Welcoming 2017

Back to nature

In the chill of the New Year, I recently hiked a trail I had yet to explore. With snowshoes strapped to our daypacks, a couple friends and I spent an afternoon venturing and appreciating the icy foothills of the Olympic Mountains.

We zig-zagged our way along Little River on the Little River Trail, and within about a mile we had followed the trail into Olympic National Park, bound for Hurricane Hill. The narrow path, blanketed by winter, was outlined by towering boulders, to which impressive icicles clung. Although hardened by the frost, the rock faces had a softness to them with an array of plant life growing from what appeared to be an uninhabitable surface.

The snow forced a sense of curiosity by leaving clues of what had come before us – making you think about the variety of trail users, from chickadees and squirrels to fellow hikers.

If you let it, nature seems to have a way of grounding you. I find that nature reminds me of life’s simple beauties, as well as the things that allow for a quality life, including enriching foods, clean water, fresh air and the safety of a warm shelter. When surrounded by nature, it demands my presence, right down to my every footstep as I carefully navigated the slick trail before me.

To devote even a brief afternoon immersed in nature was a refreshing start to 2017. Now, nearly a month into the New Year I want to remind, or perhaps challenge, others to prioritize getting outdoors this year. The North Olympic Peninsula offers its residents and visitors a wealth of ways to engage with nature, from quiet parks to unknown areas of wilderness.

A humbling year-end leads to a strong start to 2017

As I thoroughly enjoyed my hike along Little River, I also was reminded of the importance of land conservation. Living on the North Olympic Peninsula, it can be easy to take the incredible and diverse place that it is for granted or not fully understand the efforts underway to ensure it remains a complex tapestry of landscapes.

Thoughtful conservation can be key in balancing different land uses, and North Olympic Land Trust is just one of the tools available to help create both a resilient community and land base.

As a community-supported nonprofit, the Land Trust relies largely on individual support. As 2016 drew to a close, I was humbled by the generosity from the community. Each contribution adds up and creates the financial foundation that allows the organization to continue to conserve local land for farms, fish and forests.

Little River

Thanks to you, we (the Land Trust) aim to complete conservation of the Historic Ward Farm by February. Moving forward, we’ll be working to replenish funds used for the farm’s conservation in order to prepare for upcoming conservation opportunities. Among the emerging projects are a possible 132 acres of farmland in eastern Clallam County, and more than 30 acres surrounding the mainstem of the Elwha River, which includes some of the best salmon habitat within the watershed.

With that, here’s to 2017!

By Alana Linderoth
Community Engagement Specialist, North Olympic Land Trust