Nisqually festival celebrates watershed, people striving to protect it

jeff.mayor@thenewstribune.comSeptember 22, 2013 

The 24th annual Nisqually Watershed Festival is a mix of art, music, lectures, walks and family friendly fun that celebrates the 517-square-mile basin. The free event will be held Saturday at the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge.

The festival features walks through the refuge, presentations on the watershed, displays from area conservation organizations and a variety of activities. Attendees should bring their own T-shirt to make a fish print with a Nisqually salmon.

“It is a celebration of the culture, the history, the people who live here, the people who live and play here, the natural resources,” said Ashley Von Essen, Nisqually River Council coordinator.

“It’s also a celebration of the champions of the watershed. There are so many people doing such good things. We want people to see why so many people have such a passion and why this amazing place is worth saving,” Essen said.

The festival draws about 1,200 people each year.

Lectures: The event includes a series of 30 minute presentations on various watershed topics and issues. The lectures will start at the top of each hour, from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Among the speakers will be a representative from Cascadia Research Collective talking about marine life. Jim Ross from Mount Rainier National Park will be talking about the first climbs of the mountain. Other topics might include estuary research based on the effort at the Nisqually and conservation programs at Northwest Trek.

New this year: The festival will have a number of new attractions, including Claudia the Chinook that is replacing Fin the Salmon this year. There will be a main stage presentation from Wolf Camp. Young attendees will able to build a bughouse, thanks to Home Depot.

About the refuge: Created in 1974, the refuge covers more than 3,900 acres where the Nisqually River ends its 78-mile journey from Mount Rainier to Puget Sound. The various habitats of the refuge provide a home to more than 300 species of fish and wildlife. The refuge is popular with birders, as 275 species make their home there or use it as a migratory rest stop. The Nisqually Reach Boardwalk Trail is a good place to look for birds. The refuge is open daily sunrise-sunset. The visitor center is open Wednesdays-Sundays from 9 a.m.-4 p.m.

When: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday

Where: Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge, located at Exit 114 off Interstate 5

Cost: Free; Bring money for food sold by vendors.

Parking: Attendees should park and pick up a free shuttle at River Ridge High School, 350 River Ridge Drive, Lacey. The shuttle runs every 15 minutes. There is handicap parking available at the refuge.

Information: Go to

Jeffrey P. Mayor: 253-597-8640

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