Un Gigante en Yaquina Head

(English translation provided below the Spanish version)

Desde una belleza natural envuelta en un verdor de espesos y vastos bosques extendiéndose más lejos de lo que cualquiera pudiera ver, la costa del estado de Oregón ofrece un destino de vistas paradisiacas que combinan el esplendor de la naturaleza con la complejidad arquitectónica de su historia. Es aquí mismo, sobre la costa de Oregón, que se encuentra el faro de Yaquina Head; un lugar de intrigante historia y singular aprendizaje cultural que hace destacar a la ciudad de Newport. No hace falta colocarse a la base del faro para apreciar su grandeza; desde la distancia, ya sea viniendo del norte o del sur, el primer emblemático punto de referencia que se puede divisar a la distancia es este faro.

Trabajando con la Oficina de Administración de Tierras (BLM por sus siglas en inglés) del estado de Oregón, he tenido la oportunidad de interactuar con diversos turistas, quienes ajenos a esta localidad, acuden a  esta zona natural para deleitarse con la vista. La imponente presencia del faro cuenta la historia de un centinela cuya luz, iluminada desde 1872, otorgó pasaje seguro a centenales de navíos venturados en las frías aguas de la costa rocosa de Newport. Nuevas tecnologías han opacado la misión de este veterano, quien por más de cien años de impecable contienda antagónica hacia la implacable naturaleza, ha logrado resistir y habiendo cumplido su encomienda se le ha otorgado el derecho a la jubilación.

El BLM ofrece recorridos en el faro, dirigidos por guías vestidos en atuendos de la época victoriana. Tuve la oportunidad de formar parte de uno de estos entretenidos recorridos y mientras subía la escalinata de 114 escalones, una ineludible pregunta invadía mi mente: ¿qué ha sido de aquellos quienes habían sido delegados con la tarea de mantener la luz del faro encendida, los escalones pintados, el aceite fluyendo y al público informado? Para contestar preguntas como esta los guías turísticos del BLM son entrenados para representar el papel de los custodios y sus esposas, los cuales desempeñaron la difícil tarea de mantener esta fortaleza funcionando. La historia cuenta que desde 1872 hubo un equipo integrado por tres custodios del faro, quienes en compañía de sus familiares vivieron justo al lado de la torre. Fue en la época de los años 1930, cuando la electricidad remplazo el uso del aceite y la tripulación se redujo a sólo dos custodios; hecho que marcó el comienzo de la decadencia de los faros como guías marítimos. La época llegó  a su fin en el año 1966 cuando se instaló una computadora para controlar la luz y los dos últimos custodios partieron de este territorio junto a sus familias.

Hoy en día el faro que había visto tantos soles pasar frente a si, funciona como atractivo turístico y centro de reconocimiento histórico. Sigue exponiéndose en una vertical de fortaleza e historia viviente que ha trascendido desde hace ya un centenario y medio hasta la época contemporánea.


The coast of the state of Oregon offers a natural beauty wrapped in a greenery of thick and vast forests extending farther than anyone can see. It is a destination of paradisiacal views that combines the splendor of nature with the architectural complexity of its history. It is here, on the coast of Oregon, that the lighthouse of Yaquina Head is located; a place of intriguing history and unique cultural learning that highlights the city of Newport. You don’t need to stand at the base of the lighthouse to appreciate its greatness; even from the distance, whether coming from the North or South, the first iconic point of reference that you can see in the distance is the lighthouse.

Working with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) of the state of Oregon, I have had the opportunity to interact with various tourists, who as foreigners in this town, come to this area to revel in the view. The imposing presence of the lighthouse tells the story of a sentry whose light, illuminated since 1872, granted safe passage to hundreds of adventurous ships in the cold waters off the rocky coast of Newport. New technologies have overshadowed the mission of this veteran, who for more than a hundred years of impeccable antagonistic combat toward the relentless force of nature, which has managed to resist and having fulfilled its task it earned the right to retirement.

