July 2012 - Washington State Overflights

Jul 9, 2012

Captain's Log 1XE, Day 10 in the month of June in the Earth Calendar Year of 2012. As our planet ostensibly hurtles closer to the sun and the theory of global weirding becomes a reality we bump along trying to do good and fight evil. The bumps have been extreme this spring, and the weather has been warm and wild. That translates to record-breaking heat, drought conditions and at best, uncomfortable-flying conditions.

In Colorado we are experiencing a record-breaking spring after a record-breaking winter after last year's record-breaking record. Last year floods from our spring runoff threatened our communities, and rivers were too high and too dangerous for some annual activities such as the Yampa River Tubing event. This year there is no tubing as the water is too low and too dangerous.

So, duty calls in the cooler greener climes of the Pacific Northwest. But first we had to escape the burning central Rockies: we bypassed landing at lovely Wendover, Utah (winds 60 mph) and finally had to put the plane down at lovely Elko, Nevada before continuing at 120 knots (usual cruise speed 160) to truly lovely Cle Elum, Washington.

We are at this challenging little airstrip surrounded by tall old-growth conifer trees at the base of Snoqualmie Pass (did I mention the gale force wind funneling down the narrow valley) to attend the annual Western Governors' Association meeting (WGA). WGA hosts this annual event to encourage the governors of the western US and Premiers of Canada to brainstorm about current and future issues ranging from water and climate to alternative and traditional energy sources.

This year EcoFlight worked with WGA, The Wilderness Society, Conservation Northwest and the Yakima Basin Conservation Campaign. We flew the Yakima watershed where a proposed water resource management plan would protect over 200,000 acres of land and about 200 miles of river. We also conducted overflights of the I-90 Snoqualmie Pass East Project, whose design includes key animal - travel areas. Interstate 90 cuts across several north-south wildlife corridors, and over - and underpasses will reduce tragic collisions between animals and motorists and provide safe routes for bears, elk and other animals.

With Mount Rainier looming in the distance, EcoFlight and the Governors' staff flew over this landscape of epic proportions and glaciated peaks as we highlighted the progress being made on the wildlife crossings.

We are now back in the sunbelt of Colorado looking north at the green on the radar, not only remembering the important and beautiful flights over this wondrous country but wishing we could get some of that wet stuff falling from the sky to relieve the heat and fire danger in Colorado.



Bruce Gordon