Environmental Learning Center on Diablo Lake (closed caption)

Environmental Learning Center on Diablo Lake (closed caption)

January 2, 2020 0 By Kody Olson


The North Cascades Institutes environmental
learning center is on the banks of Diablo Lake and they’re dedicated to teaching both
children and adults about the ecology of the Cascade mountains. Seattle City Light as part
of its commitment to maintain this high altitude water resource helped to build this environmental
laboratory. North Cascades National Park is one of the
largest wilderness areas in the Lower 48. Wolves,
grizzlies and 25% of the nation’s glaciers lie within this rugged park’s boundaries. “This is one of the gems of the National Park
System.” It is also one of the most unique partnerships
anywhere. Long before it became a national park,
Seattle City Light built a hydroelectric system in the middle of this wilderness. Then in
1968, the North Cascades National Park was formed…
and then just a few years ago, the North Cascades Institute built an environmental learning
center here. “There’s this really interesting juxtaposition
between some of the most wild lands in the United
States and meeting the demands of modern society in Seattle.” By that, he means City Light’s Skagit Hydroelectric
Project, which provides about 17% of Seattle’s energy needs. “In the middle of it is this industrial complex
that generates kilowatts that flow to Seattle.” Environmental stewardship is paramount to
City Light, and that’s why the national park and the
North Cascades Institute’s Learning Center are not competing interests with the utility-
but rather partners. Seattle City Light Superintendent Jorge Carrasco: Carrasco – 15:49
“This project and I think that the work that all three organizations are involved with
is a symbol of how you can complement the important role
that the environment plays as well as the important
value that our community gets from the facilities that we operate up here in this area.” Saul Weisberg is the Executive Director of
the North Cascades Institute: “As far as I know, there’s no other partnership
like that in the country that’s designed to do
education…” The North Cascades Institute’s Learning Center
was holding a celebration… ( applause) – the facility just earned Silver LEED certification.
That stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. This facility truly
earned it. From the roofs of the buildings that are the
same color of the gneiss granite found in the
surrounding mountains to the wood floors recycled from old schools to the actual footprint of
the Learning Center. In fact, from the water,
it’s hard to tell this facility is even here. 21:53
“What was here on this site were a bunch of abandoned old structures that had been moved
here but had been used as construction quarters for when they were building Ross Dam.” Asphalt roads were removed and, where they
could, they even built in the same location as the
cabins so as to disturb the land even less. The restaurant from an old lodge here was
also recycled, remodeling it instead of building new. Thousands of tons of construction debris
were reclaimed. gutter systems were built to reclaim water and the materials used to
build the center were sustainable. A lot of forest council certified wood in
the exteriors.. cedar siding right here a lot of it came from Canada first nations sustainable
logging operation. A lot of the cement has a lot of fly ash in it which is a bulking
agent “Park Service staff grew over 22,000 plants
in our greenhouse….worked with North Cascades instate staff and volunteers and replanted
these native indigenous plants around on the site and they are now growing up effectively
creating the impression this is sited in an area that was
relatively undisturbed.” “I think for us LEED certification is recognition
that we’re trying to do the right thing and the partnership with the city and the park
we were all committed to doing this from the beginning. We didn’t need to do it, the decision
was this is the right way to go when we’re building in a national
park.” “We have this LEED-certified place… that
is a focal point for bringing kids, families, people to come and be connected to the Cascades,
to come and be connected to their national park, come and
be connected to their public lands but also serves as place for generating a significant
portion of Seattle’s power.” — Sound up of the students taking the canoe
class — And the learning opportunities abound in the
North Cascades now. Before the Environmental Learning Center was built, teaching kids and
families about the environment was limited by
weather and seasons. People can now stay in this beautiful facility year-round vs. trying
to deal with fickle weather conditions in a campground. “Particularly when you’re here in the mountains,
and if you start to move through the school year…. when you’re moving into November
or you’re trying to do things in February or March,
weather can start to take away from the opportunity to learn.” SaulWeisberg of the North Cascades Institute
and Chip Jenkins from the national park have one
thing to say to Seattleites: Come visit! “…we have this incredible facility with
great food, great lodging, access to trails. And what we do
here in the spring and the fall is have school programs… we have really extensive programs
for families, for adults and teachers… and using
this a s a doorway to walk into the wild lands of the park we have programs in the summer
that takes kids from Seattle and High School kids from all over the country out on Ross
Lake for two weeks of camping and canoes or a one month study of climate change and glaciers
a great doorway into what’s really in our backyard.” So there you have it, a great vacation stop
this summer. And speaking of summer, why not visit the Skagit Hydroelectric Project. Its
less than 3 hours from Seattle and you have all these recreational opportunities. For
more information go to Skagit Tours dot com Thank you for catching up[ for al;l the news
from Seattle City Light. I’m Kelly Guenther, have yourself a great summer.