A state wildlife official holds two 10-month-old western pond turtles at Woodland Park Zoo just before their return to their original habitat near Lakewood. Lisa Allen/Staff photo
SEATTLE–About 20 western pond turtles were weighed, sized and marked at Woodland Park Zoo recently just before they were returned to their original habitat near Lakewood.
The endangered western pond turtle population, once down to 150 remaining in the wild, has been restored to about 1,500 thanks to the zoo’s "Western Pond Turtle Recovery Project."
Western pond turtles were once common from Baja California to Puget Sound, including the Columbia River Gorge. The turtles have faced habitat loss and predation from non-native species such as the bullfrog.
The Western Pond Turtle Recovery Project was established in 1991 to help bring the species back from the brink of extintion. The turtles are collected from the wild as eggs, hatched and "head started" at the zoo to improve their chances of survival.
The largest of the turtles are equipped with tiny radio transmitters so biologists can monitor their behavior.
Scientists tracking the released turtles estimate that 95 percent of the turtles released back into the Columbia River Gorge have survived, and nearly all of the turtles released back in Pierce, Mason, Skamania and Klickitat counties have survived.
Visit www.zoo.org for more wildlife and habitat conservation information.
But don’t forget your life jacket – police will be watching
DUVALL–The Snoqualmie River is still running pretty high, fast and cold.
But that didn’t keep locals from heading to the river beach last week to enjoy the beginning of real summer weather. Most stayed on the warm sand though, rather than in the water, probably due to the chill factor.
Other than that, the scene appeared pretty much as it always has for early July (no life jackets in sight except for one on a child), making one wonder if long-engrained behavior can be changed as easily as passing a law, such as the ordinance just recently passed by the King County Council requiring all swimmers, boaters and floaters on the county’s major rivers to wear "personal flotation devices."
And it remains to be seen whether all those active young people will be willing to give up the pleasures of frolicking and swimming in the rivers without the constraints of a life jacket.
It’s all about safety, said King County Council members who were concerned about the dangers resulting from the extra-high water this year due to heavy snow melt.
According to the King County Executive’s Office, the measure, which took effect July 1st, also calls for a public education campaign to let people know of the new requirement by posting signs at access points to major rivers (such as the Duvall beach but as of last week there still were no signs), and to promote life vest use in partnership with regional organizations focused on drowning prevention, such as Seattle Children’s Hospital and the Statewide Drowning Prevention Network.
Health and safety officials will evaluate the program as the summer progresses.
The new law covers only major King County rivers and, although there was no officer on the Duvall beach on that hot day last week, local police are saying the area will be patrolled and violaters warned or ticketed.
The King County Sheriff will enforce the wearing of a U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal floatation device, or PFD, in the unincorporated portions of the Snoqualmie, Tolt, Cedar, Green, White, Raging and Skykomish Rivers that run outside of cities.
Duvall police Commander Carey Hert said last week if officers see a violation they will first issue a warning. A second offense can result in a ticket which can cost up to $86.
"No one has been ticketed yet," he said.
Hert said the department published the information about the new law in the Duvall News which goes out monthly in the city’s utility bills.
The article explained that the life jacket requirement applies to anyone using a buoyant device, including an air mattress or inner tube, and to anyone swimming or wading more than five feet from shore or in water more than four feet deep.
The article also notes that even strong swimmers can find themselves in a life-threatening situation in seconds and warns that rivers often have debris clogs (that can catch an unwary swimmer).
The regulation is in effect through October 31, 2011.
But not all beach-goers are aware of the new ordinance.
Duvall resident Andrea Nelson wasn’t. She was enjoying the beach that day with her five kids, ages 4 to 16, most just playing in the sand or sun bathing.
"I didn’t know about the law," she said. "There should be signs. If they (police) get serious (about passing out tickets) we will probably find another beach or go to a pool."
Yes, it’s usually the same weekend as the pancake breakfast but this year, it’s not.
The decision to move the date was made for several reasons, none of which really matter. The only thing that matters is… Duvall still gets to celebrate Duvall Days and…for two days this year.
• The name for one – Duvall Days will now be known as the Country Living Festival. This celebration carries on the same long-standing traditions while it honors the future of our community.
• A pie eating contest in front of Tressa’s bakery.
