Earth Day Tours, April 20

Friends and neighbors of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Western Ecology Division will be opening their laboratory doors to the public and giving tours on Thursday, April 20 from 1:30 to 4 p.m. Healthy ecosystems are important to humans and all sorts of other forms of life for a lengthy list of reasons – and a planet that works well to support them seems like a good enough thing to celebrate. A cool trip through local laboratories and a chance to meet members of Corvallis’ friendly scientific community certainly seem like a worthwhile way to spend an Earth Day afternoon.

The EPA’s mission to protect both human health and the environment counts on terrestrial, freshwater, and coastal systems research conducted right here in Corvallis. Stop by Thursday afternoon and learn a few of the hows and whys of some local science.

The nearly 200 employees of the EPA’s Western Ecology Division represent a respectable subsample of the greater Corvallis community who work in the service of science. Getting to share a little of what they do around town is one of the joys of this job. So directly from them, here’s what they’d like you to know about their Earth Day events and research topics they’ll be discussing.

The state tree of Oregon and one of the prevalent cash crops of the Pacific Northwest, the mighty Douglas fir, is susceptible to climate variability. See what our research is finding.

Did you know stable isotopes can be used to trace if water in the Willamette River is from the Cascade’s snowpack or lower elevation rainwater? We will show you how we do that.

We’re helping farmers in the Willamette Valley measure the amount of nitrate that is being released from farm fields. By reducing nitrate, we can impact what happens downstream and in drinking water.

Did you know that wetlands improve the quality of your drinking water?  See some of the research we’re doing to assure wetlands are doing this job well.

Have you heard of designer biochar? We make and evaluate a variety of designer biochars. Biochar is a charcoal-like material that can absorb materials that are left behind by activities such as mining.

We would love to show the community our research and welcome everyone to our open house. The Western Ecology Division is at 200 SW 35th Street in Corvallis.

From all of us here at the Advocate, happy Earth Day.

To find out more about the Western Ecology Division, visit

By Matthew Hunt