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Feature: Protecting old-gowth temperate rainforests could be important part of climate change action

OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK, U.S. — Walking along Barnes Creek amid towering old-growth hemlock, red cedar and Douglas fir, Dominick DellaSala points to the lichen, hanging thick like Spanish moss from the limbs shading our path.

“Take a deep breath,” he tells me. “Smell that?” The smell is crisp and refreshing, a lush green scent in late July on the Olympic Peninsula. “Lichens are the canary in the coal mine for clean air. Here, all this lichen is telling us we’re in a good air shed. They thrive in this clean air. So do a lot of other species as a result.”

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