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  • To preserve and sustain the unique character of the Little Spokane River Valley, including it's open space and natural setting.
  • To maintain lower density zoning.
  • To protect the area's ecosystem including water quality, wetlands, priority habitat and wildlife, and dwindling native vegetation.
  • To encourage the development of area parks and natural areas.
  • To educate public officials of the concerns of the Friends of the Little Spokane River Valley, and be pro-active when major issues are at the forefront.

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    Welcome to the Friends of the Little Spokane River Valley

    Walking Tour Review
    by Tina Wynecoop
    Illustration by Emily Nisbet

    In June award winning naturalist, historian, author and teacher Jack Nisbet led an all day walking tour of the Little Spokane area from the Painted Rocks to the Spokane House Interpretive Center at the confluence of the Little Spokane and Spokane Rivers. The history of explorer David Thompson?s Spokane House (1810) in the newly updated interpretive center is first rate.

    Just off a ways from the site of the Spokane House Jack pointed out the fast flowing Spokane (Skeetshoo) River and said that it looked much like the way the explorer described it in his journals two hundred years ago. A light rain did not deter the group from following the author into the nearby open pine woods where he stood next to a large thatched ant mound and explained its importance to local tribes for food storage [which he related in his January 2007 article titled Pismires, in North Columbia Monthly Magazine]:

    The mound-building Formica ants [pismires] are familiar to anyone who has spent time outside in our region, and anyone who has bent close to one knows that they can produce a pretty sharp sting. If you pick up one ant by the back and hold it to your face, it will also give you a faint spray of formic acid, citrus smelling and not at all unpleasant. For untold ages Columbia Basin tribes have used natural depressions in rockslides below basalt cliff faces to store food. These talus pits kept the goods cool and protected in hot summer weather, but could be prone to visits by mischievous pack rats and coyotes. Such raids were discouraged by taking handfuls of the thatch from an abandoned ant mound and spreading it around the pit. The thatch would be infused with formic acid, an odor that announced its presence to everyone in the vicinity. And all the creatures of the forest, desert, and mountains, from the smallest mouse to the most insensitive human, know that the last creature you want to mess with is little Ant.

    We learned to recognize geo-graphical features shaped by the Ice Age Flood in this landscape; native and non-native plants were described. Birds and insects were noted. He taught how to determine the general age of ponderosa pine trees and explained the importance of the yellow pine?s sweet cambium layer as a food source for tribes. The shelf bracken (conk) he found on the ground became a lesson in how the Indians transported hot coals while journeying from one place to another thanks to the fungus? unique design. The Salish word for this bracken is holds the fire.

    I could go on and on, but you get the picture. It was a rich day of learning in a cultural, geographical, natural and historical setting. Special thanks to our FLSRV treasurer, Harla Jean Biever, for conceiving and planning this walking tour guided by a generous and knowledgeable teacher named Jack Nisbet.

    Illustration by Emily Nisbet

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