Monday, January 25, 2016

A Wild Success - The Capitol Lake Interpretive Center- Part 1

Text by Nancy Partlow ©
All photos were taken at the Capitol Lake Interpretive Center by Nancy Partlow©, unless otherwise noted.

My family’s interest in the Capitol Lake Interpretive Center began circa 2010. We were looking for someplace easily walkable, wheelchair accessible, and in a natural setting.  The Interpretive Center on Deschutes Parkway fit the bill perfectly, and it’s been a love affair ever since.
The Center’s history is interesting.  According to Washington State Department of Enterprise Services web site:
"Development of the Capitol Lake Interpretive Center was made possible with the 1979 dredging of Capitol Lake. In that project, an 18-acre, two-cell dewatering basin was created to process the spoils of future dredge operations. A much smaller dredging operation in 1986 utilized the basins for this purpose. A third dredging operation planned in the mid-1990’s was prevented, however, because portions of the dewatering basins had naturally evolved, were determined to be wetlands, and could not be disturbed.
The construction of Heritage Park in 1997 included the designation of these 18 acres as an Interpretive Center with a commitment by the state to establish and maintain a high quality wetlands in the former dewatering basins. These new wetlands mitigate the loss of open-water habitat and the expansion of the park grounds into formerly submerged lake areas.
The 2001 Nisqually Earthquake caused considerable damage to the area. However, reconstruction provided an opportunity for considerable improvements.
Today, the Interpretive Center holds great promise to provide visitors with an experience that contributes to their understanding of our natural systems. It is one of the most unique components of any state capitol in the nation."
In September  I walked the CLIC with Bob Barnes, the landscape architect who along with state horticulturist Susan Buis and Erica Guttman from the Native Plant Salvage Project, was responsible for the 2003 replanting of the trail.  He shared with me some photos from that time.

Volunteers help plant native plants at the Capitol Lake
Interpretive Center.

An enthusiastic proponent of native plant restoration, he conveyed his philosophy by quoting Chief Seattle: 
"We did not weave the web of life, we are merely a strand in it"
The Interpretive Center is a wonderful example of the flourishing web of relationships created by installing a diverse mosaic of native plants.  The result is a magical place, vibrantly alive with wildlife; a natural area that on a small scale rivals the Nisqually Refuge. 
A song sparrow throws back its head and sings at the CLIC

A Spring azure butterfly sips nectar from ocean spray flowers 

A cedar waxwing in an alder tree

A Bombus mixtus bumble bee nectars from mock orange blossoms

The Capitol Lake Interpretive Center beautifully illustrates the concept of, “Build it, and they will come”.  It is a wild success.
The CLIC at the time of its 2003 remodel. 
Courtesy of Bob Barnes

Aerial photo of the CLIC today
From the Thurston County Geodata website

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