Students in ENVS 320, Environmental Solutions, arrive to a foggy and cool Columbia Slough, where Sheilagh and Nathaniel of the Columbia Slough Watershed Council introduce us to the site.
The Columbia Slough Watershed Council headquarters is located at Whitaker Ponds, now extensively restored from their previous state. Here's the dock at Whitaker Ponds.
The Slough has been cleaned up extensively since earlier days, but there are still a few treasures like these awaiting volunteers!
Nathaniel preps us for our kayak trip on the slough…
…and off we go!
We head up Whitaker Slough, which runs parallel to the main stem of the Columbia Slough.
We see plenty of birds on the slough, and some migrating fowl far above who remind us of the value of wetlands.
This dead fish reminded us that there's remarkably little evidence of pollution on or immediately adjacent to the Slough, though we constantly heard the hum of industry bumping up right against the channel, a reminder of the extensive transformation of the Slough since its original days as a floodplain to the Columbia.
Here we enter a natural spring pool feeding into the Slough.
The tunnel marked our terminus of adventure up Whitaker Slough (though some thought it adventuresome to try and paddle through!); soon we turned around to head back down.
Bored with this low-risk adventure, two of our students yearned for a more direct experience with the Slough, and got exactly what they wished for! Here Nathaniel helps them put the Slough back into the Slough (and out of their canoe).
We headed a bit further down the Slough, then back toward Whitaker Pond.
The final challenge was to get ourselves back up the rapids below the Whitaker Pond entrance! And we did it.
The low Slough water level at this time necessitated a creative means of getting in and out…but it worked.
And our newly outfitted adventurers are now ready for the rest of the day!
We had a number of stops on our field trip, but ended up at the former site of Vanport, a 1940s shipbuilding community that ended in a day when a dike broke in 1948. Now all that's left is this interpretive sign.
And here's what Vanport is now: Heron Lakes Golf Course. Such is the irony one meets at every stop along the Slough.