Saltese Lake? Where is that?

July 1, 2020

Imagine the days when thousands of birds would fly up the Spokane River Corridor, circle the thousand-acre Saltese Flat marshes, and settle in for a spring feast during their great migrations.

That scenario dwindled abruptly over a century ago, but the future looks promising indeed for its return. In the June 23rd “Zoom with a View: Saltese Flats Restoration with Ducks Unlimited,” Chris Bonsignore, Manager of Conservation Programs with Ducks Unlimited, explained the collaborative efforts to restore Saltese Flats to its former glory. This potential wetland wonderland is just west of Liberty Lake, Washington at the base of Mica Peak.

With the help of a grant from the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office, the Conservancy, Ducks Unlimited, and Spokane County Environmental Services are together protecting and restoring the vast marshes. Central Valley School District and Spokane Community College are also involved. What is now a thick mass of Reed Canary Grass will once again become a lush wetland habitat for birds and animals. The area will benefit eagles, hawks, falcons, swans, moose, elk, ducks, and much more. It is particularly important habitat for amphibians, at risk from climate change. Viewers can see it by following Henry Road.

The area was originally an historic lake, Lake Saltese, named for Chief Andrew Saltese (or Seltice) of the Coeur d’Alene Tribe. However, beginning in the 1890s the lake was drained for agriculture. The marshes vanished. Invasive Reed Canary Grass took over.

Now, the future looks bright. Ducks Unlimited and the County will restore the area, beginning with water management techniques planned to mimic natural flooding, which will suffocate the Reed Canary Grass. Long-dormant native seeds will emerge, repopulating the rich wetland. Projects are already starting. The Conservancy will hold a conservation agreement on some of the land, to allow for permanent protection of this incredible wildlife sanctuary. For more information, click here.

Thanks to Chris Bonsignore for this educational, inspiring, and engaging Zoom presentation! You can watch it by clicking on the link below.

Stay tuned for the next INLC Zoom presentation. On July 15th Ray Entz of the Kalispel Tribe will discuss wildfire.