Long Island Adventure!

Hi everyone! Did you know that Willapa National Wildlife Refuge Complex oversees the largest island along Washington’s coast? Long island is sandwiched right between the Long Beach peninsula and mainland Washington, nestled in the southern corner of Willapa Bay. I got the chance to ride an airboat and see the island for myself last week and documented the experience- let’s take a look. 

on the airboat

The boat had launched from Cutthroat Creek early that morning and sailed nice as easy on the open water. Luckily, the tide was pretty high at this time, because otherwise we would have had to sail over mud flats. Luckily this wouldn’t have posed too much of a problem- airboats are light enough so that they can cruise right above the mud as long as there’s just a bit of water to skip along! After a quick ride we arrived right at the front of Long Island’s cedar grove trail, where we were going to install interpretive signs for visitors coming to camp.  

smoky hollow

The campsite had some maintenance to be done such as re-painting signs and trimming down grass, so as the YCC crew got to work, the rest of us set out for the cedars. Long Island is home to an old growth forest with cedar trees over 900 years old and a variety of animals such as deer, bears, birds, and this banana slug. 

cedar grove forest

The hike along the trail was gorgeous, the vegetation was so lush and green with plant life. Of course, if plants and animals can thrive here that means insects can too. We had worn long pants, thick rain jackets, gloves, AND mosquito nets on our faces but it wasn’t enough. There were at least a dozen of them trying to pierce our “armor” the entire trail, but that didn’t stop us from enjoying the scenery. Below are some pictures of the massive red cedar trees, as well as (unfortunately) their stumps left behind. Loggers had cut down some of the old growth trees and harvested the wood for the mainland, but ultimately stopped. According to one of the FWS rangers on the boat with us, the trees were just too thick to cut. Lucky us! 

Once we finished placing the signs things had started to wrap up for the maintenance crew as well. After lunch and a joyride across the water, it was sadly time to head back to the mainland. Overall, this island is a hidden gem containing important pieces of history. Safe to say it’s another fun day as an intern! 

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