March 2015 marks ten years in my tenure with Opal Creek Ancient Forest Center. I was hired in 2005 by what was then called Friends of Opal Creek. The organization was small, but big on ambition and vision, and still fresh off an incredible conservation victory.
There are at least a thousand different colors of green, and they all occur in the Opal Creek Wilderness. There are maybe fifteen different ways it can rain and they all happen here, sometimes in one day.
Janelle Hammerstrom joined the Opal Creek team at the beginning of 2015 and we’re so excited to have her on the Portland staff. A recent arrival to Portland, she comes to us from Tri-Cities, Washington, where she grew up camping and hanging out at the river.
“Opal Creek means an awakening to nature. A special place where people have fallen in love with the environment, so in love they want to save it.”—Alexa, Reynolds Learning Academy student
When I tell people I work for Opal Creek, I see an envious glimmer enter their eyes. Perhaps they imagine me and my coworkers, hiking off-trail in the Opal Creek Wilderness to a mossy rock ledge, where we pull out our laptops and write grants, make staff schedules, and do double-entry bookkeeping to the sounds of wind and birdsong.
I am at the company store explaining to a family about our backpacking trips for teenagers. Their young daughter looks up for an acknowledging sign; this is the summer adventure she’s been looking for. The parents tell her with a smile that they will talk about it at dinner and dog ear the Expeditions page in our catalog. Opal pool is their next destination, a family giving dad his day in the woods.