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A Green Treasure

In a Vital Landscape Teeming with Life, Moss Hangs from Branches, Ferns Grow Thick as Weeds, and Trees Compete for the Light that Breaks through a Green Canopy. Olympic National Park, Washington.Traveling along the 18-mile road that brings one to the Hoh Rainforest in Olympic National Park offers scenes much like the one above. Green spectacles teeming with life and seemingly inviolable.

But the forest is not all protected. The spot where I created the photo, to the right, lies outside the perimeter of the national park. And not very far from this location, a wide swath of Red Alders had been cleared, the trees stacked and waiting, presumably, for transport and processing. Of all my trips into the rainforest, it is the first time I’d ever seen logging on this stretch of road just outside the boundaries of Olympic National Park. And considering the beauty and fecundity of the Hoh, it is most disturbing to see such devastation.

Another dose of reality awaited me up the road. A towering Sitka Spruce that I have stopped to admire numerous times driving in and out of the park had fallen to winter storms. If you’ve never seen one, Sitka Spruce are majestic trees, growing tall and wide. Just a few days earlier, I had stopped to see, for the first time, the Sitka Spruce along the Queets River further south in the Quinault Rainforest. Reputed to be the largest Sitka Spruce in the world, it stands nearly 250 feet tall and boasts a circumference of over 650 feet, a diameter of nearly 15 feet. (See both Wikipedia on Sitka Spruce and American Forests.) It’s enormous and breathtaking. One nearly topples over backward looking up to see its crown. The Spruce in the Hoh was not as large as the “Queets Spruce,” but it had appeared indestructible, ready to stand for hundreds of additional years.

All of which leads me to value the Hoh Rainforest and its near incomprehensible diversity all the more. As Joni Mitchell taught us:

“Don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you’ve got
‘Til it’s gone.”

To see more photos created in the Hoh Rainforest—as well as others created during my trip to Olympic National Park—visit our Pacific Northwest gallery.Enjoy.