Sept 2015 book selection

Northwest Coast coverThe JLT Natural History Society book club selection for September 2015 is The Northwest Coast by James G. Swan.  The book club will meet on Monday, September 28, 3:30-5:00, at the Ilahee Preserve shelter.  If you need directions, contact Jean at

James Swan emigrated to Shoalwater Bay (now Willapa Bay) north of the Columbia River in Washington Territory after leaving the gold fields in California.  He enjoyed the company of both white settlers and friendly Indians in the area.  First published in 1857, this book about “Three Years’ Residence in Washington Territory” (the subtitle of the book) is Swan’s account as both an observer and a participant in the white settlers’ invasion of the Indians’ lands. He presents a detailed view of the ecology of the area, as well as the people in the early days of Washington Territory.


August 2015 book selection

goldensprucephotoOn Monday, August 24, 2015 from 3:30-5:00, the JLT Natural History Society Book Club will discuss The Golden Spruce: A True Story of Myth, Madness, and Greed by John Vaillant. We will meet at the Ilahee Preserve shelter.  Contact Jean at to RSVP and for directions, if needed.

This is the tale of logger-turned-activist Grant Hadwin’s act of protest that resulted in the death of a rare golden spruce tree in the woods of Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands).   In addition to the details of this stranger-than-fiction story, the book presents a wealth of information on the logging industry in the Pacific Northwest.

Vaillant’s writing is often compared to that of Jon Krakauer.

Birding the Dungeness

347Join us for a birding field trip to Dungeness on Wednesday, August 26. Naturalist and birder extraordinaire Ken Wilson will lead our trip to Dungeness, an area with a rich diversity of birds,some of which are scarce in the Port Townsend area.

This is a time of fall migration for numerous species of shorebirds. Bring clothing layers to accommodate our unpredictable weather — which might include cold sea breezes, fog, rain, glaring sun, or all of the above. Also bring lunch, beverage, binoculars, and perhaps a bird field guide.

Meet at 8:00 am at the Park and Ride next to Safeway.

Another possibility for anyone living a number of miles out of town is to email Ken ( for an alternative meeting up location. We’ll plan on being back in Port Townsend by 1:00 or 2:00 pm.

July 2015 book club selection


On Monday, July 27, 2015, the JLT Natural History Book Club will discuss The Living by Annie Dillard. We will meet at the Ilahee Preserve from 3:30 to 5:00. Contact Jean at to RSVP and for directions, if needed.

The Living is a historical fiction novel of the first settlers in Bellingham Bay. Annie Dillard became acquainted with the area while living on Lummi Island for five years in the mid 1970s.

The book begins in 1855 with a group of white settlers watching the ship sail away as they stand on the beach at the edge of the dark Northwest forest.  Annie Dillard introduces us to various people in that area during the last half of the nineteenth century—pioneer farmers and loggers, native peoples of the Northwest, Chinese immigrants, railroad men, men seeking gold in Alaska, women from Eastern cities raising children in the newly settled Northwest.  The precariousness of life in the wilderness is revealed as we learn of the many hardships of pioneer life in the Northwest.

June 2015 Book Club Selection

sand county almanac3The Natural History Society Book Club will meet on Monday, June 22, 3:30-5:00, at the Ilahee Preserve shelter, to discuss  A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold.

In A Sand County Almanc, a classic of the conservation movement,  Aldo Leopold sets forth his idea of a “land ethic,” a responsible relationship between people and the land they inhabit.  His foreword begins, “There are some who can live without wild things, and some who cannot.  These essays are the delights and dilemmas of one who cannot.”

This 1949 non-fiction book’s influence is comparable to that of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring and Thoreau’s Walden. 

RSVP to Jean for directions at