Before leaving for Victoria, BC I had packed my best rain coat, rain pants and anything else I could think of to try and prepare for the notoriously rainy Pacific Northwest (or Southwest as I was quickly corrected by my Canadian colleagues). However, upon my arrival one of the first things my advisor Patrick Lucey told me was how the greater-Victoria area was technically designated as a semiarid climate. This is largely because the Island in which Victoria is located (Vancouver Island) is actually south Washington’s northern state line and lies in a rain shadow of the Olympic Mountain Range in Washington State. The picture above is me noting low water levels in a pond which my host company Aqua-Tex constructed in stormwater management efforts for a new housing development. And the picture below is not from Florida, but is the result of land here that is not irrigated. Another one of my colleagues told me that this past May was the driest May in the city’s recorded history, which dates back over 100 years. So is the Pacific Northwest another of the endless victims of climate change? Not exactly. If you were to travel a mere 50 miles north, which is outside of the Olympic Mountain’s rain shadow you will find regions that get annual rainfalls of nearly 360 inches, or roughly an inch a day.
Though the greater scope of my research deals with Ecosystem Services and if/ how they can be valued in a free market, Mr. Lucey advised me to first learn the lay of not only the land in which I will be working for the next two months, but also of how Aqua-Tex functions as scientific consultants. Ecosystem Services are implicit in all the recommendations they give whether it be something small like how to build a deck off your back porch without disturbing habitats or larger projects like constructing wetlands to provide stormwater and flood assistance while also greatly increasing the value of surrounding housing, over $50,000 in some cases. It will be my task from here on out to then adapt these field visits with my research questions.