Moving to Oregon from my hometown of St. Paul, Minnesota, I was on the lookout for adventure. An almost five-hour flight and nearly 1,800 miles later, I finally saw the mountains and greenery of the Pacific Northwest that I’d been waiting for.
When you look up "things to do in Eugene" on Google, the first place that comes up is Mount Pisgah, described as “a peak with hiking and a living tree museum.” A maximum elevation of 1,531 feet sounded especially exciting coming from a city that barely even reaches 900 feet above sea level. Just a 13-minute drive away from the University of Oregon campus, the arboretum is perfect for students looking for a place to spend the day.
Even at the start of the trail, countless species of flowering plants, lichens, fungi, and birds were around to witness. When looking to find beautiful and interesting plant species to look for, the arboretum’s website provides an extensive—and continuously growing—plant list devised by nature lovers, volunteers, and visiting university students.
We are lucky to have abundant nature and wildlife in luscious arboretums like Mount Pisgah so close to campus, but a quickly-changing climate is transforming this landscape and all the life it contains.
With a drop in average snowfall, snowpack, and streamflow -- and an even higher than predicted decline in summer rainfall -- the Pacific Northwest is predicted to have a future of habitat loss, pests, disease, and wildfires, according to conservation information provided by the Oregon Zoo. Temperature and precipitation changes are threats to what makes places like Mount Pisgah beautiful.
These changes seem scary and inevitable, but fearing them isn’t the answer. Taking action by communicating the importance of climate change to public officials and the general public may prove the best course of action when looking to preserve places that are appreciated for their nature and outdoor activities.
In addition, humans must take advantage of natural beauty, wherever we may find it, whilst still being responsible and conscious about our environmental impact. Whether in Minnesota or Oregon, collections of trees, flowering plants, insects, fungi and abundant life won’t be around forever, unless — collectively — we take action to preserve it.