History of the WNARS Project
A group of native Rhododendron species enthusiasts from Washington State formed the Western North American Rhododendron Species Project in the summer of 1995. Members of this new group rediscovered a population of the Pacific rhododendron (Rhododendron macrophyllum) in the Cascade Mountains that had not been seen in over 30 years. A large amount of data on Rhododendron has been compiled over the years by Rhododendron enthusiasts, government agencies, universities, etc. However, this knowledge was diffused among these different entities and not readily accessible to anyone. WNARSP members decided to begin gathering this knowledge, particularly location information, and create maps showing where these fascinating plants grow. Hence, the mission of the Project is to research and identify all locations of the indigenous Rhododendron species of the western United States and Canada and create a computerized archive of this information.
Gathering the information using modern technology.
Under the auspices of the Rhododendron Species Foundation, Project members meet monthly at the Foundation library. With funds from grants and individual donations, the Project purchased computer hardware and software to begin creating a database of information. A data collection form was created for those interested in collecting location information on populations in their local areas. For extremely accurate location data the Project purchased a Global Positioning System receiver. In the autumn of 1997 a student intern was hired to help accelerate the input of data into the computer archive. The location data will be used to create maps showing the areas where the native species are found. The collected information will be made available to anyone seeking knowledge about the native rhododendrons of western North America.
Sharing the knowledge
The WNARS Project endeavors to spread the knowledge through their website, Magazine and newsletter articles, and custom maps for researchers.
If you are interested in joining the WNARSP or would like more information, please contact the Rhododendron Species Foundation via e-mail or call (253) 838-4646.