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Lost Lake: Inside the Gem

Okanogan Highlands Alliance presents:

Lost Lake: Inside the Gem

a Highland Wonders event

Friday, February 5th

The Lost Lake wetland supports an astonishing degree of biodiversity, with several wetland types and a complex web of life. On February 5th, local botanist George Thornton, along with a panel of speakers, will share an inside view of this incredible biological resource. From aquatic insect-eating plants to Northern Harriers swooping through the air in search of prey, the wetland is a hub of activity. More loon chicks have been hatched at Lost Lake than at any other lake in WA State, using the wetland fringe for nesting. Throughout the site, various kinds of wetlands foster the growth of rare plants and rich wildlife, as the mix of land and water transitions from forested seepage wetland to shrub swamp to calcareous fen. The latter has plant associations that are typically found in rich to extremely rich fens, and is one of the rarest wetland types in the United States.

“The wetlands within the Lost Lake Preserve are of high conservation value due to the rare plants and plant communities which occur there,” says Joe Rocchio, Vegetation Ecologist with the WA Natural Heritage Program (Department of Natural Resources). He adds, “The site retains excellent ecological integrity despite numerous human stressors in the surrounding landscape. The Lost Lake Wetland Preserve harbors some significant pieces of Washington’s natural heritage. The long-term protection of this wetland complex contributes to the conservation of these biodiversity treasures within Washington State.” 

Botanist George Thornton has nurtured a personal and professional interest in native plants of Okanogan Highlands for many years, observing some of our most special wetlands over time. He has led two native plant hikes at Lost Lake as part of OHA’s outdoor Highland Wonders series, and has helped with countless other educational events. George will provide an overview of the wetland types, and a close-up look at rare plants that grow in the wetland.

Habitat enhancement is another important component of the Preserve, and local community member Lee Johnson will speak about the nesting boxes and habitat piles that have been added to the site, along with some of the results.

Volunteer Susie Shaddox assists O.H.A. with wetland monitoring at Lost Lake (see photo at left)

The Lost Lake wetland is being used as a research site to expand our understanding of the intricate relationships between organisms, land, and water. To this end, two post-doctoral researchers from the department of Biology at UW in Seattle, Chloé Lahondère and Clément Vinauger, have been studying the pollination of a rare orchid by mosquitoes, at the Lost Lake Preserve and in the surrounding area. Chloé and Clément will join us on February 5th, to share about their work in analyzing the scent of the native orchids. By identifying the various chemicals emitted by the plants and measuring the response of the mosquitoes to the orchids’ odors, this research will help establish to which compounds mosquitoes are attracted. This is one component of the UW research into mosquitoes’ behavior, physiology and ecology, and just one example of unique research opportunities that may be possible the Lost Lake Preserve.

OHA recognizes the educational value of the Preserve, and Julie Ashmore will share ways Lost Lake is being used to raise awareness about wetland and forest ecology.

Lost Lake is a gem in many ways. Since the wetland is too sensitive to accommodate hiking groups, OHA will bring you “inside the gem” through the lens of the plants, pollinators, and wildlife of the Preserve. Come and learn about how OHA is preserving the Lost Lake wetland, making the site available to researchers, and teaching youth about the value and function of wetlands, using Lost Lake as an example. Delve with us into the depths of this gem, and take a look at the array of botanical wonders that thrive at the Preserve.

Event at a Glance:


When: Friday, February 5th, at 6:30 pm. (Dinner benefiting the Community Cultural Center at 5:15 pm, followed by the presentation with tea, coffee and desserts.)

Cost:     Presentation is free; dinner is $7.50 for CCC members and $8.50 for non-members (benefit for the CCC).

Where: Community Cultural Center (CCC), 411 S Western Ave, Tonasket, WA


This educational event is provided by OHA, and hosted at the CCC. OHA is a non-profit organization that works to educate the public on watershed issues. The Highland Wonders educational series features the natural history of the Okanogan Highlands and surrounding areas. OHA’s Education Program, which is offered free of charge, is designed to build the capacity of the community to steward natural habitats and resources by helping increase awareness of local natural history. Donations are always welcome.


Questions? www.okanoganhighlands.org/education/hw, julie@okanoganhighlands.org, or 509-476-2432.