Speaker series highlights animals, geology and history of the Mount Baker region



Heather Meadows Visitor Center.


Speakers in the annual summer series at Heather Meadows will discuss a range of topics, from apex predators of the North Cascades to the geology and ecology of the Mount Baker wilderness.

This weekend features a repeat of a popular talk, "Lions, No Tigers, and Bears. Oh My," with U.S. Forest Service volunteer Elmer Roomsa.

He'll share information about the black bear and cougar populations of the area, said Magenta Widner, a forestry technician who works at the Glacier Public Service Center, the ranger station just east of Glacier.

"He does present a program for all ages," Widner said. "He talks about bears and mountain lions, and has examples of their pelts."

Roomsa's free talk is at 1 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 3, in the Heather Meadows Visitor Information Center at milepost 54 on the Mount Baker Highway.

It's the first of the series that continues on most weekends through Sept. 21. All except the final talk are in the main room of the Heather Meadows center, which was built in 1940 by the Civilian Conservation Corps as a warming hut for skiers before the Mount Baker Ski Area was developed. Its rock and heavy timbers in the Cascadia architectural style blend into the rock ledge along the Austin Pass Picnic Area.

It's open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. through the summer. There's ample parking and a picnic area, but no potable water and only pit toilets. Volunteers who staff the center can answer questions and provide maps and other information. There are natural history displays and a small gift shop. Trails in the area - many of which are easy enough for families with small children - offer a chance for people of all ages and abilities to experience the beauty of the North Cascades.

Visitors need a $5 day pass or a $30 annual Northwest Forest Pass. Both are available at the Glacier ranger station near milepost 34. It has restrooms, natural history displays and a relief map of the Mount Baker region.

Widner said the speaker series helps visitors learn about the natural and cultural history of the area. Most talks are 30 minutes long, with an opportunity to ask questions.

Another popular program is the Aug. 17 "Nooksack Stories," with Tammy Cooper-Woodrich, a Nooksack tribal elder who will share traditional stories about the animals, plants, and people along the Nooksack River.

"Tammy, she's great," Widner said. "She talks some about their traditions as well as telling some of their stories."

Complete list of summer talks:

- 1 p.m. Aug. 3, "Lions, No Tigers, and Bears. Oh My."

- 1 p.m. Aug. 10: "Coexisting with Washington's Bears," with Frances Boyens of Western Wildlife Outreach, who will discuss grizzlies and black bears and how to tell them apart. Boyens will discuss what they eat, where they live and what to do if you encounter a bear in the wild. Boylens will bring skulls, furs and other items to examine.

- 1 p.m. Aug. 17: "Nooksack Stories."

- 1 p.m. Aug.18: "The Grand Lady of Mount Baker" with local historian Michael Impero, who is author of the books "The Lone Jack: King of the Mount Baker Mining District" and "Dreams of Gold." He'll discuss his new research into the original Mount Baker Lodge.

- 1 p.m. Aug. 24: "North Cascades Glaciers," featuring Jon Riedel of the North Cascades National Park.

- 1 p.m. Aug. 31: Dave Tucker, volcanologist and Western Washington University research associate, presents his popular program about "The Explosive History of Heather Meadows."

-1 p.m. Sept. 1: Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association members offer insight into "Where Rivers are Born." They'll discuss the five types of Pacific salmon found in the Nooksack River Basin, river ecology, and stewardship practices.

-1 p.m. Sept. 21: "Searching for Raptors: A Subalpine Sashay" offers participants a chance to stretch their legs and look for birds of prey near Artist Point with expert David Drummond, executive director of the Merlin Falcon Foundation. Meet the near Artist Point restrooms.


The Bellingham Parks and Recreation Department offers its 24th annual Kids' Festival free from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 3, at Bloedel Donovan Park, 2214 Electric Ave. near Alabama Street. It features games, food and activities for elementary-age children. For more information, call Amanda Grove or Amber Williams at 360-778-7000.


About 20 girls from a Tokyo high school will showcase Japanese traditions in "From Tokyo to Bellingham" from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 7, in the downstairs Children's Library at the Bellingham Public Library, 210 Central Ave. They'll have activities such as origami, flag making and map coloring, and the students will answer questions about their school and favorite foods. They'll also offer a reading corner with books from Japan and the U.S.

Suggest your ideas for family-friendly events or day trips to Robert Mittendorf at 360-756-2805 or robert.mittendorf@bellinghamherald.com.

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