Week Four. Halfway through this summer in Seattle and I've learned that not all salt water is created equal. It's funny seeing my friends for more northern latitudes loving the water but those closer to the equator shivering in their shorts.  Here's something else to add to my list of when not to write a blog post: When you're hungry. But on to what the post is about. The theme for this week was Rivers of Life. Our base was the Olympic Peninsula. We spent a few days in the Quinault Indian Nation and then moved to the Olympic Natural Resources Center in Forks. [Insert joke about vampires/werewolves here.] Two of the major goals were to see how the Quinault people's resources are managed and to look at a river restoration project after the removal of two dams.

I shared this story with the cohort but I'll write it here because it was one of the most impactful moments of my week. Near the end of our time at the Quinault Nation, one of our guides took us into a forest. Outsiders weren't allowed unless they were with a member of the tribe. He talked about the importance of some of the trees - especially the cedar tree. Then he held up three or four eagle feathers and passed them around. We all had to say how we felt when it was our turn to hold the feathers. I heard my friends say they felt "safe" or "peaceful" or "connected to Earth". I wanted to feel those things but I didn't want to lie while holding the feathers. How I really felt was uncomfortable. There were mosquitos flying by my left ear and I was kinda freaked out by a tiny lizard-looking thing that I saw near my feet earlier. I said that I felt "cared for but homesick" because home is where I feel most comfortable.

Some of our presenters this week really stood out. I think it was mostly because they were passionate about what they were doing and it came out when they talked with us. One of them made me think about doing work with large predators. I've never thought about top predators before but he made it seem so interesting and engaging. Someone asked him how he manages to get people to care about big and animals like wolves or bear that they usually find intimidating. He said that he tries to make them see an economic benefit but that a key factor was how he communicates it to them. He makes sure that his interest and passion for predators is clear when he interacts with people.

The Elwha River was the restoration project we looked at. There used to be two dams on the river but last year the removal projects were complete. I enjoyed the botanist's presentation about how they're revegetating the area. It's crazy because they have to work from scratch. It was also cool to see how much they have to learn from the landscape itself. They can't replant based on what was there twenty years ago; they have to replant based on the current climate or soil or animals. It also got me thinking about the cost and benefits of dams. On one hand, they provide energy but whether or not that energy is truly renewable - especially when you consider the habitat damage both near the site of the dam and all the way to where the river meets the ocean - is another question. (That was a long sentence. My apologies to anyone reading this out loud.)

Week Four Summary

Location Olympic Peninsula

Quinault Indian Nation
Olympic National Resource Center
Elwha River
Two beaches

This is a short post, I know. I hope the pictures make up for some of it. I think it's better for me to keep it short than to ramble. Plus, I'm going to write the next Sunday Currently later on. The song is "Is This Love" by Bob Marley and the Wailers. One of my friends played it in in the car after we shared with the eagle feathers and I actually cried. But  I'm glad she played it because it felt good to cry.

Thanks for reading,

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