Throughout Oregon, we enjoy an abundance of rivers, streams, and other bodies of water. But how much do we really know about these ever-connected aquatic veins, which meander throughout much of the West Coast. Here, Phillip Elden answers a few common questions on rivers.
Q: What do all rivers and streams have in common?
Phillip Elden: While no two rivers look exactly alike, they are all similar in that they begin high. The high point of a running body of water can be found in an elevated area such as a mountain or hill. Rivers often begin as snowmelt, or are initiated by a natural spring. Small streams almost always find their way to one another to become larger rivers and rivers always find their way to a larger body of water, such as a lake or ocean.
Phillip Elden, and Oregon-based conservation specialist, says that one of the best ways to fully appreciate what Mother Nature has provided is to get out into the big wide world. And there are plenty of ways to do just that without having to pitch a tent and rough it for the weekend.
According to Phillip Elden, over the last couple of decades, there has been a trend toward wilderness travel. This means people are taking vacations that emphasize nature over urban areas. In Washington, for example, the Alderbrook Resort and Spa gives visitors access to more than 500 acres of hiking and incorporates a mountain theme throughout the expansive resort.
Visitors to Yellowstone National Park have a less luxurious but equally impressive experience awaiting at the Old Faithful Inn, the famous resort built in 1903. Phillip Elden notes that this historic landmark is void of luxuries including air-conditioning and television. Instead, it encourages vacationers to take advantage of the surrounding landscape and to spend time outdoors.
In a perfect world, campfires would stay contained and be used only for s’mores and hot dogs. However, it’s not a perfect world and the vast majority of wildfires, which are sometimes fatal, are caused by careless campers. Phillip Elden says education is the best weapon against tragedy.
According to Phillip Elden, your first priority if you’re planning to build a campfire is to make sure that your particular site allows fires in the first place. Check with your local park ranger to see if there are burn bans in place and pay attention to the wind. A mild breeze is likely not a problem, however, high winds can easily send smoldering debris through the air, and leave your fire out of control.
You already know you aren’t supposed to feed wild animals but do you know why? Here, conservation strategist Phillip Elden offers four answers to that very important question.
1. Your food wasn’t made for animal bellies.
According to Phillip Elden, people food does not contain the right balance of protein and fat to be healthy to wild animals. In fact, feeding the ducks and geese at the local lake can even deform the animals you’re trying to help out. Waterfowl that subsist on a diet of human-provided crackers, bread, and popcorn may develop “angel wings,” wings that aren’t strong enough to fly.
2. Feeding wild animals makes them less fearful of people.
You’re scared of wolves and bears but they, along with most other creatures, are also afraid of you. When you feed deer and other seemingly docile critters, you allow them to lose this fear and that’s not a good thing. Phillip Elden cautions that animals that become comfortable around humans can quickly become a hazard.
Phillip Elden has dedicated his life – both personally and professionally — to the conserving land and animals in his home state of Oregon. Here, the Native Oregon founder talks about tree conservation strategies that can be implemented by homeowners across the nation.
Q: Why is tree conservation important?
Phillip Elden: Trees are one of our most important natural resources. Not only do they help clear the air of pollutants, they also a provide valuable habitat for thousands of animals across North America. Birds and squirrels, for instance, make their homes in and around trees while certain insects rely on the canopy shade for survival.
Q: How can community leaders discuss tree conservation efforts with township citizens?
Phillip Elden: The first step would be to obtain and distribute information regarding local trees and wildlife. This can be culled from horticulturists, landscape architects, and forestry professionals. Information can then be discussed in length at community meetings.
While Zoos get a bad reputation, many are a final destination for animals who could not fend for themselves in the wild, says conservationist Phillip Elden. Here, the Oregon native shares information on a few of the state’s finest zoological parks.
The Oregon Zoo, according to Phillip Elden, works tirelessly to promote preservation of the world’s most at-risk animals. In addition to its exhibits of local and global wildlife and habitats, the zoo operates a number of wildlife conservation projects on site, including the California condor breeding facility. It is currently working with organizations throughout the state to help protect Western pond turtle hatchlings.
Phillip Elden also enjoys the Oregon Coast Aquarium. Here, children can learn about jellyfish, sea turtles, coastal mammals, and more. The aquarium also hosts dozens of beach cleanup days throughout the year. Education programs are available for children of all ages on everything from anemones to plankton. For adventurous kids and their families, the aquarium also offers the opportunity to sleep under the tunnels and enjoy more personal attention from staff.
It’s still cold but the spring and summer vacation seasons are fast approaching. That’s left many wondering how the rampant wildfires of 2017 might affect their 2018 vacation plans. Phillip Elden, a conservationist and natural landscape and wildlife expert, answers a few questions about common landmarks in relation to the fires.
Q: What is the status of Mount Jefferson?
Phillip Elden: The Whitewater fire was one of the first to trigger panic throughout the state. It torched more than 11,500 acres of prime hiking and backpacking trails. The fire, which was started by lightning, has not caused any long-term damage to Jefferson Park, though Mount Jefferson remains closed until late spring to early summer.