The BLM offers tours in the lighthouse, led by guides dressed in Victorian attire. I had the opportunity to be part of one of these entertaining tours and while climbing the staircase of 114 steps, an inescapable question was invading my mind: what has become of those who had been delegated with the task of maintaining the light from the lighthouse, the paint of the steps, the oil flowing and the public informed ? Tourist guides of the BLM are trained to answer questions like this one by representing the role of the keepers of the lighthouse and their wives, who played the difficult task of maintaining this fortress running. The story tells that since 1872 there was a team composed of three keepers of the lighthouse, who along with their families lived right next to the tower. It was at the time of the 1930’s, when electricity replaced the use of oil, that the crew was reduced to only two custodians; an event that marked the beginning of the decline of the lighthouses as maritime guides. Their time came to an end in 1966 when a computer was installed to control the light and the last two keepers and their families departed from this territory.

Today the lighthouse that had seen so many seasons pass before it, functions as a tourist attraction and center of historical recognition. It is still exposing itself as living history that has transcended from almost a century and a half ago to the contemporary period.





This is my farewell blog.
Today marks my last day for EFTA. Today was very much a tear jerker because it was the last day that I would trample the floor of the La Jara office of BLM. Today was the last day that I got to pick on all my forest friends and the day I turned in all my keys. It jerked at my heart as I said my goodbyes, but felt good to know that I met so many amazing people along the journey.
I would like to give a huge thank you to the two most wonderful ladies I know! Jill and Sue have moved mountains in my life. They are true role models and for the first time ever, because of them, I was able to witness my dream job, which is doing what they do every single day of their lives. It is miraculous to see two women that love their job still today as they did 30 years ago. I have no idea how they do all that they do but somehow it all gets done and they give it 110%. It is because of them that my summer was all that it was. It is because of them that I was able to enjoy my time and learn so much in just 6 months. It is truly because of them that I work harder and harder every day to become a better person than I was yesterday. Any time we get together there’s not only a list of things to get done, but honestly deep thoughts, venting sessions, and uncontrollable laughter. These women deserve the best boss award on top of the best mentor award. They always know what to say and always have the right time to say it. The three of us have so much in common that it’s to see us work all so well together. I have the same stubborn attitude as Jill and the same positive attitude as Sue. Somehow they have meshed our crazy team into a phenomenal group to work with that holds great diversity and strength. I am more than proud to say that I will be part of this team again next year and I am so excited to see what they have in store for us. It has been such a pleasure!
Not only has it been a pleasure working with them but also with Deisy of course, Portland DUH, Stefan, Lisa, Angelica, and all the other wonderful people that I was able to spend time with this summer. I also would like to say it was a pleasure being able to debrief about my weeks and share it with all you readers out there. Thank you for all the listening (or reading I should say) that you have done, all the support that was given, and most importantly the motivation to continue on my journey.
Ta-Ta =)

And it comes to an end…

Mianna Maestas:
Time is going by far too fast!

I live such a chaotic life that it doesn’t feel as though the festival was already a week ago!

Considering that our office will be moving to Monte Vista, the last two weeks of my journey will be spent helping pack up and getting the show on the road.

This week I spent my time cleaning things up from the festival and getting things organized so that everything is easier to find for next year. I also started a binder for the interns next year that give directions on games we used for outreach, our protocol, and other odds and ends that they may need. I know I will be around next year to help them out.

I am sad that Deisy’s time is over and that I have no one to pick on, laugh at, or spend time with. I am happy to see her be successful in Denver, but there are days that I just miss her presence.

I am not sure I like that summer is over because school is in full swing and I hardly get to see or spend time with my buddies from work. It makes me sad, yet excited because I know that I have the privilege to spend another summer with them and have even more good times together!

Until next time…..

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Alamosa’s First Shorebird Festival

Mianna Maestas-

I am proud to say that September 13, 2014 marks the first ever shorebird festival in Alamosa Colorado. All of the hard work that Deisy and I performed on top of all of our day to day tasks has finally paid off. It was great to see all the families out having a great time and participating in all of the events. It was such a treat to see all the smiling faces as the kids were able to participate in STEM programs such as solar car races, estimation games, and making bird feeders and paper owls. I think it helped a lot with the fact that they could win all kinds of cool prizes. We were able to give them all tattoos, stickers, bubbles, duck lip whistles, bird whistles, butterfly seed growers, and so much more!

