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Helpers give boost to natural area trails

Sun., April 11, 2010, 1:02 a.m.

Group continues legacy preserving Dishman Hills

The Dishman Hillls Natural Area is proof that group efforts starting from humble beginnings can have a lasting outdoor legacy for generations to come.

Around 150 volunteers are expected to devote the morning of April 24 to a major maintenance project, which follows in the footsteps of a loosely organized hike that attracted more than 75 people in the spring of 1966.

Since the Dishman Hills Natural Area Association purchased the first 80 acres of the Spokane Valley wild lands in 1967, the group’s protected area has grown to more than 500 acres, combining with state- and county-protected lands that bring protection to a total of about 1,300 acres.

The group continues to solicit donations in the effort to protect several more areas and perhaps establish a protected corridor from the buzz of Appleway Boulevard south to Tower Mountain.

Individuals, families and groups can join the annual Buttercup Hike on Saturday followed April 24 by the effort to clean up the popular area and plant trees in portions of the hills consumed by wildfire two years ago.

“Several groups have already stepped up to take on specific jobs,” said Joshua Hess of REI, which is coordinating the service project. “We encourage people to sign up online so we can help organize the groups, but we’ll be ready to assign a job to everyone who shows up that day.”

The concept of a natural area preserve in the heart of the Spokane Valley was a hit from the beginning.

On that sunny March day 44 years ago, a throng followed high school science teacher Tom Rogers and Helen Liniger for a stroll among the buttercups and other harbingers of spring. The hike was the unofficial founding of the Dishman Hills Natural Area Association.

“Their dream was to save the area’s unique ecology and geology for future generations,” said Michael Hamilton, president of the association since 1992. The dream was wildly successful, giving countless people the privilege to walk through, study, enjoy and be inspired by this mini-wilderness in the city.

Association members continue to shepherd the area, attempting to educate the public on the need to keep dogs leashed and thwarting vandalism and looking for ways to install tamper-proof trail signs.

The area is popular with area schools for nature studies.

Contact: To contribute and learn more about the group’s activitiescheck out the Dishman Hills Natural Area Association,

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