in the news (137)

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october 2014 | by ira trussell | show project

Three huge reservoirs along the Lewis River, Washington, generate power that supplies homes and businesses all over the Pacific Northwest. To keep the huge turbines going, you need lots of water! Speelyai Park can be a particularly wet place, especially in October. Lush stands of evergreens and ferns are a testament to the 50+ inches of precipitation that fall on the area each year. Installing two large 'winged' kiosks at this time of year could pose a soggy challenge.

Thankfully, our installation team also keeps a close eye on the weather. They reckoned that a break between fall storms would eventually appear - giving just enough time to travel the 3 hours to the site and install the kiosks.

This was the fourth installation of this type of kiosk by our crew at a Pacificorp facility. During the first installation phase several years ago, the custom kiosk design had required some creative workarounds in the field. Now, however, being seasoned veterans of installing that particular design, the install was finished in under three hours.

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october 2014 | by susan jurasz

We met with City of Springfield and Springfield Utility District to develop exhibits for a demonstration rain garden. The site was designed with the help of an architecture class, and it bears the aesthetic qualities of thoughtful design.

Rain gardens are becoming a more and more common topic for us to interpret but this one is relevant in a way that Springfeild residents can appreciate. The public water system comprises a series of ground water wells. The wellheads are all over town. The time it takes for a drop of water to travel from the ground's surface to the underground reservoir is less than a year. This time is tracked by pollutants that sometimes show up when a business or individual is not careful. Very serious consideration is paid to the "time of travel" and depending on where you live or have a business in relation to a wellhead, there are requirements to follow to preserve the pure water. This fascinated me; so often we describe the importance of pervious pavers, retention gardens, bioswales and rain gardens, but here is a town where residents require this knowledge to insure their quality of life.

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october 2014 | by peter reedijk | show project

At the highest point at Powell Butte Nature Park in Portland, OR, I encountered an old tattered mountain finder once carefully erected by industrious Boy Scouts. Sanctioned or not by city officials, it had become a fixture on the landscape enjoyed by hikers, bikers, horsemen and joggers alike. So when it came to creating a new interpretive experience on the butte, it came as no surprise that the old finder was slated to be renovated and incorporated.

As I took in the view and followed the arrows to their respective targets I would have no idea what was involved in renovating a simple Boy Scout project. A compass? A map? A theodolite?

First, there would be a long discussion as to what should be included. What is worthy to be pointed out, and what relates to Portland's water distribution story. What can or can't be seen, What is visible, but too far..., what is difficult to distinguish from the surround area, but is easy to see. As the list solidified, the elevation and distance were compiled. But wait, what is your source. Is it USGS, or Google, or Wikipedia? What about consistency? As science took hold and more people had their opinions vetted, a solution emerged.

As the design also came together, the locations were solidified into steel and concrete. Let's mark the spot. But wait. Are we talking about north, or true north? What is the deviation? What is our point of origin? We are close, so close. Yet something still seems elusive.

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october 2014 | by megan whitaker

My kids and I left rainy Coos Bay and headed north on Hwy. 101- destination Heceta Head Lighthouse. As the day wore on, sun broke through the clouds and when we rounded the corner at mile marker 177, there it was in the distance.

Five minutes later, we pulled into the parking lot for the last tour of the day. Our volunteer was an enthusiastic woman who raved about the renovation of the lighthouse and our involvement in the signage.

My kids were impressed that for early keepers a trip to Florence - which we could see in the distance - was a seven-hour wagon journey. And the trip had to be timed correctly with the tides lest you be left high and not so dry!

The guided tour was a nice bonus, but for those who arrive outside these hours, our panels help fill the void and shed some light on the workings of a modern lighthouse.

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september 2014 | by megan whitaker

Decades ago photographs were often thought out and posed; a family picnic at a lake might have been recorded for later generations. For this reason, a photo of locals enjoying Hemlock Lake was something I hoped to find at the Columbia Gorge Interpretive Center in Stevenson, Washington.

Unfortunately, the removal of Hemlock Dam divided the community in support or opposition of the Forest Service - hence our involvement in the project. Usually when I request locals for photos of their past, I am met with a warm reception and a flood of stories to accompany each photo. Not so with this project. The call went out and the only response I received was an angry letter.

I had been told the interpretive center would have such photos but after combing through all 24 photo binders, not one photo of Hemlock Lake was to be found-a strange occurrence for such a well-known site - so strange I have to wonder if someone knew I'd be looking for such photos.

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september 2014 | by ira trussell

George Rogers Park in Lake Oswego, Oregon is beautiful. A portion of it sits right on the Willamette River. Nearby sits an iron furnace built of brick, making you instantly aware that this place has an interesting history.

The park has ball fields and playgrounds, and a week ago, we added a new feature: a "Human Pretzel" game. Based on "Twister," Sea Reach designed large panels with a seasonal twist, featuring stylized snowflakes, suns, fall leaves and summer flowers. Near by is a spinner, which when spun determines where your hand and feet are to be placed on the game board. Give it a couple spins and you may be wound into a knot.

