur photographer had gone
out on the boat as part of a six-person tour to Alaska’s remote
Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, where the group was focused on
seeing polar bears and Northern Lights.
“I love going on trips to faraway places and taking
photographs,” Cameron told me.
The group had flown from Fairbanks to Deadhorse, Alaska, then
onto Kaktovik, the only village inside the wildlife refuge. A guide
took them out on a fishing boat, where they spent the day
photographing wildlife and scenery.
“The captain was a local resident,” Cameron said. “We went out
early in the morning. It was awfully foggy that morning, then it
started clearing up. The sun came out and it was a great day for
The trip occurred at the beginning of winter last year, just as
the sea ice was freezing up. In fact, he said, the ice had grown so
thick around the dock where the group departed that the captain had
to choose a different landing site to get the group back to
Cameron said there is nothing like seeing mothers and their
babies, and it was a special moment when the polar bear cub walked
over and reached up to its mother.
“I still can’t quite believe I won,” Cameron told me. “There
were some amazing photos that were entered. I think one of the
reasons this appealed to the judges is the whole topic of global
warming and protection of the National Arctic Wildlife Refuge.”
Of course, polar bears have become a symbol of the melting ice
caps in the polar regions, where the bears are threatened with
extinction because of declining habitat.
Cameron moved to Bremerton from Kansas City about 13 years ago
to work for Parametrix, an engineering firm with an office on
Kitsap Way. He lived in Manette a short time before moving to
Bainbridge Island, where he resided for 11 years. For the past two
years, he has lived in Seattle’s Queen Anne neighborhood.
Cameron said the $10,000 prize will help fund his ongoing
adventures. He visited Kenya about two years ago and plans to
travel to Japan’s northernmost island of Hokkaido next January.
It has been a good year for Cameron, who also won “Outdoor
“American Landscape Contest” with a photo of El Capitan, a
vertical rock formation in Yosemite National Park.
The polar bear photo will be featured on next year’s America the
Beautiful pass, an annual pass that gets visitors into more than
2,000 public recreation sites on federal land. About 300,000 people
purchase the pass each year.
The annual “Share
the Experience” contest is sponsored by the National Park
Foundation, Active Network, and Celestron in partnership with the
National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the Bureau of
Reclamation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the U.S.
Photographs are now being accepted for next year’s contest,
which requires pictures to be taken during 2015 and submitted by
the end of the year. Winners will be announced by May 1, 2016.
Weekly winners are recognized.
Other winners announced last week in the “Share the Experience”
contest include Eric DaBreo of Chico, Calif., second place for his
photo of the Golden Gate Bridge taken at sunset from Marshall
Beach, and Jordan Moore of San Marcos, Texas, for his photo of a
bison at the edge of Yellowstone Lake.
Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell said she hopes the
contest helps inspire people to enjoy the country’s “unrivaled
public lands and waters” and share the feeling with others.
“Taking pictures is one of the many ways to enjoy the splendor
of our nation’s stunning landscapes and share those treasured
moments with friends and family, as well as inspire others who may
have never visited to get out and explore their public lands,” she
said in a
I recently discovered a series of 58 fascinating videos that
capture the highlights of the diverse national parks in the United
The five-minute videos, by photographer Dennis Burkhardt
of Oregon, take us on trips into some of the most amazing
wilderness areas in the world. The scenic photography and
accompanying narration make me yearn to visit every park to see
them for myself.
I’ve posted on this page three of the videos, including the one
that describes our familiar Olympic National Park. The complete set
of can be viewed on the YouTube channel
“America’s 58 National Parks.” Be sure to go full-screen.
I’m sure every park has a story to tell, and these videos
briefly tantalize us with the possibilities of exploration. I
recall stumbling upon a rich history and some amazing tales while
researching a Kitsap Sun story for the 75th anniversary of Olympic
National Park. It is called
“At 75, Olympic National Park has grown amid push-pull of
In 1872, our first national park was born when President Ulysses
S. Grant signed a law creating Yellowstone National Park.
Yellowstone was followed by Mackinac in 1875, then Sequoia and
Yosemite in 1890. Mackinac was converted to a state park in 1895 —
seven national parks to go out of existence in the national
National parks are selected for their natural beauty, unique
geological formations, rare ecosystems and recreational
opportunities. In contrast, national monuments, also administered
by the National Park Service, are selected mainly for their
California has nine parks, the most of any state, followed by
Alaska with eight, Utah with five and Colorado with four.
Washington has three — with
North Cascades National Park created in 1968.
New parks are still being created, with Pinnacles National
Monument in Central California becoming a national park in 2013.
(Pinnacles is the 59th national park and is not included in the
list of videos.) The largest national park,
Wrangell-St. Elias in Alaska, is larger then nine entire
states. The smallest is
Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas.
