Nature Mapping

Students looking at Owl Pellets The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) in partnership with the Washington Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit Gap Analysis Project at the University of Washington initiated a pilot project in September, 1993. Teachers were asked to collect "real" data for a statewide biological database. The Gap Analysis project is now named NatureMapping.

For more information about Nature Mapping in Washington State contact:

Investigating animal signsThe NatureMapping Program is a hands-on approach for students to be involved in a scientific study. Participating students learn animal identification, how to look for signs of animals, how to work with a compass/GPS and how to work with various computer programs.

Learning is Fun!West Valley 5th Grade students help NatureMap each fall at Latah Creek.

If you are interested in upcoming nature mapping classes email us for a registration form.

Now let's take a look at something that will certainly be of interest to anyone who is looking to connect with nature in the most down to earth and natural way there is. By getting outdoors and going camping!

Camping in the Great Outdoors

There is nothing quite as exhilarating and enjoyable as getting down to basics and hooking up with nature with a camping trip in the great outdoors. There are plenty of things to do once you're there, but if you've never done it before, there are some things you probably should know about first.

It all depends on what kind of camping expedition you have in mind of course as to the level of skills you will need to learn. If you're just driving out to the countryside in your RV, then you probably don't need to know so much.

But of you intend getting into the wilderness with little more than a tent and basic supplies, maybe up a mountain or something along those lines, you're going to need to be prepared for anything. Let's take a brief look at that here.

What You Need When Camping in the Wilderness

First up you need a good strong but lightweight tent that is fairly easy to put up and take down but will protect you from the elements and keep you snug and dry. Paying a visit to a good outdoor store and talking to an expert is a pretty good idea on that score to make sure you get yourself the best tent you can afford for the trip.

Next you'll need supplies to last you for the duration of your trip. Again, they will need to be packed well in a backpack so as to not take up too much space and not be too heavy. You don't want to be hiking for several miles with a really heavy weight on your back!

You will need cooking equipment unless you really plan on going native and building your own fire (which you should if you're really serious about this). Cooking and eating utensils are a must, preferably stainless steel lightweight stuff that again is not too much of a burden to carry. You will also need a sharp knife and maybe a multi-use option like a Swiss army knife to cover every eventuality.

You may also need some kind of heating source especially if you intend camping during the cold winter months or are aiming to climb a pretty high mountain. A decent portable propane heater for camping outdoors is a must with sufficient spare propane canisters to last you.

Next up you will need the right clothing for the trip which has to be durable, warm and easy to wash if you need to with spare underwear and socks at the ready. Strong hiking boots are another absolute must to protect your feet and keep them dry in all weathers, which is something trainers cannot do!

You will also need some form of low power lighting and maybe a solar powered setup with a portable photovoltaic recharging system so you don't need to carry a load of heavy spare batteries around with you. You can get LED lighting which is very frugal with its power consumption and a single pack of rechargeable batteries that will do the job for you.

Some kind of communications device is also handy and these can now be had cheaply enough and are light and portable enough to go in your backpack. If you are getting right out in the wilds, your cell phone may not get a signal, so you may need an alternative such as a small short wave radio set.

The whole trip should be well planned from start to finish to make it as pleasant as possible and so you don't find yourself getting into trouble through lack of foresight of the things you will need to have with you as well as all the survival skills you will need to have gained before starting out. More on camping here.