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Please note:  Items with [PDF]
will require Adobe  Reader to view them.  If you do not have the program, you may download it from Adobe.

Prior presentation information
(topics that have either a link to a web site or where a copy of the  presentation has been made available)




Chapter Meetings
General Meeting Information


    (Please note location(s) of each meeting.  Directions to each location .)

         January 8, 2014  (Tacoma)   7PM
Clay Antieau: Know Your Grasses

Grasses are critical to many fields of science and practice, including wetland identification and delineation, ecosystem restoration, erosion control, and interpretation of natural history.  Beautiful and diverse, grasses are globally important in many ways—fundamental to the past and future survival of humans.  In this presentation, Clay explores the grass language and distinguishing characteristics of the grass family.  Featuring invasive grasses, rare grasses, and ornamental grasses, Clay will describe the remarkable adaptiveness of grasses as well as their habitat affinities, restoration roles, and associated conservation challenges.

Clay Antieau M.S., Ph.C. is a horticulturist, botanist, and environmental scientist who enthusiastically combines these disciplines to offer unique abilities and perspectives in environmental education and science communication.  He currently works for the City of Seattle as an environmental permit specialist.  Clay’s a recognized local authority and educator in Northwest flora and has taught courses in plant identification, wetland science, restoration science, and related subjects at the University of Washington and numerous technical and community colleges around Washington. He’s been teaching grass identification for more than 20 years.

January 13, 2014  (Olympia)  7PM
Joe Arnett: Rare Plants - Endemics, Disjuncts, and Peripheral Species

Why is this plant growing here? Is it a native? How did it get here? Are there more of these plants nearby? What are our conservation priorities for this plant? These are the kinds of questions often facing Joe Arnett, rare plant botanist for the Washington Natural Heritage Program. Joe will discuss selection of the plant species regarded to be conservation priorities in Washington, considering the different ways that they are distributed on the landscape. Aspects of distribution include evaluation of risk, genetics, and dispersal mechanisms.

Joe Arnett has been the rare plant botanist for the Washington Natural Heritage Program since 2005 and has formally studied the plants of Washington since 1982. He is an at-large member of the State Board of the Washington Native Plant Society.

Presentation [PDF - 6.69 MB]

February 10, 2014  (Olympia)  7PM
Matt Vander Haegen: Ecological Integrity Monitoring (EIM) of WDFW Wildlife Areas

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) manages close to 1 million acres of land ranging from coastal marshes to arid sagebrush-steppe.  Join WDFW biologists Matt Vander Haegen and John Pierce as they describe a new and innovative project aimed at monitoring the ecological integrity of these lands into an uncertain future. The Ecological Integrity Monitoring (EIM) Project is using a multitude of data sources at various scales, from satellite imagery in computer applications to citizen science volunteers collecting field data with GPS and smart phones, to track our valuable resources.  Scatter Creek Wildlife Area near Littlerock is one of our pilot areas for the project where volunteers are monitoring our rare oak-woodland and prairie communities.  The presentation will outline the goals of the project, introduce you to the methods used by staff and citizen scientists in collecting data in the field, and share the project’s vision for incorporating citizen science as a key element of the overall project. You’ll also learn how you can put your botany skills to work while enjoying time in the field by joining the citizen science volunteers, students, and mentors who participate in the project.

Matt Vander Haegen is a senior research scientist with WDFW and a member of the graduate faculty at the University of Washington.  His research focuses on the effects of human land use on wildlife populations and habitat and has included such diverse species as shrubsteppe birds, western gray squirrels (our largest native tree squirrel!) and western pond turtles.  John Pierce is Chief Scientist for WDFW’s Wildlife Program and directs the Program’s efforts at managing abundance and distribution data of wildlife species, researching ecological relationships and limiting factors of priority wildlife species, monitoring wildlife health, and analysis of spatial data.

Presentation link

February 12, 2014  (Tacoma)  7PM
Donovan Tracy: Photographing the Wildflowers of Mount Rainier National Park

Virtually in our backyard, Mount Rainier National Park has long been considered one of the best places on earth to view and photograph wildflowers.  Photographer Donovan Tracy has developed his skills through hundreds of days in the field and will share what he’s learned photographing at Mt. Rainier Park. Techniques covered in his presentation are suited both for novice photographers to serious amateur photographers who desire to more thoroughly study and photograph plants in their natural environment. Some of the topics covered will be light and exposure, composition, considerations for a plant study, and close-up photography. Donovan will also review one of the wildflower hikes that he has featured on his web site.

Donovan is the co-author with David Giblin, collection manager of the UW Herbarium, of the Burke Museum’s “Alpine Flowers of Mt. Rainier”, a field guide first published in 2011. His web site, www.flowersofrainier, includes photographs and descriptions of 235 species of flowering plants within Mount Rainier National Park.

