Research with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has a website where you can get information. It also has education information.

Using the speakerphone in our classroom so everyone in the class could hear, we called the number for the Director.

That office gave us the name of the Region 1 office that helps people where we live. Thank you to Dr. Jeffrey P. Koenings, Director, for encouraging us in our water habitat project and to his office who connected us with Mr. John Whalen in Spokane, Washington.

We talked to Mr. John Whalen in the Region 1 office.

He was very, very helpful in answering our questions.


Question: We asked him what shrubs and grasses we should plant on the island.

Answer: He told us that is was important to plant grasses that would help prevent erosion.

He told us that osier dogwoods are good for "holding the soil" and preventing erosion.

He also said that sandbar willows were good to prevent erosion.

He told us that:

1. Canada geese like open grasses so they can watch for predators.

2. Canada geese like to build their nests on platforms.

3. Mallard ducks like tall grasses so they can hide their nests.

He told us he would do some more research to find out what grasses would be the best ones to plant on the island


Question: We asked him what fish would help control the goldfish population.

Answer: He told us that any fish we put into the pond that controlled the goldfish might start to overpopulate the pond.

He told us the best way to control the goldfish is to remove some of them every spring when they are spawning.


Question: We asked him if we could put flathead minnows in the pond for the herons.

Answer: He asked us how big the pond was and if it had ice and snow on it in the winter.

We told him about how big the pond was and that it was covered with ice and snow in the winter. We told him that it has a waterfall in the summer time but in the winter the city turns off the water cycle system so that the pipes won't freeze.

He told us that minnows could die in the pond during the winter if they didn't get enough oxygen.

He told us that herons would also eat frogs, snakes, salamanders, mice, turtles and maybe even the goldfish.

Mr. Whalen said he would do some research for us and send us a letter very soon telling us what grasses to plant on the island.

When we got his letter he told us:

1. For erosion control we could plant a mixture of 60% Sandberg bluegrass, 30% Idaho fescue, and 10% Alsike clover.

2. We should rake the ground first before planting the grass seed.

3. We should plant the grass seed after the day time temperatures were below 60 degrees so the seeds won't germinate this fall and get frozen and killed during the winter.

4. We should cover the seeds with some kind of mulch.

5. The goldfish should be good food for the heron. If we wanted to put any other fish in the pond, we would need to get a "fish plant permit" which would cost $24.00.

Thank you to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, especially Mr. John Whalen, for helping us do our research for the pond habitat.

Here is the research report we gave to Mr. Davis and Mr. Fetter. Two second graders read this report to them in a phone call. We used our classroom speakerphone so the whole class could hear the telephone conversation.

Report to Mr. Alan Davis and Mr. Larry Fletter at the City of Pullman

October 1, 1999


We called the Washington Fish and Wildlife Department to ask John Whalen about what grasses we should plant on the new island.

We told him we wanted to plant grasses that the Canada Geese and Mallard ducks would like to eat and grasses they would like for their nests.

He told us that the Canada Geese like open grasses so they can see their predators.

He also told us that the Canada Geese like to have a platform for building a nest.

He said the mallard ducks like grasses that they can hide in for their nests.

He said we should think about planting native grasses for the wildlife and native grasses that help keep the island from eroding.

He sent us a letter saying that the native grasses that we could plant to help with erosion and for wildlife habitats are a mixture:

Sandberg bluegrass (60 %)

Idaho fescue (30%)

Alsike clover (10%)

We asked him about what fish we could put in the pond that would eat goldfish so the goldfish wouldn't overpopulate the pond.

He said that the fish we might put in to control the goldfish might start to overpopulate the pond just like the goldfish have.

He said the best way to control the goldfish population was to take goldfish out of the pond in the spring with nets.

But, then you would have to find someplace for the goldfish that you took out.

The class thought maybe we could sell goldfish!!!

We asked him about minnows for the Great Blue Heron.

He asked us if the pond has oxygen all year long. We told him it has a waterfall and that the water is recycled from the small pond to the big pond.

He asked if the pond was covered with ice and snow in the winter.

We told him sometimes it is.

He said that might be a problem because the minnows might die in the winter because there isn't enough oxygen for them.

He thought we should wait until Spring to do anything about the fish.

He said Great Blue Herons will eat mice, salamanders, and frogs. He thought they might even eat goldfish.

He said we could get shrubs from Mark Grabski in St. John.

He said dogwood would be good to plant on the shore island next Spring.



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INDEX of Water Habitat Web Pages

First Pond Page/A Look At Photo Journals/Writing About Water Habitats/Water Habitat Quilt/First Meeting With Mr.Alan Davis/Response to Pond Floods/Observation of the Great Blue Heron/Presentation to City of Pullman/Pond Birds/Pond Trees and Shrubs/Water Habitat I*EARN Conference Keynote Address/Photo Journal August 1999/Second Meeting With Mr.Alan Davis and Mr. Fetter/Research on Plantings for New Island/Planting Grass Seeds Photo Journal October 1999/Studying Pond Macroinvertebrates/Return to Classroom Index