I first want to say thank you to all the volunteers, participants, donors, and all that believed in us.  I also want to thank my bosses, Jill and Sue, for giving us the opportunity to get out there and do it no matter what the outcome may be, and I also want to thank all those that came to see what was going on, and I have so many ideas for next year. It would have not been possible without all the support.

We raised a total of 2,800 dollars! The entire festival paid for itself! Prizes included! Our families took home prices such as wolf creek ski resort passes, 3 month passes to Hooper pool, individual passes to Hooper pool, Gift certificates to Kristi Mountain sports and El Vallecito, and visa gift cards starting at 50 dollars. All and all the event was amazing and I am excited to see what it can become I am proud to say, WE DID IT!! We created our first festival! It took a lot of hard work but that hard work was worth every second just to see families coming together to enjoy time learning and competing.

Going South for the Winter

My time in Newport has come to an end, but thanks to Environment for the Americas my adventure in Oregon is still on the horizon. I was invited to work under the auspices of Klamath Bird Observatory to band birds during the Fall migration. Within the world of ornithology, KBBO is a powerhouse of scientific data purposed for the conservation of migratory bird species. Research coming out of the center contributes to understanding the habitat needs of wildlife, resulting in the publication of bird databases, the development of policy suggestions for documents like the upcoming State of the Birds report, the founding of citizen science projects, and the creation of education programs. Knowing their dedication to a higher caliber of science, I’m incredibly happy to be involved with KBBO projects on migratory birds. The Shorebird surveys of the EFTA Internship was a great segue into learning about the biology of birds through field research with KBBO. It is humbling to know that both EFTA and KBBO have confidence in my birding experience and skills to take on the task of catching and banding birds. Packing my bags in Newport was done with much anticipation for what lied ahead.

Bolting from the coast to the land they call “Southern Oregon” was a trip, to say the least; as soon as I passed the Cascades it was hard to believe that I was still in the same state, let alone the same continent. Within thirty minutes the landscape changed drastically. In place of lush temperate rain forests, violently windblown headlands, and the lingering scent of wet mud were conifers sparsely clinging to towering cliff sides, scrub and bush sucking the land dry, and the haze of dust getting flung up by pick-up trucks zipping down highway 97. Coming from D.C., where the humidity stubbornly reminds nature’s conquerors of the swamplands it once derived from, my body craves moisture. In Newport, as wet as it is, I already felt the strain of a dryer climate on my skin, leading me to immediately invest in a bottle of heavy duty moisturizer. Now that I’m in Klamath I realize that I am a wimp–the additional three bottles of Cocoa Butter in my shopping cart last week confirms that I am indeed in a new, much dryer, place and there’s a lot of new things yet to learn and discover about Oregon.

We didn’t spare any time. En route to Klamath Falls my friend and I stopped by Bend, Oregon to hike in Smith Rock State Park. It seemed too easy to not take advantage of. The route between Newport and Klamath practically invited us to take the mountainous detour; we would only be 45 minutes away. The park was epic, with lots of scenic views and trails for all sorts of recreational activities. In one path alone we crossed paths with birders, rock climbers, mountaineers, tourists, photographers, and adrenaline junkies hurling themselves off of the cliff side with a harnessed pulley system. The last of these outdoorist groups kindly dared us to take a leap. Cautiously scanning the drop from Smith Rock to the hiking trails [what seemed like] thousands of feet below, I decided against the impulsive temptation: I had places to go and birds to band.

The destination was a U.S. Fish & Wildlife cabin tucked away in mountainous forest alongside a big lake. I imagine a real estate agent would describe the place as “rustic.” It’s made of all wood, with cute little windows, picnic tables outside in the yard, and a back porch. Inside there is aged furniture to lounge on and an abundance of birding books, everywhere! It’s practically a birder’s dream here. There’s all sorts of cool birds that I’ve never seen before that hang out right outside our windows and all of the resources you can imagine available to you to identify them. On the drive in I already saw six species that were new to me. Little did I know what the next week would bring…

To be continued. Maybe there will be some bird pictures, maybe some videos…I hope the anticipation doesn’t kill you. Tune in soon.

Bird on!