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Craig Goodwin
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Happy Thanksgiving all. We are so blessed and very thankful. This should be a great weekend for hitting the slopes. Enjoy and be safe! Continue reading
Posted 8 hours ago at Black Diamond NOW
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The answer is a lot according to a new computer model called the National Tree Benefit Calculator. Obviously, this is not something used by timber cruisers in the logging business. The model is intended to help quantify the annual value of trees grown in an urban/suburban setting. We have quite a few large douglas fir trees on our property so I thought I'd see what the model calculates as their value. Here's the results for an average 45" diameter douglas fir growing in Black Diamond based on our climate data - nearly $118 per year per tree. According to the... Continue reading
Posted yesterday at Black Diamond NOW
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If you want to see how the "experts" fish for Kokanee salmon, now is spawning time at Wolf Lodge Bay. Each December and early January, about 250 bald eagles congregate at the east end of Lake Coeur d' Alene to get their fill of salmon and build up energy reserves as they continue their seasonal migration to warmer climes. Wolf Lodge Bay offers some of the best viewing of eagles as they dive to dine on one of their favorite meals. This year, spawning appears to be early and eagles are congregating already. You will find eagles feeding throughout the... Continue reading
Posted 2 days ago at Black Diamond NOW
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What technological innovation paved the way for the age of the automobile (pun intended)? Henry Ford certainly deserves credit with his introduction of the Model A and Model T, but how good is having an automobile if you don't have roads that can be driven on? When the first automobile arrived in Washington State in 1900, there were few "drivable" roads. Roads were built for wagons and buggies. "Paving" a road often meant little more than compacting mud after a little sand had been spread on top. Photo courtesy University of Washington Libraries, IND0604, circa 1903 The above photo of... Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at Black Diamond NOW
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Despite living in the middle of what once was the Northwest's coal belt, it remains hard to visualize just how big a factor mining once was, both economically and geographically. I've finally found a map that helps put it all in perspective. Maintained by the State Department of Natural Resources (DNR), their data base can tell you a whole lot about the history and design of each mine. Following is an overview. Zooming in a little closer, we can see just how many mines were once in our immediate area. A lot. Each of the triangles represents the full underground... Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at Black Diamond NOW
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For birding fans, our new year is already beginning. This week, I sighted one juvenile and one mature bald eagle at Lake Sawyer and 3 more along the Cedar River between Renton and Maple Valley. Three more at Nisqually too. Most noticeable are all of the ducks migrating through. Following are a few that I've seen so far. Male Northern Shoveler - notice the size of his beak. Well equipped. Female American Gadwall Female Common Mergansers Green-winged Teal Northern Pintail Mr. & Mrs. American Widgeon Dozens of Mallards on the lake right now too. Keep a lookout for Wood Ducks,... Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at Black Diamond NOW
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There was nothing easy about early logging in the northwest. Huge trees, steep terrain, remote locations and ornery oxen were but a few of the challenges. As stands of close-in timber were clear cut, the use of rail to transport logs from woods to mill became essential. But this cost money and often meant building trestles and climbing hillsides with 10% + grade. Then pack it all up a few years later once cut over and move on to the next stand of timber. That was the playbook. Steam locomotives at the time were all direct drive. If you wanted... Continue reading
Posted Nov 14, 2017 at Black Diamond NOW
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The John Henry Mine closed surface mining operations in 1999. In July 2010, the U.S. Office of Surface Mining (OSM) notified mine owner Pacific Coast Coal Company that they must commence mine reclamation immediately, denying a PCC permit application for the restart of mining activities. To quote from OSM's letter: “After eleven years with no mining activity or reclamation, the company must be held to a reasonable standard, which is why OSM has denied Pacific Coast’s permit.” PCC appealed and was issued a permit to restart mining, delaying costly mine reclamation. What's happened since then? Nothing. No mining. No reclamation.... Continue reading
Posted Nov 13, 2017 at Black Diamond NOW
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This is a great time of year for hiking into the Green River Gorge. Still some color left on trees and close to home for timing your hike between rain squalls. I decided to make a list of all the hikes into the gorge that I know and can get to without trespassing on private property. Here's a partial list: O'Grady Natural Area Kummer Bridge South Kummer Bridge North Flaming Geyser State Park South Flaming Geyser State Park North Icy Creek Cathedral Hanging Gardens Jellum Kanaskat Palmer State Park (multiple access points) Franklin (3+ access points from this hike) Gorge... Continue reading
