Sacajawea springtime very special this year

Sacajawea State Park is cold, leafless and more than a little desolate these days with winter winds slicing through it.

But just wait until spring.

The little angle of land where the Snake River meets the Columbia, and where the Lewis and Clark Expedition camped for two days in October 1805, will finally get its due.

There's a grand celebration scheduled in April to show the public what a renowned artist, construction workers, state parks employees and volunteers can do. (And let's not forget the ordinary citizens who willingly allow $5 to be deducted from their automobile license tabs to help fund the state parks.)

For years, residents of Benton, Franklin and Walla Walla counties have been told to hold on, something's going to be done about that park.

We were even told it would be ready for the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial years of 2003-06.

Instead, the park went through closures and cutbacks.

A new look for the place, with the artistry of the celebrated Maya Lin, who designed the Vietnam War Memorial, was held out as a promise.

Originally, that plan was to be essentially ecological, with restoring habitat the main focus.

Geese and squirrels are the most prominent occupants these days, but Sacajawea's inventory also includes coyotes, deer, marmots, muskrats, rabbits, raccoons and skunks; plus crows, ravens, doves, pigeons, ducks, eagles, gulls, hawks, herons, hummingbirds, ospreys, owls, pheasants, quail, bass, bluegill, catfish, crappie, salmon, steelhead and sturgeon.

Even if the state was right (it isn't) when it says the park is underused by humans, there are sure a lot of other critters having a ball out there.

But the ecological plan has given away to a more contained set of exhibits that tell the story of Sacajawea and the expedition on a series of large salmon-colored stones engraved with the story.

Anecdotal evidence suggests there will be plenty of viewers.

During the warm parts of the year, it's rare to see the park unused. Picnickers, Frisbee and soccer players, walkers and bikers and bird watchers fill the park to what seems a comfortable level.

Even in the winter, walkers, bikers and bird watchers are allowed in the park. No vehicles, however, because they bother the nesting eagles.

The state is inviting comment on Sacajawea State Park and its entire state parks and heritage site plans.

The park plan updates are available at www.parks.wa.gov/ plans/sacajawea and comments can be sent to Sacajawea. planning@parks.wa.gov or 270 Ninth St. N.E., Suite 200, East Wenatchee, WA 98802.

It's your park.

Get involved.

Let them know how you feel.