Forest Health Project Underway – Pardon Our Mess!

One of the best parts of working at the Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks and Minerals is the park-like setting on the grounds. We love our rocks and minerals, but we’ll talk at length about any of the earth sciences. For example, it’s common to see us commenting about deer on the lawn, elk in the fields, coyotes along the treeline, or raptors circling overhead. Lately, we realized we had to address some long-overdue management of our forested stands. We love our trees, but there are problems to fix.

The Helvetia elk herd is a welcome sight every winter at the museum.
Forests surround the museum looking west; left is US-26. Note the stand of diseased timber on the right, with bare trunks, stunted tops, and leaning trees.

One concern has been the frequency that the large trees come down in winter wind storms. The Northwest Gallery took a major hit two years ago when a middle-aged Douglas Fir crashed into the roof. Last year a dead branch fell among some school kids exploring the rock pile. Nobody was hurt, but we didn’t want to go through that again.

Trees from the compromised stand landed on the roof of the Northwest Gallery during a 2017 wind storm.

We contacted the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) for insights and explained our concerns centered on safety and environmental management, rather than an economic boost. During a lengthy tour, ODF Stewardship Forester Kevin Nelson from the Forest Grove office walked the entire 28-acre property with us, and told us some of his concerns.

The Southwest Stand is in good shape, but could use some thinning to improve overall health. The Front Yard area is fine, and requires no work. The Compromised Stand has problems that have to be addressed.
  1. The large stand located south of the Northwest Gallery has multiple problems. Dubbed the “Compromised Stand,” it has served as overflow parking for major events, which, in retrospect, was not a good idea. Years of parking cars there has compacted the soil and damaged the tree roots, resulting in unhealthy trees. Several of the larger trees displayed signs of significant rot. The younger trees underneath appeared stunted and in poor health. ODF approved removing most of this stand to convert to dedicated parking.
  2. The trees growing at the bottom of the lawn, dubbed the Front Yard stand, are in good shape, so no action is required there.
  3. The Southwest Stand appears to be in good shape as well, but in serious need of thinning, and showing signs of distress. Our ODF contact stipulated that he would not sign off on high-grading the good wood out of that stand; instead, he advised an “addition by subtraction” approach to remove rotting or undersized leaners, fixing crowded spots, etc. He also advised against keeping some of the larger trees along the edge of the stand that threaten the main museum building. He pointed out a thriving section of Western Red cedar that he recommended leaving as-is, and believes we’ll end up with a truly park-like setting when the job is complete.

With all the permits in place and consultations concluded, Salmon Creek Construction began removing the compromised stand on February 8. They immediately confirmed our worst fears: many of the larger trees were weak and dangerous.

New view east from the Northwest Gallery. Note the large dark middle of the log in front – it had severe rot inside and was not healthy.

In addition, we have some up-to-date advice for the rest of the acreage to the north, which was logged and replanted with Douglas Fir with mixed success many years ago. ODF advised against restocking any more Douglas Fir seedlings, due to extended droughts and changing climate. Way back in Oregon Territory history when Joe Meek homesteaded on the property directly west of the museum, Douglas Fir was a dominant species across the Tualatin Plains. Now, foresters recommend replanting with an Oregon variety of Ponderosa Pine, which is much more resistant to drought. Since six out of the last ten years have experienced drought-like conditions through the summer, he was concerned that we would waste our time stocking with Western Redcedar or Douglas Fir. So we’ll be removing 60-70 unhealthy trees from the front, and replanting with about 300 Ponderosa Pine seedlings in the back, with a mix of local oak. We’ll retain the oak habitat, with a long-term goal of creating some nature trails for public use.

Plot of the museum’s acreage, which abuts US-26 to the south. The open patch to the north was cut and replanted years ago, and could use more trees as long as they aren’t Douglas Fir.

We are sorry to see the trees go, but it was time to act. We anticipate Salmon Creek will be done with the Compromised Stand very quickly weather permitting), so patrons shouldn’t be affected once the trees are down and we turn the slash pile and stumps into much-needed chips. The plan is to address the Southwest Stand from the back, via the service road, further reducing impact to the public. Once the logging is complete, we can apply for a permit, hire an engineering firm to address grading, and lay down a thick bed of gravel in time for our major events this summer. If you’d like to help with our expenses during this operation, feel free to click the Donate button. We appreciate your help!

Guided Tours: Now On Sunday!

Our popular guided tours are now available Saturday AND Sunday!

