The Wenatchee World

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Latest Posts

Community Connections
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Susan Ballinger | Leavenworth Ski Hill: Bursting with blooms and birds

The snow is long gone at Leavenworth Ski Hill where formerly white ski slopes are blanketed with green thickets and splashes of color. Each week in spring, a new wave of wildflowers come into bloom and several new species of migratory birds arrive back to their summer home and birdsong fills the air. Managed by the U.S. Forest Service and open to the public year-round, visitors find themselves just minutes from busy Highway 2, but miles away in spirit once they walk into the forest.
Community Connections
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Susan Ballinger | Popular walk-and-talk series underway in Wenatchee

Last Thursday evening, a group of 12 valley residents gathered at the Saddle Rock Trailhead to take a trip back into time. Chelan-Douglas Land Trust is offering a free, 10-week Thursday evening Walk-and-Talk series in the Wenatchee Foothills and Chris Rader was the third featured guest speaker on May 5. Chris is a local history researcher and writer, recently retired from the  Wenatchee Valley Museum and Cultural Center. 
Community Connections

Susan Ballinger | Consider becoming a citizen scientist

Citizen Science is a new rapidly growing collection of projects in which volunteers partner with scientists to answer real-world questions. It greatly expands the opportunity for field data collection beyond what paid scientists have time to accomplish. Locally, volunteer citizen scientists help biologists monitor pygmy rabbits, document migratory songbirds that nest in sagebrush lands, and conduct monthly counts of bird species at a variety of sites. 
Community Connections

Susan Ballinger | Wenatchee Valley wintering Anna's Hummingbirds

Maybe your neighbor has told you about scrambling to build a heated nectar feeder in recent winters to serve hungry Anna’s hummingbirds. Ingenuity and cleverness are evident in the variety of solutions many residents have employed to ensure that visiting hummers can access liquid sugar solutions, despite weeks of frigid winter temperatures in Eastern Washington. Why are we seeing increasing numbers of Anna’s hummingbirds in our snowy cold climate? A key element of biological science study is that there are so many unanswered questions about common life forms, and our ...
Community Connections
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Susan Ballinger | Wildfires affect on local landscape

Last summer on July 7, 2014, my husband and I landed in Fairbanks, Alaska, after a 10-day wilderness river trip. We turned on our cell phones and found text messages about a brush fire along Skyline Drive next to our home. Earlier that morning, our house-sitter loaded our car with dogs and musical instruments under a Level 3 evacuation order. Fortunately, skillful firefighters and a dozer driver plowed a fireline on the western flank that effectively stopped the flames along the top ridge of Saddle Rock City Park. We were ...
Community Connections
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Susan Ballinger | Neotropical migrants raising young in our canyons

Hanging clothes on my backyard clothesline gives me a chance to look west, up into the V-shaped No. 2 Canyon, where steep sagebrush-covered slopes plunge down to the brushy canyon bottomland. As I hang deep-blue jeans, bright white sheets, and a sienna orange tee shirt, I picture these three vivid colors marking a singing male lazuli bunting, just up the canyon. He is perched atop a serviceberry, at the edge of the tangle of trees and shrubs that shade the small creek. As I hang a bright yellow towel, my ...
Community Connections

Susan Ballinger | Eco-tourism is at your backdoor

For me, the change of season to spring makes me want get to outside to explore new places and see wildlife, wildflowers, and expansive views. Similar to being a tourist in a foreign county it makes sense to engage a local guide who knows exactly where to go, and what to be looking for. This spring, I’d like to invite you to take part of a guided outing or even attend a regional wildflower or wildlife festival!
Community Connections
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Susan Ballinger | Take action to preserve whitebark pine

The sharp scent of fresh-cut pine is a signature of the holidays and reminds us of our deep human connection to conifer trees. Our Eastside Cascade forests are home to four native pines: ponderosa, lodgepole, western white and whitebark. Pines grow signature cones, each containing seeds. Most commonly when ripe, the woody cone scales open and spread apart, exposing a seed surrounded by a papery wing that is easily carried away by the wind. However, whitebark pinecones never open on their own so their large wingless seeds remain encased inside ...
Community Connections
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Susan Ballinger | Golden October

Low-angled, fleeting October sunshine sharpens the fall foliage display of our native deciduous shrubs and trees. My favorite tree this time of year is the larch, a species that breaks the rule that says a conifer tree must have evergreen needles. Larch needles turn golden orange in October, lighting up the mountainside with a shimmering glow. Come November, the ground below a larch is carpeted with soft brown needles and the tree’s bare branches make the tree look dead. In the Cascades and the greater Pacific Northwest, we have two ...
Community Connections
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Susan Ballinger | New guide points out our native shrubs, trees

June in the Wenatchee Valley is peak bloom time for many native shrubs that form dense thickets in foothill ravines and alongside streams. Have you caught a whiff of sweet citrus perfume wafting from Lewis’s mock-orange? Or, been reminded of crashing ocean waves by the frothy sea-foam flower head of oceanspray? Have you cracked a smile at the over-sized flat-topped white mass of flowers on the gangly blue elderberry?
Community Connections
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Susan Ballinger | Make it an adventure, don’t mention the hike

If you ask local parents who routinely take their children out on the trails of our region, they will likely advise you not to ask kids if they want to go on a hike — as most will reply with a resounding “no.” Instead, be a clever parent and describe an adventure destination that includes a picnic and downplay the fact that everyone will have to hike to get there!
Community Connections

Susan Ballinger | How you can connect with nature

Would you like to spend a few Saturdays this fall exploring our local river valleys, with a seasoned naturalist as your guide? Does it sound fun to linger stream-side on a gravel bar, with the warm September sun on your back, taking notes on what you see? Would you enjoy strolling beneath a grove of leafy cottonwood trees while trying to spot a bird calling overhead? If you’ve answered “yes,” consider signing up for the Wenatchee-based Wenatchee Naturalist course, a program of the Wenatchee River Institute. The fall course begins ...