For the third year in a row, Westside Elementary has partnered with Columbia Riverkeeper to help second-graders get hands-on education in Nichols Basin on the Hood River waterfront.

On the morning of Oct. 7, Riverkeeper employees and teachers Beth Hoezee and Brittney Bauer guided the youngsters through activities and tour of the natural area at the south end of Nichols Basin. Today, it’s a popular recreation area, but it was formerly an industrial site that Riverkeeper, working with Port of Hood River, has worked for the last three years to revitalize as habitat.

“It’s just kind of a cool culminating extension of their studies of the power of water,” Hoezee said.

The Westside second graders are just some of the more than 700 students to visit the Nichols Natural Area this year.

Riverkeeper Water Quality Director Lorri Epstein, Community Organizer Ubaldo Hernandez and Dave Berger, a volunteer, led groups through activities relating to different aspects of the watershed; in the afternoon, Columbia Riverkeeper Director Brett VandenHeuvel led an erosion experiment at the Marina Beach, near the north end of the basin. 

“We love helping students and community members connect with the river and see how imagination and the power of community are transforming this once overlooked space,” Epstein said.

Help at Nichols Oct. 19

The community has another opportunity on Oct. 19 to help out in the same way.

Riverkeeper’s fall work party at Nichols Natural Area runs  from 9 a.m. to noon.

Help replant the site with native species to restore the Nichols Natural Area into thriving riparian habitat.

Hot drinks and donuts will be provided, followed by planting native trees and shrubs. Volunteers will have a chance to win raffle items donated by Sucaro bags and Rep Your Water hats. Tools and supplies provided.

The location is Nichols Natural Area, 1 Nichols Parkway, Hood River, just southwest of Event Site. (Remember that daytime paid parking is in place on port-controlled streets. Free parking is available west on Second Avenue and in the small lot next to Sinclair gas station.)

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