Lots of rain this spring means lots of water in the ponds at Golden Coyote Wetlands, and it's the water that attracts the birdwatchers and more than 40 different bird species.

Just three miles east of Wolf Creek and Interstate 5, Golden Coyote has become an outdoor classroom for children and a place where hikers can find an easy stroll through a peaceful streamside environment.

It's hard to believe now that 150 years of gold mining almost destroyed this part of Coyote Creek. Fifteen years ago, when concerned local citizens decided to restore the area as a critical habitat for wildlife, they faced abandoned cars, garbage and mountainous piles of mine tailings.

With the support of local and national organizations, they've been able to recreate ponds, replant vegetation and develop hiking trails. The natural setting is attracting birdwatchers statewide, and specially created viewpoints not only provide good views of feathered visitors, they also give nature photographers some of the best photo locations in the wetlands.

The Umpqua Valley Audubon Society conducts periodic expeditions to Golden Coyote. Check their schedule at www.umpquavalleyaudubon.org. The non-profit, Golden Coyote Wetlands, Inc., continues to watch over the wetlands. Contact them at P.O. Box 1562, Grants Pass, OR 97528.