CONSERVATION -- My Sunday Outdoors feature story focused on the Colville Fish Hatchery and how it's been transformed into a science classroom for the area's high school students.
But it can't be overemphasized that the hatchery Stevens County acquired from the Washington Fish and Wildlife Department came with 19.4 acres surrounding the springs that form the headwaters of Colville Creek -- another natural laboratory for the students.
They've barely scratched the surface of the area's potential, sampling variety of aquatic insects that trout need when they're weened off the fish feed and putting out trail cams to monitor the deer -- and cougars -- that wander through the little preserve that's nestled in a Colville neighborhood.
Kathy Ahlenslager, Colville national Forest botanist, had this observation of the property:
The site has patiently waited for a group to care for it. For 19 acres in town it's diverse with at least 142 plant species in 42 families, including two rare ones: giant helliborine orchid (Epipactis gigantea) and bristly sedge (Carex comosa). And every weed from this area! First on the list will be to tame the Virginia creeper on the cedars and the rampant hounds tongue!
Indeed, Jono Esvelt, forestry and wildlife instructor and hatchery manager for the school district, will be having students clip and bag the hounds tongue plants in a long-term plan to reduce the amount of seed they scatter on the landscape.
You say you don't know what hounds tongue is?
I guess you don't have a long-haired bird dog.