Olympic National Park | KUOW News and Information

Olympic National Park

The Olympic Peninsula was Charles Nelson’s best medicine.

The Army veteran had served during 1990s conflicts in Somalia and Kuwait before returning home to Seattle. Nelson couldn’t cope with daily life as a civilian. Something as common as an unexpected car-door slam gave him a shiver of fear. Doctors diagnosed him with anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

He joined a group of veterans who took weekly hikes deep into the rainforest.

“It was better therapy for me than anything else I’ve really been through,” Nelson said.

The Navy has just been granted permits by the U.S. Forest Service to expand electromagnetic warfare training over Washington’s Olympic Peninsula.

Now the Navy is cleared to drive trucks out into the Olympic National Forest, armed with electromagnetic signaling technology. Then growler jets will take off from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island and fly overhead, searching for the signal trucks from the air. It's essentially a military training game of hide-and-go-seek. The trucks simulate cell towers and other communications behind enemy lines that the Navy wants to scramble.

Seven Lakes Basin in Olympic National Park.
KUOW Photo/Kara McDermott

Bill Radke speaks with local poet and writer Tim McNulty about what makes Olympic National Park unique to Washington state. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service. McNulty is the author of "Olympic National Park:  A Natural History."

Multiple times this summer, the sighting of a wayward hobbyist drone has grounded aerial firefighting aircraft at Western wildfires. But unmanned aircraft have the potential to be useful at wildfires too.

EarthFix Photo/Katie Campbell

Anne Shaffer sits on the sandy shoreline of the Elwha River and looks around in amazement. Just two years ago, this area would have been under about 20 feet of water.

Removal of the two dams on the Elwha River has been temporarily halted because massive amounts of sediment released from above the dams have clogged a nearby city’s water treatment facilities.

Michael Murray

The American marten is a small elusive member of the weasel family. People trap them and sell their pelts on the fur market where they’re known as “sable.” Their numbers are healthy across places like Canada and northern parts of the US, but scientists worry that marten populations have severely declined in coastal mountain ranges -- like the Olympic National Forest -- but they don’t know for sure. A group of volunteers is working with scientists to help monitor the martens and gather data to help determine their future.

Scientists will soon head to the Olympic coast to evaluate a dock that washed ashore in a remote section of Olympic National Park. It could be debris from last year’s tsunami in Japan. It might even be as big as the gigantic piece of debris that showed up on Oregon’s coast in June. That dock weighed 188 tons.

Dave Workman with the Washington state Marine Debris Task Force tells KUOW’s Sara Lerner scientists need to see if invasive species might be hitching a ride on the dock. They also need to figure out how to remove it.