FLSRV heronFLSRV.org
  • 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.

  •   Search
    Welcome to the Friends of the Little Spokane River Valley

    Second Annual Hike With Jack Nisbet
    by Tina Wynecoop
    'Indians timed their way through the landscape,' explained author, naturalist, and historian Jack Nisbet as he led a group of sixteen friends of FLSRV on a four hour hike along the Spokane River at Riverside State Park between Nine Mile Falls and the mouth of Deep Creek. The hike took place in mid-May on a beautiful day.

    We, too, timed our way through the riverine landscape -- not gathering early spring plants for sustenance like the Interior Salish peoples - but learning from Jack the importance of these life-sustaining practices which carried the aboriginal people past winter hunger into spring. Our hike led us upstream to the one-lane bridge at the mouth of the creek.

    We found a shady place to stop and had the opportunity to ply Jack with more questions, including one about a small memorial stone nearby. 'Did you know who it was for?' 'No.' But then one of the women in the group quietly stated that it was placed there in memory of her deceased husband, also named Jack - a man who loved the outdoors.

    We took a trail which led up to a lookout with a gorgeous overview of the basalt outcrops, and then hiked down into the dry creek bed where fossils from the Miocene era could be found. Chokecherry bushes were abundant and our guide explained their importance as a food source. We know them to be astringent and tart -- the Indians knew to use them combined with other foods and to take tiny tastes rather than eating them like regular cherries. Nisbet shared the Kalispel Indian story which explained why the ubiquitous black, feces-like, stem-covering galls came to be on chokecherry bushes: Grizzly bear is greedy. He eats all the cherries and gets the runs. Lesson: Don't eat so fast.

    Certain other vegetation is prone to different galls which are caused either by micro-organisms, or else by insects depositing their eggs on host plant leaves or stems - creating swellings. Who knew that someone had written a field guide to galls? Jack carried one in his car's trunk 'library' along with many other field guides. Who knew that the likes of Thomas Jefferson and Lewis and Clark wrote in their journals with ink derived from galls? Jack explained that it was the tannin in galls which helped make ink flow.

    The group learned so much on this outing. Thoughtful questions were asked which sent Jack off on tangents and we were all willing to follow with him. Four hours went by too quickly. Fortunately we can go on multiple 'hikes' with Jack by reading his many wonderful books (titles can be found on his website: jacknisbet.com.

    Currently he and his wife, Claire, are creating a new MAC museum exhibit about botanist, explorer David Douglas. It opens this September. David Douglas is the subject of Jack's most recent book, The Collector. And it was David Douglas' presence accompanying us as we learned to look deeply into what the landscape can tells us.

    Jack's next book is about to go to publication. When an author writes about an indomitable man who graced our region in 1825 and impacted horticulture internationally, it serves as a magnet for new material needing a sequel. Interesting reading is ahead; to learn more about the man who explored our region in the 1820's, check out David Douglas' A Naturalist at Work. to be published in November 2012.

    Wished you had come on this hike? Perhaps there will be a third annual hike. He suggested we might enjoy walking 'Knothole trail' which he would be happy to lead in mid-May 2013.

    Gratitude goes to FLSRV board member Harla Jean Biever for organizing this tour. And, also to Jack Nisbet, who always makes the natural, historical and cultural features of our region come alive.

    © 2009 - 2019 Friends of the Little Spokane River Valley