Summer nature programs explore 'PDX wilderness'

Evening and weekend outings connect community with region's wildlife, natural areas

Looking for something new to do outside this summer? How about searching for owls by night, exploring a recently protected wetland area or learning to build a fire without matches?

Beginning this weekend, nature lovers and not-so-outdoorsy types alike can experience the Oregon summer through a series of outdoor programs led by naturalists from the Oregon Zoo's education division.

"It's hard to imagine anything more blissful than an Oregon summer," said John Sheehan, manager of the Oregon Zoo's parks education program. "And what better way to enjoy it than in the cool of the forest or along a wild and scenic river? These nature programs are an opportunity to help people enjoy the wilderness in their own community — and understand it better too."

Covering six Metro natural areas from Oxbow Regional Park to Beaverton's Cooper Mountain, programs range from easy to moderate, and most are open to children 8 years old and above.

Wondering what to on a lazy summer Sunday? On July 6 and July 13, enjoy a casual drop-in stroll through a Metro park brimming with wildlife and scenic vistas.

On Saturday, July 19, explore the rare oak woodlands of Mount Talbert and get a window into a time when the Willamette Valley was a patchwork of habitats providing an abundance of wild foods for people and wildlife alike.

On Saturday, July 26, families can learn how to make fire without matches, and carve their own "bow drill" fire-making kits, which they will get to take home.

Sunday, July 27, offers a sneak peek at the Killin Wetlands, where a glimpse of the elusive — and locally rare — Virginia rail is possible.
On Wednesdays July 9 and July 16, and Tuesday, July 29, a stealthy dusk ramble through one of Metro's beautiful nature parks takes hikers on a search for nocturnal wildlife, with magnificent vistas and a chance to spot the moon and planets in the summer sky.

Learn more and register.