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New education center celebrates Spokane Valley's Saltese Flats

Doug Nadvornick/Spokane Public Radio

The facility carries the name of the matriarch of the family that donated land to re-establish Saltese Flats as a wetland.

Spokane County will hold a grand opening Saturday for its new environmental education facility at Saltese Flats in the Spokane Valley.

The Doris Morrison Learning Center celebrates the natural wonders of the area.

Morrison was, at one time, a teacher who oversaw a one-room school house in rural Montana. She and her husband returned to the family homestead at Saltese Flats. Her son Bud donated the land to Spokane County in 2010 as part of the county’s effort to renovate the natural wetland that was drained in the late 1800s to make room for the farm.

At a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Wednesday, Morrison’s granddaughter, Shari Morrison-Ide, remembered that her grandmother had a passion for sharing the history of the area.

“Even when Grandma was in her 80s, she was still teaching. She worked with the Spokane County library on a volunteer basis and she would teach adults that were illiterate how to read. She just always valued that teaching and giving back to your community," she said.

Doug Nadvornick/Spokane Public Radio
Visitors to the center can see the renovated Saltese Flats wetland.

County Commissioner Mary Kuney, who worked with Rep. Mike Volz (R-Spokane) to secure state money to help pay for the center, said visitors will enjoy the view and then get a history lesson.

“This is going to be one of those key places where you get to go outdoors and learn and touch nature and come back in and talk about it and be able to clean up and do all the things that all those teachers want to make happen. We do see this as a real learning experience," she said.

“The Central Valley School District is already gearing up for plans about how we can use this space, how we can schedule it with our elementary schools and our middle schools, specifically," said Central Valley Superintendent John Parker.

The school district had planned to build a new school in the area, but instead donated two acres to contribute to the environmental education project.

Saturday’s grand opening, on Earth Day, will run from 10 to 2 and include a variety of features designed to appeal to children, including interactive displays, live raptor shows, a scavenger hunt and guided bird walks.

Doug Nadvornick has spent most of his 30+-year radio career at Spokane Public Radio and filled a variety of positions. He is currently the program director and news director. Through the years, he has also been the local Morning Edition and All Things Considered host (not at the same time). He served as the Inland Northwest correspondent for the Northwest News Network, based in Coeur d’Alene. He created the original program grid for KSFC. He has also served for several years as a board member for Public Media Journalists Association. During his years away from SPR, he worked at The Pacific Northwest Inlander, Washington State University in Spokane and KXLY Radio.