Ice Age Floods and geology were significant parts of a recently completed Oregon Master Naturalist program for the Columbia Gorge. This region ranges through a tremendous variety of ecosystems, environments and ecologies within only a 50-mile radius. Major dammed rivers and free-flowing wild and scenic tributaries host a wide variety of indigenous to migratory fish stocks and river ecologies. Boreal rainforests transition to oak woodlands, high desert grasslands, and sub-alpine to alpine environments, all within that 50-mile radius. Woven through all these are compelling geologic, cultural, and historical elements. All those stories were interwoven through multiple field days spent exploring the ecosystems of the Columbia Gorge region and the factors that influence them.
Geologic stories of the peaceful Columbia River Gorge range over 50+ million cataclysmic years of arc volcanism, massive flood basalts, massive ice age floods, river-damming lahars, catastrophic landslides and earthquakes. It’s amazing to witness people’s intense interest in geology, especially in their own ‘backyards’, and that’s especially true for these students as they become certified master naturalists. These folks have committed to many hours of online coursework, multiple days of field experiences, and to sharing the knowledge they’ve garnered in 40 hours/year of volunteer hours. On behalf of the Ice Age Floods Institute, I’m honored to be one of the group of ‘experts’ helping to feed the curiosity of these budding master naturalists, and in the process expand my own knowledge of this amazing region. Find out more about the Oregon Master Naturalist program at http://oregonmasternaturalist.org/.
Lloyd DeKay – President, Columbia River Gorge Chapter