March 10, 2014  (Olympia)  7PM
Sarah Hamman: Burning for Butterflies: Using fire as a restoration tool for rare species habitat

For two decades, a growing collaborative effort has been aimed at restoring rare prairie habitat in the Puget Lowlands. A large part of this effort has involved restoring one of the most important native processes to this landscape: fire. The South Sound prescribed fire program has steadily expanded over the years, both in capacity and in knowledge about this restoration tool. In this talk, Sarah Hamman will discuss the evolution of the fire program and how it's being used today to strategically restore habitat for a wide suite of prairie species, including fire sensitive butterflies.

Sarah Hamman is the Restoration Ecologist for the Center for Natural Lands Management, a conservation non-profit based out of Washington and California. Her work is aimed at restoring rare species habitat in PNW prairies using rigorous science and careful conservation planning. Sarah holds a B.A. in Biology from Wittenberg University and a Ph.D. in Ecology from Colorado State University. Most of her training and experience has been in ecosystem ecology, with a focus on fire effects on forest and grassland soils. She has also studied climate change impacts on Minnesota tallgrass prairies, wolf behavior and demographics in Yellowstone, fire effects on invasive species in Sequoia National Park, and restoration techniques for endangered species in central Florida rangelands. Sarah is also an adjunct professor at The Evergreen State College, where she teaches Fire Science and Society and Restoration Ecology for the MES program.

March 12, 2014  (Tacoma)  7PM
Susan McDougall: Trees Live Here – Visiting America’s Arboretums

Based upon her visits to 33 of the country’s arboretums, Susan McDougall  will present a photographic and textual exploration of these special “places for trees.” Besides introducing a selection of these arboretums, her talk will give special emphasis to the work being done by modern arboretums to present their native trees and other plants in ecosystem settings.

Susan McDougall’s life-long love of trees and gardens finds expression in her new book, “Trees Live Here.” With a background in mathematics and geophysics, she worked as a software engineer before retiring to pursue interests in writing and photography. She has written two books on Pacific northwest natural history and co-authored the first complete flora of Mount Adams. Her photographs have been published in several books and are often used for non-profit educational purposes.  Her book will be on sale at the meeting.

Click here to see see some of Susan's arboretum pictures.

April 9, 2014  (Tacoma)  7PM
Elysia Mbuja: Pierce College Oak Woodland Restoration: Learning, teaching, and partnerships

In an effort to restore a Garry oak woodland ecosystem near Pierce College and Fort Steilacoom Park, educators and multigenerational students have become involved in environmental stewardship.  Elysia Mbuja, Assistant Professor at Pierce College, will discuss how the restoration project began 5 years ago, the progression of the project, how strategies have changed, and about the challenges that are yet to be solved.  The logistics of partnering with an elementary school will also be discussed.

Professor Mbuja received a Bachelor of Science in biology (1999) and a Master in Education in Curriculum & Instruction from Arizona State University(2000).  She taught high school biology and chemistry in Kenya for the US Peace Corps (2000-2002).  Upon returning from Kenya, Elysia started teaching biology at Pierce College (2004) and earned a Master in Biology from University of Nebraska Kearney (2009).  Elysia has been involved in the Garry oak ecosystem restoration project on the Pierce College campus since its inception and is currently the volunteer coordinator and a member of the site planning and approval committee.  

April 14, 2014  (Olympia)  7PM
Steve Herman: Shrubsteppe, The Richest Of Our Paupers

Shrubsteppe is a community that once carpeted a majority of the surface of what came to be the state of Washington.  So rich in life that it would make a mature redwood forest look like the inside of a burial crypt, it is now reduced to an impoverishment of its former distribution. First described and most studied by our state’s preeminent plant ecologist, Rexford Daubenmire, remnants of it still exist. Little known and widely abused, shrubsteppe needs a makeover in terms of what is known of its botanical and zoological value; it deserves much more respect than it currently enjoys.

Dr. Steven Herman fell in love with this landscape, after hearing a lecture by Professor Daubenmire in 1974 and soon thereafter bought 80 acres of it in Southeastern Oregon were he installed the infrastructure for a field station.  Now protected from sundry insults for 30 years, it stands out clearly, healthy in a sea of the infirm, on a Google map search.

As a professor at Evergreen, Steve taught “The Natural History and Conservation of Shrubsteppe,” taking students into the field to study shrubsteppe for weeks at a time. Now a professor Emeritus at Evergreen, he continues to teach summer courses at the college.  In this presentation he will tell stories related to his  shrubsteppe experiences. But perhaps his highest goal will be to convince you (in part through his beautiful photographs) that this is a landscape of great beauty and natural history interest, worthy of your attention and that of land managers across the American West, - a landscape of elegance and poetic beauty.