During the install, performed by all macho guys, I tried to get someone to show off his flexibility while I sent the spinner spinning, but no one would take me up on it. I suspect they snuck back later to give it a spin.

The challenge for this installation was designing for rain. The six-foot game panels are embedded in concrete - and due to expansion and contraction with temperature changes, a border needs to be left around the exhibit panels. If water enters the space under the exhibits and freezes, it can push the panels out of the pavement. To mitigate this situation, Sea Reach worked with Lake Oswego Parks to insure that the space beneath the exhibit panels is sloped and has drain holes.

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august 2014 | by michael warner

I always had a soft spot for pronghorn while working in Yellowstone. They never got the press that other animals did! Gaggles of tourists follow elk calves in the spring and their testosterone-fueled fathers in the fall. Bison are bison. Bears cause their own traffic jams, and as for wolves, well... A wolf can't so much as breathe in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem without someone writing an Op-Ed about it!

I'm not denying any of the aforementioned animals their glory. I just hate to see the struggles of the pronghorn brushed aside. Urban sprawl, roads, and fences (yes, fences - anyone who has watched the heartbreaking scene of a small herd of pronghorn stopped cold by barbed wire can tell you, pronghorn can't jump!) have made it difficult for pronghorn to migrate. In one spot near Pinedale, Wyoming, development has cut one route to just a half mile wide. Increased traffic has led to more and more pronghorn being hit crossing the highway. Thankfully, efforts to protect this migration have cumulated in the construction of innovative crossing structures.

Naturally, I was excited to have this project as my first Sea Reach assignment. I could go on and on about what inspired me, but the simple answer is pronghorn are remarkable. These great animals need our help, and the steps being taken to preserve this ancient migratory route are a huge undertaking. This project deserves all of the recognition it can get, and I'm overjoyed to be a part of it!

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august 2014 | by susan jurasz

Mary Poppins had a magical bag. On her first day at work as a nanny for the Banks family, she pulls from her carpet bag a series of items that could not possibly have fit: a full size hat stand, for example, a mirror for her wall, a floor lamp (lighted without electricity), and even a large potted plant.

This is the perfect scene to imagine for our visitor center installation in Big Cottonwood Canyon outside Salt Lake City, Utah. The exhibits are designed to fill a 30 x 40 room (1200 square feet), and then collapse into small manageable containers for storage during the winter. The Visitor Center at Silver Lake is visited by hundreds of people a day in the summer - families hiking, fishing, and enjoying the beauty of canyons. During the winter, Solitude is a popular ski resort and the visitor center is transformed into the place to rent skis and snowshoes. The project was funded by two partners: US Forest Service and the City of Salt Lake. In addition to fabricating and installing the exhibits, Sea Reach developed a detailed manual for the assembly and disassembly of the exhibits - all manageable by a two person team.

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july 2014 | by linda repplinger

When I arrived at the construction site in September, it was hot, dusty, dry and steep. Since then, the park has gone through a great transformation to lush green lawns and meandering paths. Recently, the newly renovated Huntington Park reopened to the public. The renovations and development of City Hall Plaza were a gift from Avista, who operates several hydroelectric developments along the Spokane River, including two dams in downtown Spokane.

Purple gondolas from Expo '74 follow the route of the park as it terraces down a hill toward the Spokane River. A wide concrete staircase next to the river covers the penstock where water rushes through to a giant Kaplan turbine inside an underground powerhouse. Vibrations from the spinning turbine can be felt from its lid! Interesting artifacts from historic hydroelectric projects, such as a turbine are placed along the pathways, and metal sculptures of a man on horseback and a lady smoking salmon give a glimpse into the importance of this river to the Spokane Tribe.

As part of sprucing up the park, Sea Reach worked with Jeff Frost from REC Resources on a series of exhibits to highlight the rich history of life and hydroelectric development here. The exhibits use colors and design elements that harmonize with the look and feel of the new park. We also designed and fabricated directional signs and a large kiosk using cast metal components to compliment the historic-style streetlights. The quick transformation from an inaccessible and unkempt spot along the river to a enjoyable destination is a sight to behold!

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july 2014 | by susan jurasz | show project

Walk with a member of the Nuwuvi in their sacred place of beginning: the Spring Mountains. If you listen for what they hear, look for what they see, and try to understand what they know, you will experience an awakening to the world around you.

Deep in the Spring Mountains National Recreation Area, at the base of Catherdral Rock, is a large picnic area. Within it stands a cluster of steel sculptures - a man with a drum, a child collecitng pine nuts, and a woman gathering medicinal herbs in a basket. Contrasting with the weathering steel, engraved bronze plates share the Nuwuvi's perspective. Exhibit panels and interactive displays illuminate these people's daily interaction with their homeland.

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