Field guide appeals to nature enthusiasts

Quin and Jason Williams use the new field guide with Vashon Nature Center director, Bianca Perla.  - Vashon Nature Center
Quin and Jason Williams use the new field guide with Vashon Nature Center director, Bianca Perla.
— image credit: Vashon Nature Center

The goal of the Vashon Nature Center (VNC), founded in 2011, is to connect islanders and visitors to Vashon with the natural world around them. Now, thanks to one islander’s suggestion and another’s generosity, the organization has published a pocket field guide that will help make this goal a reality.

“It was the missing piece,” said Kathryn True, who heads the Vashon Nature Center with ecologist Bianca Perla.

True says that the idea for the field guide came from Vashon environmentalist Jane Neubauer, who approached VNC after seeing a similar guide in the Methow Valley.

“She thought it would be a good fit for our organization, and Bianca and I agreed,” True said. “We moved forward from there last spring.”

The small, laminated guide that the center recently published identifies more than 130 different species of Vashon plants and wildlife — from skunk cabbage to Pacific tree frogs — and includes a map to the best areas for wildlife viewing on the island.

While the VNC-sponsored BioBlitz, a species survey held for the second time this year, aims to obtain specific numbers for species, True said the new guide is more of a general catalogue of what is where and when it can be seen.

“Trying to find a balance between rare sightings and common ones, we came up with a list from our own experiences. Then we essentially crowd-sourced island experts in various fields for the rest,” True said.

The Vashon land trust, Vashon-Maury Audubon Society, the Forest Conservancy and Vashon Beach Naturalists are among those that contributed to the guide.

Waterford Press is publishing it, and True said that the funding for the project was provided by a lender who prefers to remain anonymous and will be paid back once the guides are sold.

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