Dr. Herman is Professor Emeritus (Biology), at The Evergreen State College as well as Founder and Emeritus Curator of Evergreen’s  Museum of Natural History. He has authored or co-authored nearly 40 papers.   Recognized as Environmental Scientist of the Year in 1984 by the Washington    Environmental Council and Conservationist of the Year in 1995 by the Seattle Audubon, he has  served as Board member for  many environmental organizations.  He is currently working on manuscripts regarding Upland Sandpipers in Oregon, densities of shrubsteppe birds in southeastern Oregon,  and spring-migrating shorebird use of Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor. 

May 12, 2014  (Olympia)  7PM
Adam Martin: The Lost Flowers - Historic Changes in Salish prairies

Ecological amnesia occurs when a landscape or ecosystem has become so altered that there is no historic conception of the processes, interactions, or species which once composed these places. The remaining native prairies along the Salish sea likely resemble little the vast prairies which greeted the first European explorers. By the early-1800s these prairies had begun to be rapidly settled by Europeans, and this settlement has continued  constantly until today.  Well before Washington became a state,  indigenous management practices which helped maintain flower-filled prairies were quickly halted with the arrival of new settlers hungry for land.  Intensive grazing and agriculture, as well as new plant species,  began fragmenting and altering prairies. These rapid changes dramatically shifted how the remaining prairies were structured and who dominated them.

This talk will explore how we can use historic records, phylogenies, ecological theory, and what we currently know about these endangered ecosystems to piece together what we may have forgotten. It will also address  how we might change current prairie management  to better restore the historic variability that must have greeted the Europeans who first set eyes on this vast sea  of flowers.

R. Adam Martin received his BA and BS in natural history and ecology from The Evergreen State College. He has worked as a prairie restorationist at the Center for Natural Lands Management since 2011, where he has done extensive work reintroducing Golden paintbrush, looking for horned larks, and monitoring the response of plant and bird communities to restoration.  He also has done extensive work since 2006 on monitoring large mammals along the I-90 corridor using snow tracking and remote cameras, and teaches wildlife tracking in his little free time when he is not birding or photographing plants.

May 14, 2014  (Tacoma)  7PM
Dennis Paulson: Birds and Native Plants

Everyone knows that birds come to feeders full of seeds. There are a lot of seed-eating birds! But birds relate to our native plants in many more ways than that, both positive and negative, and Dennis Paulson will tell you how in an illustrated lecture.

Dennis Paulson, recently retired from being Director of the Slater Museum of Natural History, University of Puget Sound, has been a professional biologist and naturalist all of his adult life. He began studying natural history as a boy and is a world expert on dragonflies and shorebirds. He is the author of nine books, including “Shorebirds of North America” and “Dragonflies and Damselflies of the West”, as well as 90 scientific papers on birds and dragonflies.

Meeting Locations:

Washington State Capitol Museum Coach House
211 21st Avenue SW
Olympia, WA 98501

Directions to the Washington State Capital Museum: From Interstate 5 in Olympia, take Exit 105, following the "State Capital/City Center" route. Go through a tunnel, (get in the left hand lane) and turn left on Capital Way. Follow the brown and white "State Capital Museum" signs to 21st Avenue. Turn right on 21st Avenue and proceed two blocks. The museum is on the left in a stucco mansion.  We meet in the carriage house in back of the mansion.

Tacoma Nature Center
1919 South Tyler Street
Tacoma, WA  98405

Directions to the Tacoma Nature Center: From Interstate 5, take State Highway 16 towards Gig Harbor. Look for the 19th Street EAST, exit and take it, which puts you onto South 19th Street. Travel to the first light, turn right on South Tyler, and then left into the first driveway at the Tacoma Nature Center.

General Meeting Information

South Sound Chapter presentations are held on the
second Monday and Wednesday of the month (October through May, in Olympia and Tacoma, respectively):

  • In Olympia, we typically gather at the Washington State Capitol Museum (211 21st Avenue SW; 360-753-2580).
  • In Tacoma, we typically gather at the Tacoma Nature Center (1919 South Tyler; 253-591-6439).
  • On occasion, however, our presentations are held at alternate facilities to accommodate larger audiences, so please be sure to note where each  meeting is held before you embark.

All meetings are open to the public and most are free of charge. Refreshments are typically provided by WNPS volunteers. We hope you'll join us for an evening of camaraderie and education about the world of native plants as well as the habitats that they create and sustain.

Outside of field trips and holiday gatherings, most meetings start at 7:00 pm. These "meetings" consist of a quick preview of activity announcements, but are mostly grounded in presentations that last 45 minutes to over an hour. Our topics are geared to attract and speak to neophytes and amateurs, as well as "dyed-in-the-wool" or otherwise committed botanists. We may be biased, but we think our presentations are top of the line!  

Members and the public are invited to attend all presentations.  For more information about our programs, please contact the Chapter Chair.

We hope to see all of you at the meetings!!!