What makes the Little Spokane River so healthy?

Keeping a river clean isn’t easy. A river is clean only when all the branches of nature work together in harmony to keep it that way. And it’s all the more difficult when the river is recovering from years of industrial occupation. Did you know the land you’re standing on used to be a dairy farm? It doesn’t look that way now, but one hundred years ago, those bountiful ponderosa stands and mammoth black cottonwoods would have been cleared away to make room for grazing land.

This is why Waikiki Springs–and the Little Spokane River that runs through it–are a stewardship success story! Here, the Little Spokane is healing, nurtured by a steady babble of clear, cool water straight from the Spokane Valley Rathdrum Prairie Aquifer. Active land use and management strategies developed by the Washington State Department of Ecology have helped to keep levels of phosphorus and nitrogen low in the Little Spokane, which prevents the water from getting too acidic and keeping the local fish populations happy and healthy.

Of course, the work doesn’t end here–restoring ecosystems is a never-ending collaboration between nature and humans. If the Little Spokane River is a finely-tuned watch, groups like the Inland Northwest Land Conservancy and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife are repairers, making sure all the right parts are where they need to be, working in harmony with one another to keep the river–and all who depend on it–healthy.