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Nature lovers flock to bird festivals

OUTDO – Organized outings and access to experts are among the benefits of visiting festivals celebrating the arrival of migrating birds. Two notables in this region include:

Tundra Swan Day in Usk, March 20, starting 10 a.m. at Kalispel Camas Center, coinciding with the annual migration of swans through Stevens and Pend Oreille counties. Preregister for bus shuttle to view swans. Cost: $10 adults, $5 youths under 13, includes lunch.

Info:; (509) 447-5286.

Sandhill Crane Festival in Othello, March 26-28, with a wide range of birding and nature tours, wildlife programs, bicycle tours, a banquet and speakers coinciding with arrival of roughly 25,000 sandhill cranes. Note several pre-festival crane and burrowing owl “scouting tours” offered on March 20-21.

Preregister for activities: (866) 726-3445 or www.othellosandhillcrane

Grim welcome for tundra swans

OUTCRY – Thousands of tundra swans migrating through the region in March will make a pit stop at wetlands along the “chain lakes” of the lower Coeur d’Alene River.

At least 150 of them are not likely to survive the visit.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service surveys indicate that migrating swans die each spring, as they have for decades, while feeding on aquatic plants’ rooted toxic mining waste.

Efforts to clean up the Silver Valley’s century of mining waste are slow and expensive. Meantime, state and federal wildlife agencies are trying to provide a few safer alternatives for waterfowl, such as flooding uncontaminated hay fields for their stopovers.

The peak number swans visit the Chain Lakes over just a few days in mid- to late-March.

The Coeur d’Alene Audubon Society is leading a full-day waterfowl watching trip in the chain lakes area on Saturday.

Info: (208) 664-1085.

Spokane conference tackles river issues

What: Spokane River Forum.

When: March 22-23.

Where: Centerplace Regional Event Center 2426 N. Discovery Place in Spokane Valley.

Who: Scientists, policy makers and advocates will engage in updates and panel discussions of wide range of river topics and issues, primarily for agencies and groups of special interest.

Locals who don’t have an employer or sponsor to pay the $75 conference fee can apply for a scholarship.

The final afternoon is devoted to developing ideas on a Spokane River water trail.

Info: www.spokane

Friends needed for Centennial Trail

OUTBID –With goals of building a safer Mission Street crossing and completing a route west of Riverfront Park, the Friends of the Centennial Trail are holding a fundraising banquet and auction on March 19 at Northern Quest Resort and Casino in Airway Heights.

Tickets, $40, include dinner and a drink. Auction items include rafting trips, VIP dinners and trail tours, gear and more.

Preregister: (509) 448-8724 or

Souper results

OUTSTANDING – The 245 participants in the Feb. 7 Women’s Souper Bowl at Mount Spokane skied, snowshoed, dined and raised $9,300 for the Women’s and Children’s Free Restaurant, organizers report.

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