H20 Birds on the Go
2018 Sandhill Crane Festival – Othello, Washington March 23, 24, 25Travel & Leisure
All the pieces are finally in place for the 2018 Othello Sandhill Crane Festival, March 23-25. This year’s theme is “H20 & Birds on the Go.” In the past, the festival has focused primarily on the area’s wildlife. This year, there is a much greater emphasis on the reason the wildlife is there—the abundant water in the forms of irrigation and wetlands. “I’m excited about this theme, because, without natural or irrigation water, many of the birds and wildlife would not be here,” noted Kurt Braunwart, Co-chair of the Festival. “Just as clean water is important for people, it is also a key to healthy wildlife.”
While the focus of the Festival is celebrating the spring migration of the Sandhill cranes, there are plenty of opportunities for the whole family to enjoy and learn about everything the Columbia Basin has to offer. Children’s activities will keep youngsters entertained, while adults can take part in lectures on topics ranging from drones and agriculture to wildlife to the area’s fascinating geologic history. Of course, the crane, birding, refuge, geology and agricultural tours are the highlight of the Festival.
This year’s keynote speaker is truly unique. Stefan Schlick, representing the Portland Audubon Society, was born and raised in Germany but relocated to the United States in 1992. Over the last 25 years, he has ‘birded’ extensively throughout Europe and North America. His Saturday evening lecture will explain why cranes have been fascinating people all over the world for centuries.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is a proud partner of the Othello Sandhill Crane Festival, and Columbia National Wildlife Refuge will be the destination for most of the tours. However, Denise McInturff, a Visitor Services Specialist with the agency, noted, “Columbia is a special place any time of the year, and we hope people will visit the refuge not just during the Festival."