Posted Nov 12, 2017 at Black Diamond NOW
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Earlier, I was shocked to find that Shell Oil had actually drilled a well seeking Oil & Gas here in Black Diamond back in 1947. Now I find records for 26 more Oil & Gas well drilling permits issued in the area between Hobart to the north and Enumclaw to the south - 3 of which were within Black Diamond city limits. There are also quite a few more as you head south along the foothills. Here's a map available online from state DNR. Each one of these blue dots represents an Oil & Gas well drilling permit. Zooming in,... Continue reading
Posted Nov 10, 2017 at Black Diamond NOW
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My biggest surprise, when doing research about the Department of Natural Resources in their role of managing state owned lands, was the amazing diversity of revenue sources now accruing to this land (see my earlier posts State Lands - A Real Jewel and Aquatic Gold). Of the 3.3 million acres now managed by DNR, timberlands account for the largest share - some 2.1 million acres. So it's no surprise that revenue from lucrative timber sales account for the vast majority of income. What is surprising is the remainder, including lease revenues from 1.1 million acres of Agriculture and Grazing Land,... Continue reading
Posted Nov 9, 2017 at Black Diamond NOW
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Now that the snows have arrived, it's time to hike/walk/bike trails closer to home and at lower elevations. With over 25 miles of trail connecting Buckley through South Prairie, Orting and on to McMillan near Sumner, the Foothills Trail offers much to explore. You can also take a side excursion up to Wilkeson and Carbonado along unimproved rail bed. John and Doreen Anderson recently reminded me that some important trail improvements have been completed this year, including new bridges over several unruly streams. Following is a trails map. The Foothills Trail is another rails to trails legacy of days gone... Continue reading
Posted Nov 7, 2017 at Black Diamond NOW
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What life form in Washington State matures at about 15 years of age and can live to be the ripe old age of 168 or older? When an adult, it averages 2 1/2 pounds and can grow to be as large as 8 pounds. It likes to "dig deep" which is how it got its name from Native Americans. It is expected to generate $26.7 million in revenue for the State of Washington this year, second only to timber sales as an income generator at DNR. Looking at them will make you giggle. Ok, by now you should have guessed... Continue reading
Posted Nov 6, 2017 at Black Diamond NOW
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I got off my duff earlier this year and ordered calendars for Judy and my annual fund raiser to benefit the Black Diamond Community Center. Yeah, they have arrived. Last year, we ran out so I ordered more this year. I must say, I really like this year's edition - 13 months Dec. 2017 thru Dec. 2018 and really fun photos from close to home. Here's the cover photo Per feedback from last year, I've included a description of where each photo was taken. More photos from Lake Sawyer - 2 at sunrise and 2 sunsets. Several pics of Mt.... Continue reading
Posted Nov 5, 2017 at Black Diamond NOW
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In the summer of 1889, a constitutional convention comprised of 75 men convened in Olympia to draft a Washington State constitution. This was after several failed previous attempts. A new constitution in final draft was finally ratified by delegates on August 23 and sent to voters for approval. On October 1, voters approved it overwhelmingly by a 4 to 1 margin with nays primarily in eastern Washington. On November 11, 1889, then president Benjamin Harrison issued a proclamation admitting Washington as the 42nd state in the union. A nice summary of this history can be found at Statehood for Washington.... Continue reading
Posted Nov 3, 2017 at Black Diamond NOW
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No matter how many times Judy and I visit the Nisqually NWR, now officially named Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually, we return home commenting about how much fun we had. Late fall is a great time to visit the refuge - trees turning color and a wide variety of migrating birds beginning to visit on their way south for the winter. With several miles of trails and boardwalk, you can get plenty of exercise too. Tuesday is always a great time to visit if you are interested in learning more about birds. Each Tuesday morning, a group of real bird experts... Continue reading
Posted Nov 1, 2017 at Black Diamond NOW
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How tall can western red cedar trees grow in Western Washington? How big around can they get? At 125 feet, cedar are tall but not the tallest. Douglas fir grow to be even taller. But when it comes to girth, western red cedar appear to take the prize. Following is a photo of a cedar logged near Sedro Wooley in 1890. Photo University of Washington Libraries, LAR039, Frank La Roche photographer, circa 1890 I was able to count over 70 people either standing or sitting on the stump - fully 60 feet in circumference. Definitely worth showing up for picture... Continue reading
Posted Oct 31, 2017 at Black Diamond NOW
