Volunteer Opportunity: Western Grey Squirrel Survey - Columbia Land Trust
Help protect threatened Western Grey Squirrels by joining our volunteer squirrel nest survey.


What: Western Grey Squirrel Surveys

When (NEW DATES): April 11, 12, 13, 14 – Thursday through Sunday

Where: Bowman Creek Area, Klickitat County, Washington

What you need to know: Identification of four tree species (oak, pine, fir, other).

Contact to register: Mary Bushman Oaks@Columbialandtrust.org

Columbia Land Trust’s Squirrel Scouting Surveys in the Klickitat Volunteer Event is just around the corner. All of the fine details are featured below. Please get in touch if you have any questions.

Timing: Participants can join for one or multiple days. Please be prepared to kick off each morning by 10:00 a.m. by planning to arrive 15 minutes early. Participants are welcome to leave at any time.

What to Expect: Each morning will begin with an introduction to Columbia Land Trust, the Bowman Creek property, our squirrel nest survey methods, and each other, led by Columbia Land Trust Natural staff member Mary Bushman. We’ll then split up into teams of two or three to survey different sections of the 337-acre property. Teams will be using binoculars to look for two different types of Western Grey Squirrel nests in the oak and pine canopy and will collect data about each nest they observe using the Land Trust’s iPads and smartphones. As we go, we’ll mark trees that hold nests with spray paint and id tags. We’ll work until 3:30 and then gather ourselves to wrap things up for the day. Each of the four field days will be identical in format, with the only difference being that we’ll have new ground to cover and new faces. We’re expecting to have about ten volunteers join us each day. We do not have a campout component to this event this year.

Safety Considerations: Be prepared for the weather to be cold with the possibility of rain.  Participants should feel comfortable using hammers and nails to affix id tags and spray paint to mark trees. We’ll be hiking and navigating in groups through open forest terrain. Although unlikely, participants may encounter ticks.

Age Considerations: This activity is great for kids who are comfortable in cold weather for an extended period of time. Participants under 12 require adult supervision. Attendees under the age of 18 will be required to have a liability waiver signed by a parent or guardian.

What to Bring:  Bring binoculars if you have them. We’ll also have a few pairs to loan out. Wear weather-appropriate clothing, especially warm clothes, and waterproof footwear. Expect the morning to be very cold! Note that we’ll be using spray paint to tag trees and that this paint does not wash out of clothing. Bring lunch, snacks, and a water bottle.  Columbia Land Trust will supply tools, supplies, and extra water. Please, no dogs.

Directions to Bowman Creek: From Washington SR-14, turn North onto SR-142 and follow the Klickitat River toward Goldendale. Soon after SR-142 ascends to the Columbia Plateau (approaching Goldendale), watch for a left turn onto the Glenwood Highway. Turn left onto the Glenwood Hwy and follow for about ¾ mile to Zelinski Road. Turn left onto Zelinski Road and follow for ½ mile. The property is on the left behind a green gate. A Columbia Land Trust sign will help point the way. Park in the gravel parking area.  Plan for at least a 2-hour drive from Portland, an hour+ drive from Hood River. Google Map for reference.

Carpooling: Please let me know if you’re interested in leading or joining a carpool.

Cell Service: There is cell service (although it may be spotty depending on your carrier), and we will collect your cell number at the start of the day for emergency purposes and to communicate with you throughout the event, should we be separated by longer distances. (Note: You will always be with a team leader familiar with the site and you will be provided a map of the property. The entire perimeter is fenced, so you can’t get TOO lost). Please take down this cell phone number in case you need to reach the Land Trust en route: Mary Bushman, 503-860-9689.

About Bowman Creek: Bowman Creek is the type of wild place only found in the East Cascades. Columbia Land Trust purchased this 337-acre Klickitat County property for conservation purposes in 2009. Its rugged canyon, open meadows, old oaks, and mature conifers offer prime wildlife habitat. Among its most unique features, the forest supports one of the largest documented concentrations of western gray squirrel nests in Klickitat County. The squirrels share the forest with Lewis’s woodpeckers, migratory songbirds, and raptors. Black-tailed deer forage onsite in the winter, while threatened steelhead salmon swim in the cold, clean water that Bowman Creek feeds downstream into Canyon Creek. All this occurs in a space that could’ve been subdivided 67 times into five-acre lots.

Contact: If you have any questions in advance of the event, contact Mary Bushman, Columbia Land Trust Western Grey Squirrel Survey Coordinator at oaks@columbialandtrust.org or 503-860-9689.