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.
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: