NORTH COUNTY – The Oroville and Tonasket Chambers of Commerce are sponsoring a Watchable Wildlife Weekend from May 23 to May 25 with a full schedule of opportunities to enjoy the flora and fauna of Okanogan County.
Friday, May 23
The weekend begins the evening of Friday, May 23 with “The Best Dam Tour in Oroville.” The Porters will be giving rides from Lake Osoyoos Veterans Memorial State Park down the Okanogan River to Zosel’s dam aboard their family party boat. They promise views of beaver dams, waterfowl and other interesting sights along the way. The boat will then return to the park. Departure times will be announced next week.
Saturday, May 24
The next day, Saturday, May 24, starting at 8 a.m. there is the Forde Lake Narrated Nature Hike. Participants are asked to join Dale and Kathy Swedberg as they team up to discuss the flora and fauna calling the Sinlahekin Wildlife Area home. This is a one-mi1e hike at a snail’s pace between Conner and Forde Lakes. The Swedbergs will lead the hike and discuss wildflowers, butterflies, birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians of the area.
Dale Swedberg, manager of the wildlife area, will talk about fire ecology, ponderosa pine forest and management and the history of the area. The hike presents a great opportunity to see the bird blind and put it in use.
The hike is on uneven ground with some short, steep, uphill climbs and the scenery is second to none, according to Swedberg, who will also answer questions about the new trails in this area.
To find the Sinlahekin Wildlife Area go south out of Loomis (6.5 miles) or north out of Conconully (15 miles) on the Sinlahekin Road to Forde Lake.
From 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. there will be Educational Booths at the Molson Grange with the theme Reduce/Reuse/Recycle! Molson Grange Auxiliary will also have a huge flea market with breakfasts and lunches available in Molson Grange Hall with wildlife-related booths and information.
From 9 a.m. to noon a “Wildlife for Youth Drawing Contest” with artist Marsha Bell takes place at the Oroville Farmer’s Market on Main Street at Public Library. Youth 18 and under are invited to the to participate in a contest to draw and color wildlife and wildflowers. Ideas will be available at the Library. Age categories will be identified for participants upon registration. Participation is free (donations accepted) and prizes will be awarded for winners in each age group. The Gazette-Tribune will also be printing small versions of selected artwork for each age group. To donate prizes for our young artists call Ellie at 476-3121.
At 1 p.m. the Okanogan Valley Land Council will present the Sharp Tailed Grouse Project with an on-site fieldtrip to the end of the Poland China Mine road near Canada. Jim Olson, Manager of the Chesaw Wildlife Area, will present information in the field about the sharp-tailed grouse — its behavior, range, habitat needs and current status. Information about the nearby Chesaw Wildlife Area and opportunities there for the public will also be provided.
The OVLC will show the restoration project on the property carried out in 2007 to enhance habitat for the grouse. Resources and information about what landowners in general can do to restore and/or enhance wildlife habitat on private lands will be presented and made available to participants. For those who wish to roll up their sleeves, there will be the opportunity at the end of the formal presentation to help with replanting in the habitat enhancement area. Take Chesaw Road east of Oroville nine miles, left on Molson Road four miles, then right on Mary Ann Creek Road. Follow signs to the turn off.
Saturday evening will be another ride down the river for The Best Dam Tour in Oroville. Departure times are still to be determined.
Sunday, May 25
On Sunday, May 25, starting at 9 a.m. there is Introduction to Birding at Sidley Lake (near Molson). Carmen Kinley will discuss waterfowl and migratory birds of the Highlands. Sidley Lake is home to a nesting pair of Bald Eagles. This region has birds from lower British Columbia, Canada and upper Washington. The waterfowl and mountain birds are in abundance. Participants are advised to bring their binoculars, camera and a billed hat. Fishing is excellent for the non-birding partner.
Then, from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. an Introduction to Mountain Wildflowers at Eden Valley Guest Ranch will be presented. The wildflowers start blooming in March and continue through July. Bobby Hacket leads this tour on foot, which is about one mile at a snail’s pace, say organizers. Some wildflowers participants might see include: balsam, lupine, sedum, Pussy Toes (pink clusters like the bottom of kitty feet), Shooting Star, Buttercup, Violet, Scarlet Gilia, Fireweed, Cinquefoil, Larkspur, Wild Roses, Yarrow, Penstamin, Paint Brush, Broadia Lilly, Knickknack, Thimbleberry, Pink Fireweed. The tour site is 10 miles east of Oroville on Chesaw Road or 20 miles northeast of Tonasket on Havillah Road and Dry Gulch.
Later that day, from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. there will be the Beaver and Beth Lake Wildflower Tour. Follow Bobby Hacket to Beaver Canyon for a slow hike to discover wildflowers and shrubs at a higher and cooler climate. Look for the elusive Calypso Lily, also known as Lady Slipper.