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2023 Contest Results

 Selkirk Alliance for Science hosted a weekly online science trivia contest to test the scientific knowledge and information search skills by participants.  They were allowed to use Internet search engines or reference materials to find the answer.  We thank all participants who entered the contest, and hope that a new awareness about science will bring informed decisions in daily life.

Our purpose is to increase personal understanding of the nature, value, and integrity of science that can benefit all communities.  
No purchase was necessary for anyone to enter or win the contest, and the rewards could be entertaining, educational, and free science prizes.

Answers to the 2023 questions are provided below, so feel free to share with family, friends, and neighbors.


What tree species that is native to Pend Oreille County was recently listed as Threatened under the Federal Endangered Species Act?

Answer: Whitebark pine (Pinus albicaulis) was listed for federal protection as Threatened by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in December 2022. The species grows locally at the subalpine treeline or with other conifers just below the treeline in north County. Whitepine blister rust, mountain pine beetles, altered patterns of wildfire, and climate change are serious and cumulative threats to the species survival. Special rules within this listing allow for research, forest management, and restoration work on federal ownerships where otherwise prohibited. The ESA listing process for animals, plants, and other species is described here.

What date reported by the Bird Migration Dashboard experienced the largest number of birds flying southward at night over Pend Oreille County during the 2022 autumn migration? 

 Answer: On August 25, 2022, the estimated number of birds migrating between sunset to sunrise rose dramatically to 624,300 and stayed mostly high through the month of September. These estimates come from a new scientific tool named Birdcast Migration Dashboard, a collaboration of the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology, Colorado State University, Oregon State University, and University of Massachusetts Amherst. The data is derived from a nationwide network of weather surveillance radar stations and is reported for spring and autumn migrations.



A 2021 American Time Use Survey by the Bureau of Labor Statistics identifies the average hours per day spent in primary activities by the U.S. civilian population aged 15 years or older. What activity accounted for the lowest average number of hours per day in winter (Jan. - March)?

Answer: Homework/Research averaged only 0.26 hours (15.6 minutes) per day in the January – March quarter of that year. Watching television was the longest non-work activity (3.19 hr. or 191.4 minutes), followed by food preparation/cleaning (39.6 minutes), purchasing goods/services (35.4 minutes), and socializing/communicating (24.0 minutes). Participating in the Science Wiz Quiz is an entertaining way to increase your time spent researching factual information for everyday life.

The Washington Department of Ecology’s Inventory of Dams Report identifies 42 regulated dams in Pend Oreille County. How many of those are purposed for recreation?

Answer: Twenty-nine (69 percent) of regulated dams in Pend Oreille County are purposed for recreation, 8 for irrigation, 3 for fish and wildlife, 2 for flood control, and 1 for fire protection. The Inventory of Dam Report describes dam characteristics such as ownership, location, purpose, height, hazard classification, and other details.



The NOAA National Severe Storms Laboratory describes several types of lightning. What is the only one below that is not on that list?

Answer: Oh-My-Gosh lightning is not on the list for NOAA-NSSL types of lightning. Bolt of blue lightning is a cloud-to-ground lightning which starts inside a cloud, goes out the side of the storm, then travels horizontally away from the cloud before going to ground. Sheet lightning describes an intra-cloud flash embedded within a cloud that lights up as a sheet of luminosity during the flash. Intra-cloud lightning stays mostly within the clouds. Spider lightning refers to long, horizontally traveling flashes often seen on the underside of stratiform clouds.

What river-mile length of the Pend Oreille River is within the boundaries of Pend Oreille County?

Answer: There are 70 river-miles (RM 17–87) of the Pend Oreille River within Pend Oreille County. The river arises from Pend Oreille Lake in Idaho and runs northerly for about 130 milesthrough Washington to British Columbia and the Columbia River.



Gypsy Peak at 7,340 feet elevation is the highest mountaintop in Pend Oreille County. How many mountain peaks in Pend Oreille County are 6,000 feet or higher in elevation?

Answer: There are 29 mountain peaks at 6,000 feet or higher elevation in Pend Oreille County. Three peaks are above 7,000’, 67 are at least 5,000’, 109 are above 4,000’, and 176 are higher than 3,000’. The County has a total of 193 mountain peaks 2,300’ or higher in elevation

Only two of 455 Citizen Weather Observer Program (CWOP) stations in the state of Washington are located in Pend Oreille County. Which Pend Oreille County station is located at an elevation of 799.32 meters (2,622 feet)?


Answer: Station DW0151 near Sullivan Lake is highest in elevation at 799.32 meters (2,622 feet), while station N70KG near Rustler’s Gulch Wildlife Management Area is located at 757.65 meters (2,485 feet). The other three stations are not in Pend Oreille County. CWOP is a citizen science public-private partnership to collect weather data contributed by citizen volunteers and make that data available for weather services and homeland security. The National Transportation Safety Board, Kennedy Space Center, Weather Underground, and several universities are also beneficiaries. Check out volunteering details about CWOP at the SciStarter hub.


The Pollen Library lists 1,200 potentially allergenic plant species by county for occurrence and season of pollination. How many tree species listed for Pend Oreille County are severely allergenic in spring (March, April, May)?

Answer: There are 7 tree species in Pend Oreille County that are severely allergenic while pollinating in spring. They are: Crack willow (Salix fragilis), Geyer’s willow (Salix geyeriana), Gray willow (Salix bebbiana), MacKenzie’s willow (Salix prolixa), Scouler’s willow (Salix scouleriana), Sitka willow (Salix sitchensis), and Western poison-ivy (Toxicodendron rydbergii).


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