Changing Planet

Top 10 Photos from an Expedition to Olympic National Forest

The snow line begins to creep down to the lower elevations on the Olympic Peninsula.

National Geographic Emerging Explorer Gregg Treinish founded Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation, a nonprofit organization connecting outdoor adventurers with scientists in need of data from the field. He also organizes his own expeditions, contributing to research on wildlife-human interaction, fragmented habitats, and threatened species.

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Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation (ASC) is hard at work looking for signs of the Pacific coastal marten (Martes caurina) in the Olympic National Forest (ONF) this winter. For years USFS researchers led by Betsy Howell have been searching for signs of marten and, though ONF is prime marten habitat, there is concern that the species has extirpated from the region. Last year ASC joined the effort and organized the first ASC-ONF marten survey project where 12 camera trap stations were established in 6 different drainages deep in the ONF. This project yielded thousands of photos of dozens of different species, but notably lacking was any sign of a marten. Last year’s efforts led to the coastal Pacific Marten being listed as “critically imperiled” by NatureServe, but Betsy says:

“If martens still exist in greater numbers on the Olympic Peninsula, then they may be doing so in higher, isolated pockets of habitat. Getting to these areas can be challenging, particularly during the winter months, which are the most ideal for carnivore surveys. Having volunteers vetted through ASC who are extremely fit and extremely motivated would greatly add to the likelihood of success for such an effort.”

This year we are back in the ONF with a larger team, more cameras, and more funding thanks to a generous grant from the National Forest Foundation. Beginning in January, fifteen hardy adventure scientists have dedicated their weekends to trekking deep into the backcountry of the ONF. Here are a few of the highlights from 2014:

This bobcat refuses to leave empty handed.
This bobcat refuses to leave empty handed.
An adventurous robber jay on top of Mt. Rose in the Olympic National Forest. Photo by Jordan Holsinger
An adventurous robber jay on top of Mt. Rose in the Olympic National Forest. Photo by Jordan Holsinger
Volunteer Angela Bohlke reviews the settings on her team's camera. Photo by Erin Johnson.
Volunteer Angela Bohlke reviews the settings on her team’s camera. Photo by Erin Johnson.
Finding the perfect camera location in prime marten habitat. Photo by Julia Johannesen.
Finding the perfect camera location in prime marten habitat. Photo by Julia Johannesen.
The view from the Mt. Rose summit. Photo by Jordan Holsinger.
The view from the Mt. Rose summit. Photo by Jordan Holsinger.
A fisher - close relative of the marten and itself reintroduced to the peninsula - visits a camera site. Photo by ASC.
A fisher – close relative of the marten and itself reintroduced to the peninsula – visits a camera site. Photo by ASC.
Close examination of animal signs along the trail. Photo by Bill Agnew.
Close examination of animal signs along the trail. Photo by Bill Agnew.
Trekking in the old growth to access the camera location deep in the ONF. Photo by Mike Quist Kautz.
Trekking in the old growth to access the camera location deep in the ONF. Photo by Mike Quist Kautz.
An eagle skims the Hama Hama river just outside the ONF. Photo by Jordan Holsinger
An eagle skims the Hama Hama river just outside the ONF. Photo by Jordan Holsinger

You can keep up with ASC by subscribing to ASC’s blog, liking us on Facebook and following us on Twitter (@AdventurScience)Instagram (@AdventureScience) and Google+.

NEXTOn the Trail of the Elusive Pacific Marten

Gregg Treinish founded Adventure Scientists in 2011 with a strong passion for both scientific discovery and exploration. National Geographic named Gregg Adventurer of the Year in 2008 when he and a friend completed a 7,800-mile trek along the spine of the Andes Mountain Range. He was included on the Christian Science Monitor's 30 under 30 list in 2012, and the following year became a National Geographic Emerging Explorer for his work with Adventure Scientists. In 2013, he was named a Backpacker Magazine "hero", in 2015, a Draper Richards Kaplan Entrepreneur and one of Men's Journal's "50 Most Adventurous Men." In 2017, he was named an Ashoka Fellow. Gregg holds a biology degree from Montana State University and a sociology degree from CU-Boulder. He thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail in 2004. Read more updates from Gregg and others on the Adventure Scientists team at adventurescientists.org/field-notes. Follow Adventure Scientists on Instagram @adventurescientists, on Facebook @adventurescientists, and on Twitter @AdvScientists.
  • James Arjuna

    It is a shame that modern people believing they are protecting life with windmills for electricity (which by the way, are the most expensive and least productive way to make electricity without coal), are killing off the very species they want to preserve. Talk about ignorance. There have been over 100 bald eagles killed so far and they keep slaughtering them along with many other birds. Also those solar towers kill bird in a few seconds by burning them to death. If you love nature get rid of this insanity.

