Hanford Reach adds two new tours for this fall

Sara Schilling, Tri-City HeraldAugust 31, 2013 

Two new tours have been added to the lineup offered this fall by the Hanford Reach Interpretive Center.

An ice age tour that includes a jet boat trip up the Snake River as well as a bus ride to Palouse Falls is planned Sept. 28.

And a jet boat tour of the Hanford Reach that focuses on aquatic resources is planned Oct. 5.

The tours will be led by local scientists. Bruce Bjornstad, a geologist, is heading the ice age tour, and retired fish ecologist Dennis Dauble is taking the lead on the aquatic excursion.

The Reach tours provide great learning opportunities and also are fun, said coordinator Cathleen Williams.

"I just really think that we've got something really good" in the tours, she said. "(They're) a good addition to what the Reach is trying to do for the community."

The Reach center kicked off its tour program earlier this year, offering a selection of guided excursions on topics from agriculture to the Ice Age Floods.

More than 100 people have embarked on tours so far, with those tours involving time spent on the water proving the most popular, Williams said.

"What we're thinking about next year is including the water in some way with all our tours," she said.

The Reach center's physical building hasn't opened yet. That's scheduled to happen next year.

Officials have said launching the tours this year was a way to ramp up excitement for the facility and explore the Reach center's themes before the doors open.

Tours will continue to be part of the center's offerings once the building opens.

Construction crews are at work on the 24,000-square-foot facility at the west end of Columbia Park.

It is planned to include two galleries, a great hall overlooking the Columbia River, a film viewing room, a multipurpose room and a 10,000-square-foot basement.

"We are feeling this change, that we are moving away from being a construction project to being an operating facility," said Lisa Toomey, chief executive officer.

Spots still are available on the new tours led by Bjornstad and Dauble. Educators can earn clock hours for Dauble's tour.

Three other Reach tours also are planned this fall: an ice age-focused tour that includes a jet boat trip through Wallula Gap, a tour of McNary Dam and a visit to the new SAGE Center in Boardman on Sept. 12; a hops to beer tour into the Yakima Valley on Sept. 19; and a progressive wine and food tour and fundraiser on Sept. 20.

For details about the tour program or to sign up, call 943-4100 or go to www.visit thereach.org.

-- Sara Schilling: 582-1529; sschilling@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @saraTCHerald

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