Inside our parks Gray whales migrate past Washington’s coastline every winter, making this an ideal time for land-based whale-watching opportunities.
The Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center at Cape Disappointment State Park will host Whale Watching Week March 23-30.
Volunteers will be stationed at the visitor center, overlooking the Pacific Ocean, to help visitors spot flukes and fins of passing gray whales.
The volunteers, on duty from 10 a.m.-1 p.m., are part of the Whale Watching Spoken Here Program that is part of the Oregon State Parks & Recreation Department. The volunteers are stationed at 24 locations from Cape Disappointment south to Crescent City, Calif. You can learn more about whale watching training and how to become a Whale Watching Spoken Here volunteer by visiting oregon.gov/oprd/parks/whalewatchingcenter.
For more information, contact the interpretive center at 360-642-3029.
Winners of two prestigious National Park Service honors have Washington connections.
Ranger Brandon Torres, a former Olympic National Park staffer, was recently awarded the 2012 Harry Yount National Park Ranger Award for excellence in the art of rangering.
Since becoming a park ranger in 1998, he has helped others as a federal law enforcement officer, paramedic, rescuer, firefighter, coach, guide and teacher.
“In a profession where extreme dedication and high standards are the norm, Brandon Torres has set himself apart with his impressive leadership ability and wilderness skills,” National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis said at the awards ceremony.
“It’s flattering to be recognized as a ranger who can perform in a wide range of situations and it has been a privilege to serve in a number of unique and different ways,” Torres said in a news release.
The award, named after the first known park ranger, is the agency’s most prestigious ranger honor.
Also recognized at the ceremony were the recipients of the 2012 George and Helen Hartzog Awards for Outstanding Volunteer Service. The awards are named for former Park Service Director George B. Hartzog, Jr. who started the Volunteers-In-Parks program in 1970.
Among the 2012 recipients was Dr. Brett Oppegaard from Fort Vancouver National Historic Site. He received the Hartzog Individual Service Award. Through more than 5,000 hours of volunteer service over the past four years, Oppegaard led the creation of Fort Vancouver apps. He led a team of 20 core collaborators and about 100 other community members. Interpretive material, including the vast majority of the content within the apps, was created by the team just for this purpose. These free apps have been downloaded by visitors more than 1,000 times.
Work is under way to remove a dock that washed ashore within the boundaries of the Olympic National Park and Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary. The dock came ashore on a remote beach north of the Hoh River mouth.
The dock will be dismantled on site and then removed by helicopter. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration awarded the contract for more than $625,000 to The Undersea Co. of Port Townsend, which hopes to complete the work by the end of the month.
The 65-foot-long dock washed ashore in December after being pushed out to sea by the March 2011 Japanese tsunami.