Nature Study Areas Are Everywhere

The McNary Environmental Education Center offers
hands-on science activities
for school aged children
and workshops to assist adults in understanding
the interdependency of plants and animals
in various habitats

Your Own Backyard
Close to home is a place to search for plant and animal habitats. Look under leaves and inside blossoms for insect eggs or feeding hatchlings. Watch robins pull angleworms from the lawn. Ants "farm" aphids by planting them on leaves and stroking them for the sweet liquid. Butterfly or other insect eggs may be found during spring and summer. In preparation for overwintering butterfly chrysalis might be found under leaves at the base of plants or in bark of trees. Butterflies and bees pollinate flowers which add beauty to backyards. Worms and beetles are nature's recyclers. They turn dead leaves into soil.

Flowering plants we cultivate for backyard beauty sometimes can be destructive when planted in wetlands and waterways. Phragmites fills in ponds quite rapidly because of its prolific cloning -- a method of reproducing plants from root shoots. Purple loosestrife also is destructive in our wetlands. Loosestrife attracts butterflies and humming birds but is now banned from sale by nurseries in Washington state. However gardeners share roots with friends and neighbors without understanding its status as an invasive noxious weed which threatens wetlands by overgrowing and snuffing out water surfaces.

Nearby Parks, Playgrounds, Ditches, or Riversides
Open space left to sun, rain and natural elements will be "home" to insects and animals on the plants that manage to survive there. Often the blooms on weeds are attractive in bouquets, some very appealing in dried bouquets. Untended areas will be "home" to small mammals that are fed upon by larger mammals and birds.

Natural Public Areas
Kennewick has a self-guided nature trail in the park along the Columbia River, called the Audubon Nature Trail (ANT). Pasco has Sacajawea State Park on the confluence of the Snake and Columbia Rivers where Meriwether Lewis and William Clark camped in October 1805 during their Journey of Discovery for President Thomas Jefferson. Richland has Chamna Nature Preserve between the Yakima River and I-82 accessible by foot only to some habitat areas.

McNary National Wildlife Refuge in Burbank boasts an Environmental Education Center (MEECe) with hands-on science activities for school classes that reserve space several weeks in advance.

McNary pond from trail An hour's walk on the mile long self-guided trail at McNary NWR reveals habitats of the wetlands and shrub steppe.
causeway to Bateman Island Audubon guides do a bird walk for the public on Bateman Island the first Saturday of each month at 8 am.


Naomi Sherer