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  • Erica Simek (front row, middle) spent one week with The Nature Conservancy’s Southern Andes conservation staff at the Valdivian Coastal Reserve. The 147,500 acre Reserve is located on the coast in southern Chile. The coastal temperate rainforests in this area of Chile and the Washington Coast have a lot in common.
  • Photo taken during an evening hike in the Valdivian Coastal Reserve near the small fishing village of Chaihuin. The rocky shore of this coastline is abundant with sea life.
  • Abundance is everywhere, and it is no more apparent than by visiting a locally-run, women-owned restaurant that overlooks the sea. My bowl overflowed with fish and abalone in a creamy white sauce among layers of garlic mashed potatoes and hardboiled eggs.
  • Erica Simek, GIS Specialist for Washington State, and Stephan Halloy, Science Coordinator for the Southern Andes Conservation Program, pause during a busy day of field work in the Patagonia grasslands of Argentina. The Nature Conservancy is collaborating with the private and public sectors to establish sustainably grazed grasslands.
  • Grassland habitats around the world are one of the most altered and least protected landscapes on earth, making this region of Patagonian grasslands in Argentina an important area conservation. The Nature Conservancy is using science to study grassland health and help ranchers adopt sustainable grazing techniques.
  • Patagonia is full of many interesting critters. This armadillo makes its home in the shrub and grasslands. Similar to Washington’s arid shrub-steppe habitats, the grasslands of Patagonia are bounded by a big mountain range to the west. The desert east of these mountains receives little rain.
  • The Limay River in Argentina. Freshwater systems are an important feature of the landscape for wildlife and recreation in the dry grasslands of Patagonia. Ash on the ground is from an erupting volcano nearby.
  • Chile's Parque Nacional Huerquehue is home to araucaria, or “monkey puzzle,” trees that can live for more than 1,000 years. Individual monkey puzzle trees can be found where people planted them in Seattle neighborhoods, too.
The Nature Conservancy in Washington
View photos from Erica Simek's South American conservation adventure.

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