Citizen science in the Gorge

Last week, local and regional high school students tested water quality, examined stream morphology and tracked endangered carnivores on a weeklong backpacking, biking and kayaking adventure through the Hood River watershed.

Hailing from Hood River, Camas, Portland and Seattle, 10 high school students explored the Hood River watershed from its headwaters on the Eliot Glacier to its confluence with the Columbia. Oregon Episcopal School in Portland hosted the trip in collaboration with Cascade Mountain Semester (White Salmon).

The purpose of the trip was to “make science come alive,” said Emily Goodwin, founder and director of Cascade Mountain Semester, and “to offer science research and biology credit to students interested in applied environmental science.”

Throughout the trip students recorded their findings on water quality, plant community ecology and carnivore biology to assist local and regional monitoring efforts.

Highlights of the trip included seeing a sockeye salmon build its redd on the East Fork of the Hood River, working with a Portland State University glaciologist to discover how glaciers move, tracking the Cascade red fox with Cascadia Wild, kayaking with Wet Planet, biking in the upper valley with Mountain View Cycles and investigating water quality with Columbia Riverkeeper.

José, a Hood River Valley High School student, said, “I stepped into a whole other world in the woods … it just felt good. It was a great experience.”

Another student said, “It’s everything I’d ever want to do outside in one week!”

Trip participants will continue to investigate their hypotheses and interpret the information they collected throughout the school year.

Scholarships for trip participants were provided by the Orange County Community Foundation.

For more information about Cascade Mountain Semester visit http://cascademountainsemester.word-press.com.

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