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WSU Extension

Winter 2013

Watching the sea

The paint has barely dried at the new Salish Sea Research Center near Bellingham, but the $2.2 million facility is already in use. Student scientists dip into a freezer full of recently collected shellfish, a Zodiac boat and a collection of waders are drying in the back mud room, and several projects to study acidity in the water and the health of the aquatic organisms are already underway.

The Northwest Indian College was established in 1973 to train technicians who would work in Indian-run fish and shellfish hatcheries throughout the region. More recently it has expanded to include two- and four-year college degrees. And today … » More …

Fall 2011

Video: Small forest management

Kevin Zobrist, a Washington State University Extension educator, teaches forest stewardship in the northern Puget Sound region. He helps landowners manage their forests and keep their woodlands healthy. He explains the differences between natural and human-planted forest growth, and the difficulties in creating a diverse landscape that mimics natural forests. Linda Kast ’75, a graduate of WSU’s forest management clinic, tells how she came to own wooded property in western Washington.

Read more in “Seeing the Trees” in the Fall 2011 issue of Washington State Magazine.

Fall 2011

Video: Valley View Fires of 2008 and Firewise Community

In 2008, the Valley View fire in the Dishman Hills outside of Spokane burned 13 homes and 1,200 acres. A number of homes survived because residents applied Firewise principles to protect their residences. In this video produced by the Spokane County Conservation District, some of those residents discuss the fire, how they prepared their homes, and what happened during the blaze.

Length: 19 minutes, 21 seconds.

Courtesy Spokane County Conservation District. 

Read more about wildfires and communities in “When wildfire comes to town.”

Fall 2011

How you contribute to soil health

If you contribute your daily bodily wastes to a municipal waste treatment plant, you are more than likely directly benefiting Washington soils.

According to Puyallup soil scientist Craig Cogger, each person in Washington produces about 60 pounds of biosolids per year. “Biosolid” is a euphemism for human waste and other inputs once they have been treated at a wastewater treatment plant. For the past 15 years, Cogger has helped spread biosolids on wheat land in Douglas County and studied the effect.

That effect has surprised him.

“We have seen a remarkable increase in organic matter,” he says, “despite the fact that the amount of biosolids … » More …

Fall 2011

Seeing the trees

At the south end of Whidbey Island, off a tree-lined road, Linda Kast ’75 pulls her station wagon up to a gate and jumps out. She opens her hatchback and extracts a thick folder containing maps, a history, and an inventory of her small wooded acreage.

As she leafs through it she explains that she bought this 11-acre forest nine years ago in memory of land her family used to own and regularly visit on Whidbey when she was a child growing up in Seattle.

At the time she bought the property, Kast signed up for a forest stewardship class with Washington State University. Her … » More …

Fall 2011

When wildfire comes to town

Flames ripped through the pines and brush in the Dishman Hills west of Spokane Valley in July 2008, just as they’ve done for thousands of years. A dry wind pushed the fire up a hill, hotter and faster, and straight into a new development of expensive homes, destroying 13 of them and burning 1,200 acres.

The wildfire’s destruction was not surprising or unexpected. But the number of homes and residents who survived the blaze serves as a testament to smart planning, an awareness of inevitable fires, and research into the interaction of fire-prone wildlands and the growing number of people who live near them.

Although … » More …

Summer 2011

Business is blooming

On a sunny weekend in early spring, 40 farmers and would-be cut flower growers fill the second floor of the barn at Jello Mold Farm in the Skagit Valley. Bundled in their coats against the cool morning, they eagerly listen to more experienced farmers, a florist, a grocery store buyer, and a floral designer talk about ways to grow and sell their peonies, ranunculus, and dahlias.

As new subjects come up, notebooks and pens sprout in their hands. They note that hydrangeas, roses, and lilies could be the “workhorses” in their bouquets. They learn that the demand is growing for local and seasonal flowers. … » More …