in the news (144)

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december 2014 | by linda repplinger | show project

How many different kinds of bats do you think fly over our heads at night? I was amazed to learn that at least seventeen bat species could be found in the Spring Mountains, and thirteen are regulars to the McWilliams Campground. While designing bat themed exhibits for the campground, I learned how unique each species really is.

A dark color palette and a background of starry skies set the exhibits’ atmosphere. One exhibit introduces all the species in the style of a team roster with portraits, size, weight, flight characteristics, calls, what they eat, where they roost, and their range. Each species also is shown at full-size flying throughout the exhibits with easy-to-read labels color-coded to the roster.

Other exhibits describe bats’ amazing capabilities for flight and communication, roosting habitats, how and why bats are researched, and why bats are important to the ecosystem and to people.

When visitors look up they see life-sized bats flying above their heads, silhouetted against the sky. This effect is achieved with a mobile, which has metal cutout bats on the ends of long arms that move in the wind. Campers can now call out "to the bat mobile!"

Visitors can also experience what it is like to be a bark roosting bat in the "bat squeeze." The bat squeeze is made up of two rounded exhibits of tree bark that taper at one end to accommodate for various ages and sizes of people.

One final note: When the exhibits were being loaded on the truck to ship to Nevada, a bat flew out from the truck and over our heads, across the blue sky—we’ll take this as a good omen

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december 2014 | by kathy hocker

It's a chilly gray day in Juneau, Alaska, but my eight-year-old friend Bruno doesn't mind. Like any proper Alaska kid, he's bundled warmly, cap to boots-in fact, at the rate he's leaping and tumbling along Auke Lake Trail, he' probably too warm.

Sea Reach has been hired to create interpretive exhibits for this trail. Since the signs will be designed primarily for children, I have engaged an expert for advice: I've invited Bruno along so I can learn more about how a kid experiences the trail.

Within just a few yards of the trailhead, it's clear that Bruno's imagination, curiosity, and quicksilver energy make for a decidedly non-adult perspective. Bruno is all about engagement. He prefers to clamber along the sides rather than walk the trail's smooth surface. He takes photos, twirls sticks, and tosses spruce cones, all in rapid succession. When we come across a stilt-rooted tree, he dives in underneath like a porcupine. It takes us almost two hours to travel just about a mile-but it's a mile packed with small adventures.

By the time we get back to the trailhead, my mind is jumping among potential topics like a kid through the woods. I can't wait to start planning the new interpretive signs! First, though, I treat Bruno to a cup of cocoa and a waffle at a local café-a small reward for some truly expert advice.

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december 2014 | by megan whitaker

I see them everywhere. They're in grocery stores and newspapers; they even pop up on the news. But I don't ever want to see them on the signage that leaves our shop and gets installed in parks and historic sites all over the country.

One of my jobs at Sea Reach is to proofread (one word, no hyphen) all the signage before it goes to a client - and especially before it goes to press. That means I am frequently asked about hyphens, word divisions, and the correct usages of words that sound the same but have completely different meanings. I ensure (yes, with an "e" and not an "i") that all the panels we produce - including those not of our own design - are grammatically correct and free of spelling errors.

Misspelled words, no matter who writes them, don't have a place on signage commemorating a site, a person or a historic event. And yes, "a historic" - rather than "an historic" - is the current correct usage, according to Oxford.

Common Errors and Sticking Points
Scientific names Genus not capitalized
British spellings
Non-Standard Spelling (Is it Douglas Fir or Douglas-fir? Forest Service or USDA Forest Service?)

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november 2014 | by susan jurasz

Too many signs can be nearly as confusing as no signs. In effort to clean up the clutter, Yamhill County decided to combine the blue TODs (tourist oriented directionals) with a map and display them in a kiosk at particularly busy intersections.

Nearly all of the TODs at these sites lead to vineyards. Sea Reach was asked to design the prototype kiosks and fabricate the first two in Yamhill County. The signs can be equipped with a QR code that goes directly to the vineyard's web site.

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november 2014 | by susan jurasz | show project

Finishing a big project is bitter sweet. After eight years, we are crossing the finish line. I am surprised at how emotional I feel. Since we started, there are only a few of us that can say we were here from start. Most people have come and gone. And here we are, finessing the last bolt, sweeping the concrete dust from the holes we drill, putting the finishing touches on exhibits that are as much of works of art as they are educational exhibits. Our faces are rosy from the wind and sun exposure in the Spring Mountains above Las Vegas. Our hearts, full of the joy we feel in a job well done, and our minds already searching for the next challenging task ahead of us.

This has been an amazing opportunity and we have loved it.

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november 2014 | by susan jurasz

For three days, we travel the loop from Ottawa to Havanah, Illinois along the route designated as a national scenic byway. The weather is incredible, late October, Indian summer. The trees are still bright with color and the corn is waiting for harvest. The sun casts a rich warm hue from its low angle in the sky.

There are so many stories along this byway, beginning with the challenges of connecting Chicago (lake Michigan) to the ocean via the Illinois River to the burial mounds of ancient people. But the sight that intrigued me the most was a series of massive brick buildings that were once the world's largest distillery. Peoria once produced more whisky than any city in world. So great was the revenue from the whiskey tax that Peoria's share of taxes paid to the federal government was larger than that of any other district in the entire United States. River access, good water, an abundance of corn and barley, and good means of transportation all contributed to the unprecedented success of Peoria's alcohol industry. Having once employed over 1000 people, the distillery's production peaked in 1969 with over 8.5 million cases of whiskey. But increasingly strict environmental regulations made the coal-powered plant obsolete, and they closed the doors in the 1980s after 50 years of production. Today the site processes ethanol. This will be one of the stories we highlight in an interpretive plan for the byway.

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november 2014 | by susan jurasz

I am standing in "Downtown Abby," listening to a National Park Service Interpretive Specialist weave into a story all the aspects of a lovely drawing room - a setting from the early 1900s: a young woman, Eliza, who is a passionate horticulturalist and has a family with the means to allow her to collect in person... or invite guests who will bring as gifts unique tree species from around the world. The trees now over 100 years old stand sentinel to the majestic mansion.

The grand estate and grounds of the Hampton National Historical Site in Maryland was once the home of a prestigious American family called the Ridgleys. Generations lived and prospered on this estate, and as the young nation changed, so did their lives.

Sea Reach has been tasked with the design, fabrication, and installation of exhibits into the new visitor welcome center at the estate.

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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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