What’s happened in the aftermath of the eruption of Mount St. Helens has exploded all the scientific theories and myths about ecological recovery. Life there has returned with a vengeance and with it, presented a number of mysteries. OREGON FIELD GUIDE joins one scientist who has spent his entire career since the eruption studying the area, particularly in and around Spirit Lake. Tune in to the stations of Oregon Public Broadcasting on Thursday, May 13 at 8:30pm to investigate some bizarre occurrences. Also visit a special camp for city kids and see why competitive rowing is a popular sport among high-school students. 

Mount St. Helens — After Mount St. Helens erupted, scientists urged that Spirit Lake be left alone, making it a living laboratory to study how life returned to the area. The explosion of the mountain triggered the largest landslide in recorded history, moving the lake — raising the bottom 200 feet and spreading it over an area twice its original size. The ancient trees blasted off the hillsides now cover 15 to 20 percent of the lake surface while others have sunk to the bottom, helping create a nutrient-rich environment that fed plants and insects. Life was on the rebound in the warm waters with the exception of fish. Then one day, scientists surveying the waters found a rainbow trout. And even though they were fairly certain that the fish was placed in the lake, it became a part of the study. Trout multiplied and flourished in the waters now teeming with food. In fact, they grew three times faster than normal. But they were also dying at about a third of their life expectancy. Ecologists also noted a resurgence of amphibians and were surprised to learn that 12 of the 15 known species that inhabited the area survived the devastating blast and are thriving thanks to their ability to adapt to life completely lived in water.

Tilikum Center — The Columbus Day storm of 1962 all but wiped out Russell Baker’s dairy farm in the Chehalem Valley near Newberg. Baker had long envisioned making a place that could be used for recreation, renewal and education, and he made a promise that if he got back on his feet after the storm, he’d make that dream come true. That’s how the 92-acre Tilikum Center was born. Now, kids of all ages leave the city and come here to enjoy nature and gain confidence through teamwork and challenges that help them overcome their fears.

Competitive Rowing — See why the sport of competitive rowing is growing in popularity with high-school students.  We follow a team from Lake Oswego as they train hard on the Willamette River and then head to Washington for a regional competition. We will also show you why this is such a great sport for college bound girls..

FIELD GUIDE repeats Sundays at 1:30am and 6:30pm. Full episodes of FIELD GUIDE are available at watch.opb.org. Videos of the stories featured on FIELD GUIDE are available at opb.org/programs/ofg/

In its 21st season, OREGON FIELD GUIDE remains a valuable source of information about outdoor recreation, ecological issues, natural resources and travel destinations. OREGON FIELD GUIDE airs Thursday evenings at 8:30pm on the television stations of Oregon Public Broadcasting and repeats on Sunday evenings at 6:30pm. In the Mountain Time zone of Eastern Oregon, the program airs at 9:30pm Thursdays, and at 7:30pm Sundays.

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