Located at the recently-restored Saltese Flats Wetland Area in Spokane Valley, the new Doris Morrison Learning Center (DMLC) will celebrate a grand opening event on Earth Day 2023(Saturday, April 22). Once drained for farming, Spokane County restored the Saltese Flats back into a healthy and productive wetland. As part of that restoration work, the Doris Morrison Learning Center was built to provide a new location for outdoor environmental education for kids to learn about wetlands, as well as an interpretive center for the whole community. The grand opening event, which runs from 10 a.m.-2 p.m., will have live raptor shows, activities for kids, guided bird walks, over a dozen free activity booths, and more.
The Doris Morrison Learning Center is a valuable addition to Spokane County’s Water Education Program. That program provides locally-relevant water education to classrooms across the region in an effort to promote the need to take care of our Spokane Valley-Rathdrum Prairie Aquifer and the Spokane River. The learning center will have tables, a lab space, a covered patio, interpretive signage, taxidermy bird species, and walking trails that lead to the wetlands. Students will do actual field science outside but have a warm building to shelter in during bad weather, along with bathroom facilities and drinking water.
The new learning center will make field trips for students to learn about wetland restoration first-hand easier for teachers and students. “We hope to build relationships with local school districts so that nearly all students can visit the center on a field trip at some point in their K-12 education,” says Laura Goff, water resource specialist with Spokane County. “Students will learn about wetlands, ecological restoration, and why it’s important we take care of our environment—especially water. Our hope is that the DMLC will become one of the most memorable and treasured environmental field trip locations in our area.”
Goff emphasizes how important it is for kids to have fun in the outdoor elements—getting muddy, looking at bugs, examining soil types, and doing water sampling. “Mostly, we want them to have fun doing environmental science! We hope that as youth, families and community members of all ages visit our facility that they will feel connected to nature as they learn about their own relationship to the environment,” Goff says. The Saltese Wetland restoration is a successful example of how humans have helped heal the environment, says Goff. “Our hope is that this will be a transformational lesson that inspires lifelong environmental stewardship.”
Pay a visit to the Doris Morrison Learning Center and the Saltese Wetland at the grand opening April 22 or any time after that at 1330 South Henry Road in Spokane Valley. More info at Spokanecounty.org/DMLC.