Optional Excursion to the Columbia River Gorge

Saturday, October 20, 2012
1:00 pm  – 5:30  pm

This is the Pacific Northwest in the fall. Bring your rain gear!

The Columbia River Gorge
The Gorge is a spectacular river canyon 85 miles long and up to 4,000 feet deep. Carved by volcanic eruptions and Ice Age floods over millions of years, the Gorge is the only sea-level route through the Cascade Mountains to the Pacific Ocean. The cataclysmic floods also transformed flowing river tributaries into hanging waterfalls, creating the largest concentration of waterfalls in North America. The Gorge forms the boundary between the state of Washington to the north and Oregon to the south, with its western edge within a 30-minute drive of Portland. In addition, the Gorge is host to a unique diversity of plant and animal life, including over 800 species of wildflowers, 15 of which exist nowhere else on earth.

WildflowersThis wild and beautiful place has also served as a human corridor for tens of thousands of years, and was explored by Lewis and Clark and traversed by thousands of Oregon Trail pioneers. Today’s visitors and inhabitants revel in the recreation opportunities that abound in the Gorge. Known as the windsurfing capital of the world, the Gorge is also great for hiking, biking, sailing, fishing and boating.

National Scenic Act
On November 17, 1986, President Ronald Reagan signed into law the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Act, the only stand-alone environmental legislation passed during Reagan’s eight-year presidency. With passage of the Act, the Gorge became the first landscape to be specifically designated as a National Scenic Area by Congress. A year after the Scenic Area Act was passed, the states of Oregon and Washington adopted the Columbia River Gorge Compact, an interstate law that created the Columbia River Gorge Commission. With passage of the Act and Compact, the federal government and the states of Oregon and Washington entered into a binding agreement that recognized the Columbia River Gorge as a place apart from all others and committed them to protecting its outstanding resources for generations to come.

Tentative Itinerary
This optional trip after the conference will allow for exploration of the natural features of the Columbia River Gorge, an area that is renown for its spectacular array of natural wonders including wildflowers, old-growth temperate rain forests, waterfalls, salmon, lava cliffs, and rock formations. The close proximity to Portland will allow for a relaxed itinerary with frequent stops, short hikes, and commentary from Reed faculty who are familiar with the biology, geology, and history of the region. The tour will also include a stop at the visitor’s center at Bonneville Dam:

Leave the Governor Hotel in two 14-person Reed College vans at 1:00 pm
(About 20 minutes at each stop)
Woman’s Forum – view of the full gorge and a short lesson on geology
Latourell Falls – short hike and botany lesson
Multonomah Falls –  tallest waterfall in the Gorge
Horsetail Falls – short hike and botany lesson
Eagle Creek –  salmon viewing?
Bonneville dam –  exhibits, hatcheries, & underwater viewing
Return to the Governor Hotel approximately 5:30 pm.

The Guides
Professor David DaltonProfessor David Dalton has been on the biology faculty at Reed College since 1987 and currently serves as Chair of the department. He teaches Introductory Biology, Plant Physiology, and diverse seminar courses such as Forest Canopy Biology, Climate Change Biology, and Plant Biotechnology. He has offered several MALS courses on topics as wide-ranging as Pacific Northwest Forests and The Biological Legacy of Lewis and Clark. His research interests include biological nitrogen fixation and the role of antioxidants such as vitamin C in plant health. He also has research projects involving the production of plants with elevated stress tolerance and poplar trees that produce a biodegradable, sustainable plastic in their leaves. He is passionate about the flora and other natural wonders of the Pacific Northwest and enjoys getting out with groups to share his knowledge.

Professor Keith KarolyProfessor Keith Karoly began botanizing in the Columbia River Gorge on a biology field trip while an undergraduate at Whitman College. After completing his doctorate in evolutionary biology at the University of Chicago and a post-doc at SUNY Stony Brook, Keith joined the biology department at Reed in 1994, where he is currently a professor. Keith and his students study the evolutionary diversification of flowering plants, with data collection that includes field, greenhouse and molecular laboratory studies. A major focus for his current research is a group of larkspur species (the genus Delphinium) that have diversified in western Oregon and Washington since the end of the last Ice Age.

Registration Details
Registrations will be accepted on a first-come-first-served basis and are limited to 25 participants. To register for the excursion, please mail a note of intent and $20 check made out to Reed College to:

Barbara Amen
Director, MALS
Reed College
3203 SE Woodstock Blvd.
Portland, OR  97202

There also will be an opportunity to register and pay during the conference, depending upon space availability.

This is the Pacific Northwest in the fall. Bring your rain gear!