  • Joel Starr

    Olympics are GREAT. Lived in Port Angeles in 1950
    and was on Port Angeles YMCA staff, including its
    camp in southern Clallam county.
    Describe the hot sorings near Port Angeles.

  • Joel Starr

    Sorry, that is springs, not sorings!!

  • CAROLINE DAVIDSON

    Hi James. I have often wondered whether windfarms (I think this will be the same as your US windmills) posed a risk to birds, but until you said this I have never seen anything at all about it. I thought people like the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds in the UK, etc. would have been campaigning against them. Alex Salmond, who leads the Scottisn National Party, wants a load more in Scotland if it goes independent. – damaging wildlife and beautiful scenery in a country that has tourism as one of its main selling points.

  • Bernard Hughes

    A 90 year old man in Superior, Wis. enjoyed the pictures a good bit!!

  • Leona

    Make sure you have all the facts regarding alternative energies. I have slept under a windmill at a wind farm, and undertaken bird surveys around them. No evidence suggests that they are a problem, as yet, to birds. Further research is required. You have to get out in the field and explore these issues yourself.

  • Tresise

    I little research across the web show the number of birds killed by wind-farms are a fraction of those killed by flying into building and caught by cats. The payback on energy used to build a wind farm and return on investment many times better than other means. Info at www cse org uk covers it all.

  • James Arjuna

    Humans are in capable of thinking beyond some emotionalism driven ideologies. Everywhere I go and have gone I see these damned ugly windmills (wind electric generators) and they are destroying the beauty of the country. You can put solar panels on your home, get off the grid and be free of all this.

  • noel van eede

    wind farms a blot on beautiful landscapes.

  • akkas

    very good photo is…….

    1/. An eagle skims the Hama Hama river just outside the ONF. Photo by Jordan Holsinger

    2/. A fisher – close relative of the marten and itself reintroduced to the peninsula – visits a camera site. Photo by ASC.

  • Grace

    Thankyou for the beautiful pics . I truly enjoy them.

  • Bill Harrison

    Having lived on islands, mountains, in forests, the plains and deserts you name it, they are all fantastic, they are all exceptional to those who love nature. It took billions of years to produce oil and coal and we are using it up in a few hundred years, renewable energy is a must and from what I have learned wind and solar is definitely not the answer but hydro power has done us well and how about geothermal? Just keep politics out of it.

  • rima

    great pictiures

  • Frances Camacho

    Awesome pics..enjoy them immensely..

  • Himal

    They are soo beautiful.I love the An eagle skims the Hama Hama river just outsidethe ONF.
    I still don’t understand why, most of the people can’t see the beauty of this nature….
    Why don’t they just stop running and feel,feel this beauty………

  • Frances

    Your pictures are always fantastic!

  • alvaro

    le fotografia sono meravigliose stupendo e interessantissimo

  • Javier M. de la Garza

    Thankful as always for such a fine work.

  • Siamak

    Your pictures are beautiful.i like them.

  • Jay Lenz

    I have read pros and cons about the danger to wildlife from windmills but have yet to see any real proof of damage. I think they look terrible cluttering the hillside. Maybe we should put them on the moon where we cant see them. I understand the costs of construction and maintenance of windmills is very high compared to the power produced by water powered generators, but then the dams create problems with fish migration, etc. Why hasn’t some one in this country tried parabolic mirror heat transmission?, at least a good way to eliminate our trash. May be a big problem for wildlife there too!

  • Joie Christiansen

    Loved the incredible pictures taken by Jordan Holsinger. It’s a win win for those of us who love nature but are unable to tolerate it’s extremes, that these brave scientists can work their magic in the fields and then document their work with thoughtfully beautiful pics that we can all enjoy.

  • Amanda

    They have been captured beautiful & rare scenes in environment. I would like to encourage & thank them to doing this hard work.

  • Yenni Hera

    Awesome……:)

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