A handy list of all the parks with links to more information can
be found on
For the past few years, I’ve been hearing that Washington’s
water-quality standards are grossly out of date, especially when it
comes to assumptions about how much fish people eat. Water-quality
standards are a set of criteria used to determine when a body of
water is “impaired” and to establish limits for discharges from
industrial facilities and sewage-treatment plants.
It was hard to understand how the Department of Ecology could
assume that an average person was eating just 6.5 grams of fish a
day. That’s less than a quarter-ounce. A typical meal of fish is
commonly considered to be eight ounces (226.8 grams). So the
assumption was that people were eating one meal of fish every 35
The water quality standards come from an equation established to
ensure that if you consumed a certain amount of fish, then your
health would be protected. So it would seem logical that if you ate
more than that amount, your health might be at risk.
That’s what got me started looking into the nuances of this
discussion about water-quality standards and eating fish,
especially fish from Puget Sound. The result was a two-part series
published Sunday and Monday in the Kitsap Sun (subscription) —
Part 1 and
Part 2 — and reprinted with permission on the website of
Investigate West — Part
1 and Part
I’ll talk about my new relationship with InvestigateWest at the
bottom of this page, where I’ll also report on a new study about
the protective effects of eating fish even when mercury levels are
The first thing to understand about water-quality standards is
that the state has been relying on an equation created by the
Environmental Protection Agency. That equation resulted in water
quality standards used since 1992 across the nation and still in
some states (PDF 429 kb). The problem was that the EPA has not
updated the nationwide standards, known as the National Toxics
Rule, even while the federal agency has been pushing for states to
come up with their own standards.
Obviously, the fish consumption rate was no longer valid, if it
ever was. State and federal guidelines call for people to eat at
least two or three meals of fish each week for health reasons. It
is not uncommon for Native Americans to eat a meal of fish or more
each day. Protecting the treaty rights of tribal members, which
includes safely eating fish from their “usual and accustomed
areas,” is a responsibility of the state and federal governments,
Fish consumption is not the only issue, however. Other factors
in the equation are also out of date. The EPA has updated estimates
of toxicity for many of the 100 or so chemicals for which
water-quality standards are listed. The weight of a person’s body
in the equation also was changed.
Perhaps the most controversial change in the formula, as
proposed by Gov. Jay Inslee, is to increase the cancer risk rate
for human health from 1 in a million to 1 in 100,000.
I won’t go deeper into the calculation here, since you can read
my story for more details, or look into the state’s
“Overview of key decisions in rule amendment” (PDF 6.4 mb). But
understand that all the assumptions taken together changed the
final number for each of the 96 chemicals under review for
Washington state. Also note that the vast majority of these
chemicals are not even detectible in fish down to parts per
Under Inslee’s proposal, the final number generated by the
equation would be the new water-quality standard for a chemical if
the number were lower (more protective) than the existing standard.
For chemicals in which the number was higher (less protective), the
old standard would remain.
The result was that 70 percent of the standards would become
more stringent under Inslee’s proposal and 30 percent would stay
the same, according to Ecology officials. To see the proposed
changes between the old and new standards and whether the change in
cancer risk would make a significant difference, check out “Human
Health Criteria Review Documents” (PDF 2.9 mb).
Out of the 96 chemicals on the list, two create the greatest
concerns for human health in Puget Sound waters. They are
polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and mercury. For these chemicals,
Inslee’s proposal would keep the water-quality standards the same.
This is controversial, but his thinking is that these chemicals are
widespread in the environment, and reducing their concentrations in
effluent would have little effect on improving the safety of
The governor has proposed a separate planning process with
funding from the Legislature to track down and reduce the sources
of pollution that cause the greatest health concerns — including
some chemicals not on the EPA’s list.
Eating fish is especially important for pregnant mothers and
young children, as I described in the first part of the series.
Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish tissue are considered essential
for the proper development of the brain and neurological system,
including memory and performance, as well as other health
Health advisories tend to balance the beneficial effects of
eating fish with the risks of getting too much PCBs, mercury and
other harmful chemicals. The goal is to choose fish that are
relatively low in toxic chemicals, knowing that practically all
fish, meats and dairy products contain some contaminants.
New study on protective effects of fish
A new study in the Seychelles, an island country where people eat a
lot of fish, suggests that polyunsaturated fatty acids in fish may
provide some protection against the health risks of mercury,
including neurological problems.
The study was published in the “American Journal of Clinical
Nutrition.” The report’s co-author, Edwin van Wijngaarden,
associate professor at the University of Rochester’s Department of
Public Health Sciences, had this to say in a news
“These findings show no overall association between prenatal
exposure to mercury through fish consumption and neurodevelopmental
outcomes. It is also becoming increasingly clear that the benefits
of fish consumption may outweigh, or even mask, any potentially
adverse effects of mercury.”
Because the findings are so new, I chose to stick to the
standard health advisories in my Sunday story.
