It Started With a Turtle: UDEA

August 31, 2016

In September 2015, a group of community members met to discuss the potential of recreating a wetland at the site of Lake Arthur. Originally a mill pond, Lake Arthur was converted into a recreational and reflective area for the Gonzaga community.

The surrounding steep embankments and threat of run-off from the nearby sports facility lead to an ecological concern, however. One of the native species, Chrysemys picta the painted turtle, is in danger of losing its habitat due to a lack of riparian zone.

The collective awareness arose that this problem of diminishing riparian zones and a threat of decreased ecological function encompassed the whole river corridor within the University District. Thus, a vision was founded to create an organization of community members and members within the University District to raise awareness of the ecological importance of the river corridor and promote conservation within the area.

Since this group is based out of the University District, we promote education and student involvement through facilitating student projects that promote a healthy river ecology. Overall, our vision is for the Spokane River in the U-District and beyond to become an interactive, thriving river community that is an asset to the urban and rural character of Spokane.

The UDEA project is intended to be a resource for students and to empower them to take on their own conservation projects within the river corridor by utilizing UDEA partnerships with community members. Not only would the UDEA be aiding in student involvement, but our hope is to facilitate an alliance of student collaboration across the schools within the University District. The UDEA has the ability to provide a data platform which would act as both a resource and output center for the students and community to access.

Why is this valuable? By creating a shared data source, it promotes innovation and conversation about the current state of our river corridor. Education is the key to consciousness-raising.

With these two key aspects of education and consciousness raising, we hope that the students can fit in the last piece of the puzzle which involves actual conservation projects.

Special thanks to RBC Blue Water Foundation for supporting the UDEA project.

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