Earth Day / Arbor Day in the Arboretum

tree planting

Any day that you can plant a tree that might live to be 300 – 500+ years old is a good day. And when you plant that tree on Earth Day or Arbor Day in the WSU Arboretum and Wildlife Conservation Center, it’s even better. We want to thank the members and friends of Beta … Continue reading

Build It and They Will Come: Beavers in the Arboretum

American Beaver

While driving past the WSU Arboretum today, I noticed a small 2-3 inch diameter aspen (Populus tremuloides) toppled over on the ground on the banks of our small Airport Creek that runs through the arboretum.  In a split second, the thought flashed in my head – you don’t suppose it could be the work of … Continue reading

The First Flutterby (…Butterfly) of the Season

Fritillary butterfly

I saw my first butterfly of the season today on April 9th.  It was orangish, medium size, maybe with some darker spots or patterns of some kind on the wing, moving fast – okay it’s already gone!  What was it? How in the world can I figure out what species of butterfly that might have … Continue reading

How to Save an Endangered Species

I recently had an interesting dialogue with Brian Palmer, who writes for the Green Lantern series for Slate Magazine, an online publication of the The Slate Group, a Division of the Washington Post Company.  Brian contacted me to see how I would answer a question that a reader had posed to him, “Which endangered species … Continue reading

Camas Flowers in the WSU Arboretum

Camas flower

The native camas (Camassia quamash) flower is beginning to emerge in the Arboretum, although it is not yet blooming. However, the leaves from some surplus bulbs that we planted in a garden plot in the arboretum last fall are growing vigorously already and it might not be that long until we see the central flowering … Continue reading

Green Grass, Muskrats, and Geese

Swimming muskrat

While checking on the Arboretum yesterday to see how the spring rains were treating the landscape, I came across a pair of Canada geese (Branta canadensis) grazing on new grass emerging from the seeding of a constructed area we call the Gathering Circle. The geese brought back memories of my relative youth as a budding … Continue reading

Why Endangered?

Idaho Pygmy Rabbit

“Why?” asks one of the most fundamental questions in science, or for that matter, human existence.  Scientists spend a lot of time asking how and why does this or that particular phenomenon, event, or circumstance happen, and not another? “Why?” is always a good question for everyone to keep in their mind whether thinking about … Continue reading

Are Polar Bears Really Endangered?

Polar Bear

The technical answer to this question is no. Polar bears (Ursus maritimus) were declared to be a threatened species by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service in May, 2008. The threatened classification means that the species is vulnerable to becoming endangered in the future. Perhaps the more interesting question is – how many of the … Continue reading

Vertical Farming Part 1: Could WSU Feed the City of Pullman?

Vertical farms

Vertical farming is a brand new concept that originated in about 1909. No, that’s not a typo. So why are we getting excited about it now, over 100 years later? In 1909, the burgeoning growth of the world’s human population and the need for food production didn’t seem quite as pressing as it does today … Continue reading