Living in the northwest, we have the privilege to be near mountains. They play an important role in our lives, even if we’re not always aware of it. Mountains are a factor in our climate, resources, and crops. In the summer, the snow melt provides us with a source of water. Our mountains cast a rain shadow on the east side of the state, which allows for crop-growing temperatures. Rain shadows occur when mountains split an area into two, one closer to sea and one more inland. As winds come inland and travel up the mountains, the wind loses it moisture as it goes up the mountain causing dry air once it’s over the mountains. This is why Seattle is so rainy and places like Yakima are so dry and can grow crops.
Our production and use of goods and the resulting waste threatens the sustainability of our resources and thus our planet. We are causing the climate to change because of our greenhouse gas production. As the climate in our area gets warmer, it becomes dryer year after year, leading to a decrease in rain and snow. The decrease of snow on mountain tops means less fresh water for us.
Our mountains house ecosystems that provide habitat for a variety of species. Conserving our mountains is important for these species to survive. Using mountain resources at a rate that is sustainable means giving resources enough time to replenish before we go back for more to fish, hunt, and log.
Mountains are also a resource as recreational areas. We can go skiing, climbing, hiking, and camping in them. We have to protect our mountains not only through recycling and reusing, but through proper disposal of our trash. Littering harms the mountain and the species that call it home. Be conscious that you are a visitor to other species’ home.
You can help our mountains by reducing, recycling, and reusing. Be aware of your trash both at home and while visiting the outdoors. Join the effort on International Mountain Day on December 11 to increase our other and others’ mountain awareness.