Guided tours are included with admission and start at 2:00 PM on Saturday and Sunday afternoons and last for approximately 90 minutes. Get here a few minutes early to purchase your admission, then meet your knowledgeable museum host at the entrance of the Northwest Gallery at 2:00 PM to join the fun.

Tours are appropriate for all ages and cover the whole museum.

Students in exhibit room - Rice Northwest Rock and Mineral Museum.

New Topaz Crystals from Pakistan now on exhibit

A spectacular new specimen of topaz and smoky quartz crystals is now on exhibit at the Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks and Minerals. This exhibit was recently donated by long-time museum supporters Sharon Meieran and Fred Cirillo.

Topaz and smoky quartz from Shigar Valley, Pakistan

The overall specimen, which stands over 14-inches tall, contains two large sherry-colored topaz crystals in a matrix of white/gray clevelandite (a variety of albite feldspar). Several large smoky quartz crystals tower over the topaz crystals. The minerals were found in the Shigar River Valley in the Himalayan Mountains of Pakistan, an area known the world over as a source of many varieties of gems including tourmaline and aquamarine. Spectacular specimens like this one occur in deposits at elevations of 8,000 to 13,000 feet above sea level. If gem crystals are able to grow into an open cavity as they form, we get these amazing and showy rocks.

One of the reasons we close on Mondays and Tuesdays is so that we can perform case cleaning, maintenance and installation of new exhibits such as this one. We received several other fine mineral donations in the last month. Look for these to be on exhibit in the museum soon.

If you would like to come see the new specimen, Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks and Minerals is open special Holiday Hours this Wednesday-Sunday from 10:00 AM-5:00 PM. Happy holidays from all of us at Rice Northwest Museum!

Job Announcement: Curator

The Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks and Minerals, an Affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, seeks a curator to manage, maintain, and promote the museum’s collection of rocks, minerals, fossils, gems, and meteorites. The curator must have the technical and managerial skills and expertise required to maintain, display, and enhance the Museum’s extensive collections and associated records. The position requires a dynamic person with a proven ability to translate the mineral collection into accessible and compelling exhibits and teaching tools or programs.

Competencies & Experience Requirements:

  • Minimum of a Bachelor’s degree in geology, Master’s or PhD preferred.
  • 20180820_144128At least 2 years technical experience in mineral sciences involving education, curation and/or collection management with a detailed knowledge of mineral collection management.
  • Proficiency in basic personal computer applications.
  • Basic knowledge of scientific mineralogical equipment.
  • Proficiency in the use of both verbal and written English language.
  • An ability to convey excitement about the value of earth sciences to scholars and novices alike. The curator must be as comfortable with people as with minerals and be capable of introducing one to the other.

Full job description and details are available at https://ricenorthwestmuseum.org/contact/job-seekers/

TO APPLY: Please email your resume and cover letter to careers@ricenorthwestmuseum.org  or mail job materials to Julian C. Gray, Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks and Minerals, 26385 NW Groveland Drive, Hillsboro, Oregon 97124. Application materials must be received by October 8, 2018. No phone calls, please.

Hillsboro Tribune: Hillsboro’s Best 2017

Thank you for voting for the Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks and Minerals in the Hillsboro Tribune’s annual Hillsboro’s Best awards. We’re honored to receive the highest awards from readers of the Hillsboro Tribune in SIX categories! Thank you so much for naming the Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks & Minerals:

Gold:
2017 Hillsboro's Best Winners logo

  • Best Family Attraction
  • Best Place to Take the Kids
  • Best Place to Volunteer
  • Best Annual Event
    (Summer Festival)
  • Best Holiday Event
    (Thunder-Egg-Stravaganza)

Bronze:

  • Best Wedding Venue

The Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks and Minerals walked away with not one, not two, but six awards this year — five of them gold. Readers say they’re the best family attraction in town, hold the best summer and holiday events — their annual summer festival and Thunder Egg-Stravaganza are to die for — and are a great place to volunteer and, yes, even host a wedding.”

Check out the full list of “Hillsboro’s Best” here!

We’ve been bronzed!



GuideStar
is the world’s largest source of information on nonprofit organizations. We’ve taken ownership of our profile and have achieved bronze level participation

What that means is we’re starting the process of sharing who is involved in our museum, who supports us, and how we’re achieving our mission.

This helps us see how we measure up to other museums and share knowledge to help us all achieve our missions. It also helps our donors to see where their money is going and make informed gifts. Plus, we get this shiny badge to put on our website that lets everyone know we share that info!

