OHA presents: Secrets and Strengths of the Moss World

Julie Vanderwal/submitted photos  A diverse mosaic of moss species awakens from dormancy when snowmelt runs down a granite outcrop in early spring near Molson.

Julie Vanderwal/submitted photos
A diverse mosaic of moss species awakens from dormancy when snowmelt runs down a granite outcrop in early spring near Molson.

TONASKET – Mosses are a fascinating part of our world. They operate much like their larger relatives, like trees and shrubs, just on a much smaller scale. Erica Heinlen will share her expertise to bring the moss world into focus for the community on Friday, Jan. 4 at 6:30 p.m. at the Community Cultural Center of Tonasket.

Erica Heinlen uses a dissecting scope to identify lichen at OHA’s “Evening with the Experts” event in 2014.

Erica Heinlen uses a dissecting scope to identify lichen at OHA’s “Evening with the Experts” event in 2014.

In this talk, she will touch on the taxonomy of mosses as well as their structure and life cycle. Participants will also discover the importance of mosses in the ecosystems and discuss where they grow. In addition the presentation will explore concepts of conservation and then see some special species found here in the Okanogan. Finally, some of the “Frequently Asked Questions” that the audience may have about mosses will be addressed. It will be an interesting journey as we unlock the secrets and strengths of the moss world.

The community is fortunate to have a moss expert living in Tonasket. Heinlen studied botany at the University of Washington and worked for the local Forest Service for several years doing vascular plant surveys. She caught an interest in bryophytes (mosses, etc.) on the job and so attended the University of Alberta and obtained her Masters degree in 2002,on “Patterns of bryophyte diversity and rarity of the Okanogan Highlands of Washington State.” She has been working part-time for the Forest Service and contracting other bryophyte work since then.

In addition to the presentation at the Community Cultural Center (CCC), 411 Western Ave., there will be a dinner benefiting the CCC at 5:15 p.m., followed by the presentation with tea, coffee and desserts at 6:30 p.m. The cost of the presentation is free; dinner is $9 with desserts by donation (also benefiting the CCC).

This educational event is provided by OHA, and hosted at the CCC. OHA is a non-profit organization that works to educate the public on watershed issues. The Highland Wonders educational series features the natural history of the Okanogan Highlands and surrounding areas. OHA’s Education Program is designed to build the community’s capacity for environmental stewardship by increasing understanding of local natural history through a variety of free public learning opportunities.

For more info about this and other free upcoming educational events, visit www.okanoganhighlands.org/education/hw, or contact julie@okanoganhighlands.org / 509-476-2432. Past event videos are available on YouTube on the channel, “OHA’s Highland Wonders,” and on the website.