Our focus was twofold. We worked to understand the ecology of temperate rainforests, with a concentration on the regional ecosystems of the Olympic Peninsula. Second, we studied the process of policy formation and analysis in order to understand the forces that shape human claims on the peninsula’s forests. We conducted original research on snag density in forested regions and compiled the data into a comprehensive report. We gathered and interpreted information concerning the social and cultural aspects of temperate rainforests, particularly the use of forest products and the public policy behind decisions that affect,temperate rainforest management.
Skill-building workshops included plant identification, field ecological techniques for vegetation classification, public policy analysis, and the use of computers for bibliographic searches and information retrieval. We also exchanged information and ideas outside of class time using e-mail and Internet based conferencing software. Optional sessions on creating web pages on the Internet were also accomplished.
Students took two field trips to the Olympic Peninsula to gather
primary information on
ecological and human aspects of temperate rainforests. The second one was done
independently by smaller student teams. Appreciation of the aesthetic aspects of rainforests was fostered through art, photographic images, an aerial flight, and river raft trip. Students kept journals that chronicled significant insights, and sketchbooks that fostered personal close observations and aesthetic explorations. Knowledgeable professionals from a number of different fields also lectured as guests adding new and different perspectives about the forest.
After data analysis and synthesis, we held a student organized and
mock hearing on the practice of Salvage Timber Harvesting on the Olympic
Peninsula. Teams of two researched and represented key constituent
groups with a stake in the health of the peninsula’s ecology and communities.
Reports, testimony, and recommendations were presented. The drafting
of a joint resolution on the issue by all of the groups was also done in
order to explore the difficulties and rewards of consensus building.
All reports, policy memoranda and resolutions were placed on the program’s
web page. Final recommendations were prepared by a student panel who also
represented individuals with specialized knowledge.
The Reading List
On-line Program Discussions