March Book Club Selection

The Natural History Society Book Club will meet at 3:30 – 5:00 pm on Monday, March 23, to discuss Rachel Carson’s books about the sea. Choose from The Sea Around Us, Under the Sea Wind, or The Edge of the Sea. Feel free to read any (or all!) of these books, then come and share your impressions, reactions, ideas, and questions with other book club members.

Rachel Carson (1907-1964) spent most of her professional life as a marine biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. By the late 1950s, she had written three lyrical, popular books about the sea, including the best-selling The Sea Around Us, and had become one of the most respected science writers in America.

Sea around usThe Sea Around Us. 

This classic work remains as fresh today as when it first appeared. Carson’s writing teems with stunning, memorable images–the newly formed Earth cooling beneath an endlessly overcast sky; the centuries of nonstop rain that created the oceans; giant squids battling sperm whales hundreds of fathoms below the surface; and incredibly powerful tides moving 100 billion tons of water daily in the Bay of Fundy. Quite simply, she captures the mystery and allure of the ocean with a compelling blend of imagination and expertise.

Under the sea windUnder the Sea Wind

In her first book, Rachel Carson tells the story of the sea creatures and birds that dwell in and around the waters along North America’s eastern coast—and the delicately balanced ecosystem that sustains them. Following the life cycles of a pair of sanderlings, a mackerel, and an eel, Carson gracefully weaves scientific observation with imaginative prose to educate and inspire, creating one of the finest wildlife narratives in American literature.

Edge of the SeaThe Edge of the Sea

“The edge of the sea is a strange and beautiful place.” A book to be read for pleasure as well as a practical identification guide, The Edge of the Sea introduces a world of teeming life where the sea meets the land. A new generation of readers is discovering why Rachel Carson’s books have become cornerstones of the environmental and conservation movements.

Contact Pat at for location and directions.

Focus on Lichens

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMost of us don’t pay much attention to lichens when we walk in our beautiful northwest forests and parks.

These ancient and successful organisms, which are not plants, are composites of fungi and algae. Extremely varied, they can resemble dust, or rags or even hair.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAJoin the Natural History Society at 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm on Friday, February 27, for a closer look at these fascinating organisms.

We’ll begin with a walk in the park to pick up fallen specimens, then we’ll go to the microscopes to study our findings in detail. You’ll never look at lichens the same way again!

To reserve your place and get directions, contact Pat at


Experiencing Birds 101

323Join the Natural History Society on Monday, February 9, for an outing led by local bird expert Ken Wilson.  Learn a variety of techniques to enhance your observation and
enjoyment of birds —  their identification, and also their behaviors and ecology.


Birding at Anderson LakeWe’ll start at Kah Tai Lagoon and then head on to Fort Worden State Park.

Meet at Kah Tai Lagoon Nature Park, at the parking lot directly across the street from Henery  Hardware.

Bring binoculars, cameras and field guides. We are fortunate that Ken Wilson, educator, speaker, expedition leader and bird watcher extraordinaire, will lead this walk. Ken is known for his wide knowledge of birds, great stories, and supportive guidance for birders of all levels.

Please pre-register with Ken Wilson by email:




Butterflies of the Rain Forest and Rain Shadow

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACalling all butterfly lovers! The JLT Natural History is pleased to kick off its 2015 season of evening programs on Monday, January 12 with a dazzling presentation by the award-winning Washington writer and naturalist, Robert Michael Pyle. His topic, “Butterflies of the Rain Forest and Rain Shadow” will be lushly illustrated with photos and lore amassed over his decades of studying butterflies and aiding in their conservation around the world.

Butterflies live at the pleasure of the weather and the climate, so how particular species adapt to temperature and rainfall, and interact with their companion plants, influences which varieties people are likely to encounter on outings, Pyle notes. Bob will introduce the audience to many of the butterfly characters that that grace our region, both those adapted to the wet western greenwood—including beauties inhabiting areas around Jefferson County—and species that thrive east of the Cascades, where the rainfall drops off.  He’ll also discuss how the changing climate is already altering the diversity and numbers of Northwest butterflies.

RMP at Sta BarbaraHighly acclaimed as the author of the definitive guides, Butterflies of Cascadia and the Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Butterflies, Pyle has published sixteen other nonfiction books, as well as hundreds of articles, essays, stories, poems, and scientific papers. His rich academic background in natural history, ecology, and conservation have supported his leadership in a host of conservation projects and organizations. In 1971, he founded the international Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation and later chaired its Monarch Butterfly Project. He also served as founding chairman of the specialist group within the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) that focuses on Lepidoptera, the scientific order encompassing moths and butterflies. Closer to his home base in Gray’s River, Washington, Pyle work as Northwest Land Steward for The Nature Conservancy. For his expert work on butterfly ecology and conservation Pyle has earned numerous prestigious awards.

Wearing his other career cap, Pyle has lectured and taught environmental and place-based writing and field courses worldwide. In recent years he has served as a visiting professor at Utah State University and the University of Montana, and in the 1990s he was on the faculty of nature writers that criss-crossed the U.S. on “The Forgotten Language Tours”, sponsored by Orion, the literary nature magazine.

This JLT Natural History Society event will take place at 7 pm, at the Port Townsend Cotton Building on Water Street. The presentation is free and open to the public. A $5 donation will help pay the costs for this and future programs.


February Book Club Selection

Big burn

The Natural History Society Book Club will meet on Monday, February 23, 3:30 to 5:00 pm to discuss The Big Burn, by Timothy Egan.

On the afternoon of August 20, 1910, a battering ram of wind moved through the drought-stricken national forests of Washington, Idaho, and Montana, whipping the hundreds of small blazes burning across the forest floor into a roaring inferno. Forest rangers had assembled nearly ten thousand men—college boys, day workers, immigrants from mining camps—to fight the fire. But no living person had seen anything like those flames, and neither the rangers nor anyone else knew how to subdue them.

Egan narrates the struggles of the overmatched rangers against the implacable fire with unstoppable dramatic force. Equally dramatic is the larger story he tells of outsized president Teddy Roosevelt and his chief forester, Gifford Pinchot. Pioneering the notion of conservation, Roosevelt and Pinchot did nothing less than create the idea of public land as our national treasure, owned by and preserved for every citizen.

For location and directions, contact Chris: