Othello Sandhill Crane Festival (& FloodFest)

It’s time to begin making plans to attend the 2017 Othello Sandhill Crane Festival, you will never find so many Ice Age Floods-related lectures and tours in one place.  This year the Crane Festival will be held on March 24, 25, and 26. This festival is becoming a viable vehicle for the IAFI’s goal of having an annual Floodfest celebration.  Friday the 24th, Nick Zentner will give a talk that will summarize the general Ice Age Floods story.  Saturday the 25th will be the day most of the IAFI’s lectures will be heard.  Sunday the 26th will showcase most of our flood-related geologic tours.  We have added one additional tour this year.  Karl Lillquist will be conducting our first tour of the western Quincy Basin. The Othello Sandhill Crane Festival website will be available soon to register for these tours. 

There will be one IAFI tour on Saturday (March 25, 2017):

  • Ice Age Floods and the Channeled Scablands Tour:  Led by Brent Cunderla after his morning lecture, this trip will emphasize the geology  and catastrophic Ice Age  Flood features found near Othello and Columbia National Wildlife Refuge.  A visit to the Drumheller Channels (a National Park Service National Landmark managed by Columbia NWR), scabland topography and  ice-rafted boulders, or erratics, will be the highlights of the trip.  Brent has spent the last 25 years with the Bureau of Land Management in Wenatchee and has been actively exploring the late Pleistocene glacial geology, particularly the  Ice Age Floods features of North Central Washington.  There will be one stop for facilities and no lunch on this trip, so please plan accordingly.

There are six IAFI tours on Sunday (March 25, 2017):

  • Western Quincy Basin Tour:  Karl Lillquist will lead an all-day bus tour of the western portion of the Quincy Basin.  Ice Age Floods entered the Quincy Basin from the northeast and east.  Some of this water drained from the basin through the Drumheller Channels to the south.  The remainder flowed west exiting the basin through Frenchman Coulee, Potholes Coulee, and Crater Coulee on the western edge of the Quincy Basin.  We will examine the landform and sediment evidence for the catastrophic flood origins and evolution of each of these western flood outlets on several short (less than 1.5 mile) hikes.  You will see giant basalt columns, dry falls, potholes, plunge pools, buttes, mesas, flood bars, and more.  In addition we will explore the overall physical and human geography of the area.
  • Upper Grand Coulee Tour:  Gene Kiver will take you on an all-day bus tour that will “fight” your way upstream from Othello through the Summer Falls floodway to the Upper Grand Coulee where you will examine some of the evidence and features produced by the Missoula Floods.  Floodwaters were hundreds to almost 1,000 feet deep along the tour route and produced the spectacular Grand Coulee canyon.  Features include abandoned waterfalls, the Coulee Monocline, Steamboat Rock, and ending up at Grand Coulee Dam.  You will return to Othello through both the Upper and Lower Grand Coulee.  Time permitting; we may make additional field stops.  Bring lunch , water, and snacks.
  • Lower Grand Coulee Geology Tour:  Join John Moody, President of the Lower Grand Coulee chapter of the Ice Age Floods Institute, civil and water resources engineer as you travel north and west on McManamon Road through the Columbia National Wildlife Refuge to the Drumheller Channels National Landmark overlook.  Walk out to the overlook for a presentation.  You will then travel west to view granite erratics alongside Frenchman Hills, and north to Neva Lake.  You will walk to Sundial and view Soap Lake (original plunge pool site) and the Lower Grand Coulee Monocline.  Then travel to Lake Lenore Caves and walk around and enjoy your lunch.  You will have the opportunity to view a few overlooks, Rim Rock Meadows, Sage Brush Flats Plateau and visit Monster Rock in the Ephrata Fan.  On your way back you will visit the Coulee Corridor National Scenic Byway.
  • Hanford Reach Interpretive Center and Coyote Canyon:  The Coyote Canyon Mammoth Site is an on-going paleo-ecological excavation located southwest of Kennewick.  The 17,449 year-old mammoth bones are buried in Missoula Floods sediments.  The Mid-Columbia Basin Old Natural Education Sciences (MCBONES) Research Center Foundation is a nonprofit educational organization registered with the state and federal governments and acts as an oversight and support entity for the project.  Gary Kleinknecht will take you to the dig and Dig House, a 40×40 feet pole building set up as classroom, laboratory and museum area, and the actual site.  Dress according to the weather and bring snacks and drink.  This trip will also take you to The Hanford Reach Interpretive Center (REACH) in Richland.  If you have not visited the REACH, here is your chance to see an amazing building with exhibits on the region’s natural history and Hanford.
  • Ice Age Floods Geology of the Drumheller Channels Hike:  A 5-6 mile hike, led by geologist Bruce Bjornstad, of moderate difficulty will directly explore the evidence for the Ice Age floods within the Drumheller Channels, a dramatically eroded landscape carved out by repeated Ice Age floods as recently as 13,000 years ago.  Bring sturdy footwear, camera, and lunch; bus transportation provided.
  • Palouse Falls Tour:  Lloyd Stoess and Ken Lacy will be your hosts on a tour of the Glacial Lake Missoula floodwaters that flowed through the Cheney-Palouse flood route.  The catastrophic flooding amounted to as much as nine million cubic meters of water per second, creating the landscape we see today throughout the Columbia Basin.  View some of the most spectacular examples of flood-related  geologic activity found anywhere in the world.  Highlights of the tour include Collier Coulee, Staircase Rapids spillway, Palouse-Snake River Divide, Washtucna Coulee, Mid-Canyon Bar, Devil’s Canyon, and of course, the spectacular Palouse Falls.

The motels listed below are located at the intersection of Hwy 17 and I-90 (a 22 minute drive to downtown Othello):

Holiday Inn Express & Suites, 1735 E. Kittelson Road, Moses Lake  509-766-2000Ameri – Stay Inn & Suites, 157 N. Stratford Road, Moses Lake  509-764-7500Ramada Inn, 1745 Kittleson Road, Moses Lake  509-766-1000Shilo Inn Moses Lake, 1819 E. Kittleson Road, Moses Lake  509-765-9317Inn At Moses Lake, 1741 E. Kittleson Road, Moses Lake  509-766-7000
Comfort Suites, 1700 Kittleson Road, Moses Lake  509-765-3731

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