Winter’s encore appearance this spring gave what, back at the start of April, had looked like a dismal mountain snowpack the chance to play a little catchup. As we assess to what degree that springtime snowfall has improved the regional drought outlook, I’m also watching the ebbing snowpatches of foothill gullies and escarpment breaks from here in the Grande Ronde Valley. And I’m getting into gear for another field season hunting the more resilient snowfields of the nearby high country.

This is part of a project I’ve kicked off called the Wallowa-Blue Mountain Snowfield Project. (OK, it could be catchier — let’s call it a working name.) Thus far my fieldwork’s been mainly focused on the Wallowa Mountains, but I do intend to expand into the high ranges of the Blues down the line.

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Ethan Shaw is an independent naturalist and freelance outdoors/natural-history writer based in Cove. He has a degree in Wildlife Ecology/Natural Resources and has been freelancing on both the research and writing fronts since 2009 (after a stint at The Observer).

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