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Immigrants to the northwest in the late 1800's often brought special skills acquired in their homelands that perfectly matched the needs of the time. For example, Welsh for coal mining and Swedes for logging and sawmilling. Some of these immigrants even made it big such as Swede August Lovgren who founded the Preston Mill Company just east of Issaquah. Lovgren moved here just after the Great Seattle Fire in 1889 and started the Preston Mill Co. soon thereafter. After early struggles, the mill prospered, fueled by an influx of new Swedish immigrants and abundant quality timber. Keys to success were... Continue reading
Posted Oct 30, 2017 at Black Diamond NOW
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Grebes have recently returned to Lake Sawyer after a summer vacation up north. A widely distributed freshwater diving bird, their "order" is unique. Only 16 species. Smaller than ducks, we see them diving for fish dinner most mornings and evenings here at the lake. Pied-billed grebes are the most common species at Lake Sawyer with a few bigger American grebes flying through during periods of migration. Following is a picture of these cute little Pied-billed grebes. Their beak provides a clear identifier. Grebe feathers are waterproof and you often see beads of water on their back after a dive. Very... Continue reading
Posted Oct 29, 2017 at Black Diamond NOW
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Fall is my favorite time of year. Leaves that were once green now turn vibrant shades of red, orange and yellow, eventually falling from the trees and creating a wonderful new carpet for our yards. But why do leaves turn color? Is it because of cold weather? No, not really. It's all about sunlight. Plants have a sugary diet and produce glucose to feed on. Glucose provides the energy required for plant respiration. Sunlight speeds up the process. To capture sunlight, leaves are covered with chlorophyll which preferentially absorbs red and blue, leaving green the dominant color that remains. As... Continue reading
Posted Oct 27, 2017 at Black Diamond NOW
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It's that time of year to do a little maintenance on your rain garden. Or if you don't have one yet, have I got the perfect weekend project for you. Living around Lake Sawyer, the soils here are perfect - highly permeable. It's all gravel. The return on our investment is also great. We are able to completely eliminate runoff into the lake from our driveways and roof drains and do our part to keep the lake clean. We put in our rain garden about 5 years ago and maintenance has proven to be simple and easy. Here's a view... Continue reading
Posted Oct 25, 2017 at Black Diamond NOW
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Henry Ford took the world by storm with his introduction of the Model T automobile first introduced in1903. Simple, affordable to many and powered by gasoline - and importantly they worked. Trucks and tractors, however, remained big, heavy and expensive, designed more for the big farms of the Midwest. Steam tractors were the norm. After several early experiments, it would not be until 1918 following the end of WWI, that Henry Ford introduced what would be known as Fordson tractors, mass produced and manufactured by Henry Ford & Son Inc. - ergo Fordson for short. Eager for alternatives to the... Continue reading
Posted Oct 24, 2017 at Black Diamond NOW
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There's long been something very special about coffee in the northwest. We drink it. The caffeine it contains helps keep us alert, gives us a little jolt to our day. Perhaps it's the long winter days and cloudy rainy weather we have much of the year. A little stimulant makes us feel good. It should be no surprise that coffee consumption per capita in Washington State is among the highest in the country, with Seattle winning the prize as the most caffeinated city. Having a picnic? Gotta have coffee to celebrate as seen in the following photo of a picnic... Continue reading
Posted Oct 23, 2017 at Black Diamond NOW
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While searching the history of coffee in the northwest, I ran across Crescent Manufacturing Company first established in Seattle in 1883. Quite the innovative and enterprising business specializing in baking powder,imitation extracts, flavorings, milled spices, coffee and nuts. Consider how exotic these items were in the early days. None of these items were grown here. Raw materials all must be shipped in and processed before anything could be sold and delivered to an array of general stores spread around the Puget Sound region. Photo courtesy Museum of History & Industry, 2005.24.38, circa 1900 At least their products weren't big and... Continue reading
Posted Oct 20, 2017 at Black Diamond NOW
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Early in the 1900's, Lake Meridian (formerly known as Cow Lake) was home to two lumber mill operations, known as Brighter's Sawmill and the Allen Shingle Mill. A 1902 photo from the White River Valley Museum describes conditions of the lake during this period. Lots of salmon. However, this didn't last long once owners of Brighter's dammed the lake outlet that then flowed into Soos Creek. Apparently some "land locked" salmon did remain in the lake for a period but like many lakes in the area, these too were short lived. Recently, I ran across a photo of the shingle... Continue reading
Posted Oct 19, 2017 at Black Diamond NOW