Tours of Coyote Canyon Mammoth Site offered monthly

KENNEWICK -- The dig season has started for the Coyote Canyon Mammoth Site south of Kennewick, and the public is invited to tour it one day each month.

They can see the painstaking work being done to dig and sweep dirt away from the bones at the dig site, see the dirt sifted and then the remaining rocks, seeds and other small pieces sorted and examined.

Work is moving ahead in part because of another donation from Battelle Corp., which operates Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland.

Battelle Corp. recently donated $10,000 to the MCBONES Research Center Foundation to purchase laboratory equipment and supplies and to support participation of students and teachers in scientific research at the dig.

Among equipment that could be purchased are microscopes that will be web-accessible to classrooms, lab furniture, equipment for sediment analyses, archiving shelving, curation storage boxes and a projector and laptop computer for classes.

The foundation also is interested in eventually adding a setup for elementary school students to dig for mock bones and screen soil, just as researchers and their helpers are doing at the actual dig site.

Paleontologist Bax Barton of the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture at the University of Washington and George Last, a senior research geologist at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, are the science experts on the dig.

There also are opportunities for undergraduate and graduate research projects on the dig and for high school students to develop senior projects.

The public may tour the site on one day of the second or third weekend of the month, when work is being done at the site. Those wanting to see the site or to arrange for groups to see the site should call Donna Van Beek at 509-989-1449.

More information, including about volunteering and donating, is available at the foundation's new website at www.mcbones.org under "Get involved."