WyEast Blog: First Year Reflections

Mount Hood on a magical afternoon above McNeil Point last August, one of my photo-trek highlights of the year

November marks the one-year anniversary of the WyEast Blog, so I will indulge with a few reflections on the blog and how I intend to carry it forward as part of the larger Mount Hood National Park Campaign.

The unifying theme is the national park campaign, and blog has, indeed, had a significant impact on traffic at the main website (which was also revamped in late 2008, in tandem with the start-up of the blog). This was the primary objective in starting the blog, so I’m pleased with the response thus far.

For the first several months, I didn’t advertise the blog at all — but it slowly picked up readers as the scope of articles became evident. From the beginning, the blog was designed in a magazine format, with lots of images and topics ranging from science, history and recreation to politics and commentary.

By mid-year, the site was logging about 200 views per month, but in July I posted a link to the site from my PortlandHikers.org signature, and the resulting boost in traffic is evident (see chart, above). The blog has been recording more than 300 views per month since. I was a bit anxious about taking this step, since I have been fairly low-key about the Mount Hood National Park project in my work with Portland Hikers, but the response has been very positive.

I had planned to write 3-4 articles per month when I started the blog, and have settled closer to three per month, with a total of 34 articles published since the first post. One surprise has been the response to individual articles. There seems to be no rhyme nor reason to the topics that are interesting to others (all of them are interesting to me, naturally!), though the most popular topics are an encouraging mix of natural and cultural history topics and more challenging policy critiques that I didn’t expect to resonate with readers.

The top article on the list was the Parkdale Lava Flow piece, and I admit, this comes as a bit of a surprise. As a geoscientist by training, the lava flow is of great interest to me, but I’m excited to find that others are equally intrigued by this little-known spectacle. That bodes well for its protection, and perhaps even improved public access for adventuresome visitors.

The many visits to the two-part article on the Boundary Clear Cut were also a pleasant surprise, and underscore the ongoing interest in federal forest policy — the Fire Forests of the Cascades article also ranked well in views, for example.

The article that drew the most commentary was a bold call to decommission The Dalles Dam and restore Celilo Falls. The contributors were particularly thoughtful and articulate in sharing their own ideas for realizing this vision, and they reaffirmed my own belief that big ideas are a necessary avenue to achieving environmental reforms and building public consensus for change (and thus the Mount Hood National Park Campaign).

Things to Come

In the coming year, I will continue to publish topical articles related to Mount Hood and the Columbia Gorge, and have at least 50 topics in various states of research and development. My early concern that I would somehow run out of new and interesting topics is no longer, as each article I’ve written has spawned a couple others.

I will also be spotlighting some of the Mount Hood National Park concepts a bit more in the coming year, in the spirit of getting those “big ideas” out there, and stimulating an outside-the-box look at an area we all love and want to protect and restore.

Thanks to all for reading the blog over the past year — thanks for putting up with my periodic typos and run-on sentences, and thanks for the personal comments and encouragement along the way. I’ll do my best to continue to improve the site in the years to come!

Tom Kloster
WyEast Blog

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