• The TEEN Zone which includes more activities for teens…volleyball, mechanic creeper races and hay bale tossing.
• Running of the Balls! This is a new fundraiser. The balls can be purchased for $5 each. They are available for pre-sale at various locations in town and can also be purchased on the day of the event. The balls will be rolled downhill on 1st Street from Stella. Top prize is $1,000!
• Tie Dye project in the park.
• First annual Country Classic Bike Ride on Sunday to benefit the Alzheimer’s Association.
• Social Media Campaign. Twitter will be used to promote times of events and special discounts at various vendors throughout the weekend. To participate, follow us at twitter/DuvallDivas.com.
What’s back by popular demand?
• The closing of Main Street from 8 a.m. – 6 p.m.
• Duvall Days parade
• Pony rides and the animal petting zoo, located on Valley Street behind Community Business Services.
• Yummy food from our local restaurants and assorted street vendors.
• Bouncy houses donated by Thrive Fitness!
• Chalk Art Exhibit at the north end of town featuring Dan Cautrell.
• Saturday night fireworks!
• Live music in the park from 12:30 – 10:00, including a performance from the Cascade Community Theatre.
• Volunteers to help manage the Teen Zone. Tie dye artists to help manage a tie dye project in the park.
• Artists for the chalk art on Main Street, with and without experience!
• YOU! Please attend and show your support for Duvall!
To volunteer, call Kris at (206) 550-5176 or sign up at duvalldays.org.
If you volunteer, you will be rewarded with lunch and a Du-Volunteer t-shirt!
I have driven by the Oxbow Farm sign on Highway 203 hundreds of times.
I have also heard Oxbow mentioned dozens of times. However, until a recent field trip, I had no idea what it was. But I had the pleasure of visiting Oxbow with a group of students from Eagle Rock Multi Age.
Farmer Sarah, one of the owners, was our tour guide along with farmer Andrew and farmer Melissa. Sarah’s enthusiasm for farming quickly spread to the students and the parents who were chaperoning. She never stopped smiling through the entire tour.
When we were all exhausted at the end of our tour, she was still smiling and full of energy. She even did a couple of handstands. She must get her energy from all of the wonderful organic produce at Oxbow.
From the moment our tour started, we were impressed by all that Oxbow had to offer. We planted beans, learned about worms and composting, picked rhubarb and wore giant leaves on our heads.
The kids loved exploring the living playground which included a 17-foot tepee.
We sang songs, toured greenhouses, planted sunflowers, had a picnic lunch and chased frogs. And, at the very end of our tour, the kids played farmers freeze tag in a huge, grassy field.
What a day! I now know that Oxbow Farm is truly a local treasure!
During our tour, I learned that Oxbow is a 25-acre organic farm that sells at farmers markets, offers a CSA (community supported agriculture) and provides fresh organic produce to area chefs.
In 2010, they established their non-profit in order to expand their educational programs.
I wanted to learn more about Oxbow so I visited their website at www.oxbow.org. I was very impressed with their mission statement which is:
"Our mission is to EDUCATE people on the importance of environmental stewardship and healthy food, to RECONNECT us to the land and our local sustainable food supply and to INSPIRE us to take action in our daily lives and our communities."
That is quite a mission statement!
If you would like to check out this local treasure, you can visit Oxbow on Saturdays and Sundays July 16th thru October, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
DUVALL – The annual Sandblast Festival held at McCormick Park on the shore of the historic and beautiful Snoqualmie River suggests that you "Get Your Funk On!" this year.
The main goal of the festival is to celebrate the arts and introduce and promote local and regional artists and art organizations.
The dates for this year’s festival are Saturday and Sunday, July 23rd and 24th. The festival features a professional and community sand sculpture event and includes live music, dance and performance, story telling and a fine art and craft fair.
Duvall has always been a "funky" town, loving its summer events, and this year is no different. The festival is an opportunity to get to know your neighbors’ hidden talents, and the "not so hidden talents."
Sandblast Festival hours are Saturday and Sunday, 12 noon – 6 p.m. Plus, on Saturday, there will be a special evening performance from Cascade Community Theatre.
Family fun! Entry is free of charge. Come on down to Sandblast and help us "Funk it Up!"
(times and bands subject to change)
Saturday, July 23rd
12:00 Noon – 12:45 p.m. Money Creek Mining Company