Laura Riley, medical director of labor and delivery at
Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, said the advice to limit
fish intake may not be warranted after all. But she is not ready to
drop the cautionary approach, according to a story by Dennis
“More study needs to be done before you can convince me that the
fish is actually protective,” she said. “I want to see the
As most of you know, I have retired from the staff of the Kitsap
Sun, but I’m still writing this blog and occasional stories for the
newspaper, including the two-part series this week.
I was recently asked by InvestigateWest, a nonprofit
journalism group, to cover some environmental issues being debated
in the Washington Legislature. I started this new assignment this
week and expect to continue coverage to the end of the legislative
session. My work is being funded through a crowd-sourcing
website called Beacon. All contributions are appreciated.
American Rivers, an environmental group, has released an
inspiring new short film that captures the sense of wonder and
adventure people can experience in the wild outdoors.
The video features one little boy named Parker who exudes
enthusiasm as he runs, jumps and explores the rivers of the Olympic
Peninsula. We listen to fast-paced music as the scenes change
quickly, jumping from one place to the next, while Parker
demonstrates his “top 50 favorite things about Northwest Rivers.”
(Be sure to watch in full-screen.)
“We wanted a video that would connect with people on a fun,
personal level, reminding all of us why healthy rivers matter and
why rivers make the Northwest such a special place to live,” Amy
Kober of American Rivers told me in an email. “Wild rivers are
amazing places for kids and adults; they can make us all feel like
Amy said she chose filmmaker Skip Armstrong of Wazee Motion
Pictures “because of his talent, unique style, and creativity — and
his own love of rivers.”
Skip says he got the idea for a simple film about unbridled
enthusiasm and curiosity while watching his fiancee’s nephew
playing on the beach. When it came time to shoot the American
Rivers video, that particular boy was not available. Skip looked
around his hometown of Hood River, Ore., and found an equally
energetic and curious youngster named Parker Arneson, son of Emmie
Purcell and Shane Arneson. This high-powered 8-year-old is an avid
snowboarder and skateboarder.
Skip spent three days last summer scouting out locations on the
Olympic Peninsula, then came back in the fall with Parker for an
eight-day shoot, traveling the Highway 101 loop around the Olympic
Peninsula in a counter-clockwise direction. Being a home-schooled
student, Parker did not miss any school.
“We just followed Parker around when we got to locations,” Skip
said. “He literally did everything else. He’s an amazing person.
What struck all of us on the shoot was his ability to engage us and
the camera and to come up with ideas. He’s a ton of fun to be
“We only had one comical setback,” he said. “Hayden Peters and I
set off to scout a location and got a bit lost on the way back to
the van. It was pouring rain. We finally got to a hillside that
looked like the road was above it, so we set off to climb the hill.
Only problem was a benign-looking puddle that I stepped in with
great confidence, only to sink immediately to my armpits.
“Shortly thereafter, we arrived back at the car, me smelling
like a swamp and totally soaked. Parker thought it was pretty
Parker took some pretty good falls while running around, but he
always bounced back and was ready to go again, Skip said.
Parker even got a speeding ticket from an Olympic National Park
ranger for running too fast in the Staircase area near the North
Fork of the Skokomish River. It was a joke, of course. The ranger
was one who accompanied the film crew as part of the permit
requirements for shooting video in a wilderness area.
Emmie, Parker’s mom, said he had a great time shooting the
Skip has produced numerous films with a water theme. Check out
“featured work” on his website, WazeeMotionPictures.com. He
says it is important to remember the joy we feel in wild
“To me, there is no faster access to unbridled joy than through
the eyes of a young person or child,” he wrote me in an email. “It
was refreshing for our team to spend so much time with Parker, and
it’s cool to see audiences connect with his enthusiasm, too.
“American Rivers works so hard to protect our precious
resources, and I love that Parker shows us why this is important.
When we were shooting, we met so many wonderful people of all ages
enjoying the rivers and sights of the Northwest.”
Skip’s film reminds us that some of our best times can be had
outdoors. As the weather improves, I’m inspired and eager to get
back to some wild places with my own kids and grandkids.
I also want to thank Skip for sending along the still photos
that show Parker and the film crew out and about on the Olympic
BirdNote originated in 2005 at a single station — KPLU in Tacoma
— and expanded to 50 participating stations by 2010 with about 200
stations today, according to a
list of facts put together for the anniversary. Birdnote began
as a once-a-week segment before expanding to daily segments in
The searchable archive
covers more than 1,200 shows, featuring more than 650 species of
birds. Besides the daily audio clips, each webpage links to related
sources — including photos or videos; a little history or
biography; scientific explanations; occasional notes or blogs; and
often more information about the featured birds.
In honor of the 10th anniversary of BirdNote, and since this is
a blog about water issues, I’ve picked out 20 clips from the past
two years or so that I think you will enjoy: