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About Appeal tribune. (Silverton, Or.) 1999-current | View Entire Issue (June 30, 2021)
| WEDNESDAY, JUNE 30, 2021 | 1B
Trail is a wonderland of
wildﬂowers in Willamette Valley
Special to Salem Statesman Journal
USA TODAY NETWORK
n my years as a nature educator, I’ve had children ask me
some great questions. Kids wonder about everything
from Why is the sky blue? to Where does sand come
from? Every year during wildﬂower season, I think of a
group of second graders who joined me years ago for a nature
hike in Salem’s Bush’s Pasture Park. A little girl named Marta
held my right hand while her classmate David grasped my left.
As we walked, Marta asked why plants have ﬂowers. Before I
could take advantage of this teachable moment, David said, So
they can make seeds and grow new plants. He was spot on!
Our group spent the next 20 minutes investigating the fawn lilies on
the east side of the park – noticing their petals and pollen and discussing
how insects pollinate ﬂowers as they search for nectar. I recall how each
child reverently cupped a blossom with gentle hands and pretended to
pollinate the ﬂower with a soft touch of the nose. I feel that same child-
like joy each time I hike a wildﬂower-lined trail in the woods. A wonderful
place for this is the Brice Creek Trail, not far from Cottage Grove in the
southern Willamette Valley.
An almost imperceptible mist falls as my friends and I leave the paved
road at a bridge over Brice Creek. The trail, part of which follows the origi-
nal route traveled by 19th-century gold miners on their way to mines in
the surrounding hills, parallels the north side of the creek. Some people
still pan for gold in this section of Brice Creek, but we see no fortune seek-
ers this morning, only a series of green pools interrupted by rocky rapids.
Bunches of Oregon iris, arrayed like perfect bouquets, grow in dappled
light near the trail. We stop to admire one of the ﬂowers up close: three
pale petals stand upright, surrounded by three wider downward-arching
sepals (petal-like structures); all are the color of fresh cream. Dark red
lines embellish the sepals. Called nectar guides, these lines point visiting
insects toward nectar in the ﬂower’s center.
Pollinating insects can’t sense the nectar they crave until their taste
receptors make contact with the sugary liquid. Flowers assist the insects
See BRICE CREEK, Page 3B
Hatcheries are a great place to visit
I’ve been to a wondrous place recently
where the trout are as long as your arm.
It was the ﬁrst opportunity to visit
since the beginning of Oregon’s pan-
demic restrictions, and you can go there,
More than a year after the imposition
of the lockdown in March 2020, Oregon
Department of Fish and Wildlife hatch-
eries are open to public visits.
Until the ban was lifted June 18, only
ﬁshing-access parking was allowed at
state hatcheries such as South Santiam
just east of Sweet Home, Cedar Creek
near Hebo and Salmon River near Otis.
“We were always open for ﬁshing, just
not for visitors,” said Michelle Dennehy,
the department’s communications coor-
The grand reopening does come with
a few caveats, and a few exceptions.
Group tours and visits by large groups
aren’t being oﬀered. And some facilities
such as picnic areas, drinking fountains,
the interiors of hatchery buildings and
outdoor areas too small to allow for so-
cial distancing remain oﬀ-limits at
hatcheries open to the public.
Klamath Hatchery near Chiloquin
and Rock Creek Hatchery in Idleyld Park
remain closed because of ﬁre damage,
and the Trask River Hatchery is closed
temporarily for construction.
But for hatcheries newly open for visi-
tors, the ﬁsh are on full display in all of
their colorful, speckled glory, from trout
as long as your arm (or at least a kid’s
arm) to clouds and swarms of smaller ju-
venile salmon and steelhead.
“It’s nice to have visitors back so they
can enjoy the hatcheries,” said Tyler Le-
bard, the manager at Roaring River
Hatchery near Scio.
Lebard, clad in chest waders, was in
the process of doing the regular Monday
cleaning of the runs and raceways at the
“We don’t have a ton of visitors right
oﬀ the start. I don’t know if people real-
ize that it’s open yet,” he added. “I think
it will slowly pick up, especially during
the summer season. I’d say the bulk of
the visitors come during the summer.”
See MILLER, Page 3B