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Scrapbook: For Kathleen Wilson, it's a Resilient Habitat in Her Backyard

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September 29, 2011

For Kathleen Wilson, it's a Resilient Habitat in Her Backyard

Kathleen Wilson Resilient Habitats

Kathleen Wilson has every incentive to keep the Puget Sounds Ecoregion intact. For starters, she lives adjacent to Lake Wenatchee, Wash., a serenely quiet area in Wenatchee National Forest. But she was recently reminded of what's at stake when a logging company did its thing along an area against the backend of Kathleen's property line.

"They forewarned me a long time ago that the land was for sale and they would log it. But now that they've done it, it's just destruction everywhere. They left a huge mess," says the Resilient Habitats activist.

The Greater Puget Sound Ecoregion embodies three National Parks -- Olympic, Mt. Rainier, and North Cascades -- and connects eastward to Wenatchee, Mt. Baker, and Okanogan National Forest. Orcas and salmon are high priorities for the campaign, along with the overall health of the forests that embody this wild ecological corridor.

Kathleen Wilson Sierra Club Resilient Habitats2

"For someone who's never been here, I'd describe it as mountainous with plenty of rivers and access to all these trails with by pine trees, fir, maple," she says. "I have wild blueberries growing in my yard. I've actually picked them and made blueberry jam. The views are amazing. I think we're lucky to live here and I know that other people in this area are very protective as well."

Kathleen sees wildlife everyday.

"The day I moved in I had to wait for a bear to get off the road on the property before I could move in," she says. She frequently spots bears, eagles, ospreys, and deer going about their business. It's a harmonious living situation for Kathleen and the wildlife. "I'll look out my kitchen window and there are two deer looking back at me wondering what I'm up to."

Kathleen's love of the outdoors comes from her parents, who, when she was young, converted a bus and drove the family up and down the country through national parks.

"This was before the days of motor homes. We'd arrive in our bus and people would look at us. We went everywhere," she says.

She recalls the day the bus broke down in Yellowstone.

"Back then bears could freely roam throughout the park and at one point a bear was approaching the parked cars," she says. "The bus didn't have any power and the bear headed right for us. All you had to do was lean on the door and the door would open. We were all screaming as the bear was patting on the door. We were all ready to head out the back door. Those are the memories."

As a kid, she'd find a trail with her siblings and just start hiking.

"We'd just find a trail and see where it went."

Kathleen Wilson Sierra Club Resilient Habitats

Kathleen first joined the Sierra Club more than 30 years ago during an effort to clean up the Duwamish River.

"It was ugly. You didn't even want to put your toe in there."

The EPA identified the polluting culprits, but Kathleen was dismayed that the agency ceased work on restoring the river once the pollution stopped. She joined other Club members and wrote letters, being that it was "a time before computers, she says.

"Now with the internet I sign everything and all petitions online. I do it all, whether it's 350.org or Hands Across the Sand," she says. "I wrote about it in the paper, but there were a lot of negative responses, which amazed me. There just seems to be two different realities for people."

Kathleen Wilson Sierra Club Resilient Habitats3

Climate change has affected the Puget Sound area, but not in ways you'd might expect. The area has endured huge amounts of snowfall in recent years, unseen by lifetime residents. As if these bizarre climate shifts weren't enough, Kathleen also wonders how the climate has affected the terrain in her area, which now requires adding artificial acid to grow vegetables because of the low pH level in the soil.

"Puget Sound starts here. We have to start right here in our homes, keeping pollution down and making good choices with the things we buy. We have to stop contributing to any more destruction."

Learn more about the Sierra Club Resilient Habitats campaign.

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