We’re proud to have began this journey toward institutional transparency, and we’re not done here! We’re going for gold!

Veterans and Active Military receive FREE admission Veteran’s Day

To honor those who have or are serving in our nation’s military, the Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks an Minerals will admit all veterans and active military free of charge on Veteran’s Day (Friday, November 11, 2016).  We thank all the brave men and women who serve our country to preserve the freedoms we enjoy.

The museum will be open to the public regular business hours, which are 1:00 to 5:00 PM.  Please remember to bring your military ID with you.

Summer Fest August 6-7, 2016

Our annual Summer Fest 2016 will be at the Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks and Minerals Saturday and Sunday, August 6-7, 2016. This year will be bigger than ever! The hours are 10 AM – 5 PM. Admission is only $5, and kids 17 and under are FREE.

Geodes and other minerals and rocks for sale at vendor booth.The outdoor festival features a wide variety of rock, mineral, gem, and fossil dealers. We will have food, music, and plenty of fun family activities. Of course, our favorites Fred and Wilma Flintstone will be rolling in on the famous Flintmobile to give “rides” to children and adults.

Rock clubs from around the region will be offering wonderful educational displays, demonstrations, and activities.

The road construction is complete so you will have no problem finding your way through the new interchange at Highway 26 and Helvetia.

Come early and stay the whole day. The entire museum will be open during this event, so you can explore all our displays after browsing vendors’ tents and creating a “pet rock.” Bring a picnic lunch or enjoy the refreshments at the museum. It’s a perfect event to spend with friends and family. Bring them all!

2016_summerfest

Northwest and American Federation of Mineralogical Societies Event in Albany, Oregon

Precious gems and minerals on display in vendor's booth.Oregon state is privileged this year to be honored with the Northwest Federation of Mineralogical Societies Federation Show at the same time as the American Federation of Mineralogical Societies holds their region meeting in Albany, Oregon, July 29-31, 2016. The event is at the Linn County Fair Grounds and Expo Building just off I-5.

Presented by the Willamette Agate and Mineral Society, this year’s theme is “Treasures of the Northwest.”

Rarely do the two federations come together for a single event, so we are honored to have some of the best geologists, collectors, and rock hounds share their passion with so many in one place.

There will be over 200 display cases, and a vast variety of vendors, lectures, daily field trips to a local petrified wood locale, and a silent auction to help raise money for the group. The schedule (pdf) is packed for each day.

Some of the speakers’ topics include a learning about the fossils of Oregon and the Pacific Northwest, studying rocks from a microscopic view, learning more about the newly discovered thalattosaurs, coastal rockhounding, petrified wood, and more.

There are local hotels and campgrounds offering show discounts if you are heading for the full event.

The Rice Museum representatives will be there and we hope to see you there, too!

We need your help to #RockTheMuseum!

RTM-green

We’ve got great news—a generous donor has given us a matching grant challenge to raise funds for technology upgrades at the Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks and Minerals. Dr. Gene Meieran, an Intel Fellow and avid mineral collector, will match all public donations dollar-for-dollar up to $6000 to reach this goal by July 31, 2016.

Your contribution towards this challenge will go toward new computers and network systems critical for our daily operations, collections care, education, and outreach.

Every year, more than 10,000 school children from around Oregon and Washington tour the museum as part of their earth science programs. The museum also provides natural science outreach programs to over 30 schools and groups annually. Built in 1953 and incorporated as the Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks and Minerals in 1996, the museum is now a Smithsonian Affiliate and is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places.  It is also the #1 attraction to visit in Hillsboro, Oregon, according to TripAdvisor.

You helped make those things happen. But we still have more work to do.

We need your financial support now more than ever.

This exciting matching challenge is a launch pad for a series of micro-campaigns that will arise throughout the year to help revitalize and #RockTheMuseum. The challenge focuses on our highest priority of needs: technology upgrades.

Currently, the museum’s computers are way past their shelf life. We need to upgrade the technology, network, and Internet infrastructure to be more efficient and secure and to improve our educational programs.

Our museum’s mission is to engage, inspire, and educate generations on the splendor and complexity of our Earth. Whether you contribute $25 or $2500, your donation will help the Rice Museum stay on the leading edge of science education.

Donate today with PayPal, mail a check, drop one off, or contact Julian Gray at the museum by July 31 to ensure we meet our matching donation goal. The Rice Northwest Museum is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization and all contributions are tax-deductible.