The Bureau of Reclamation’s Pacific Northwest Region, along with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Chelan County Public Utility District, were honored April 23 at the 2013 National Hydropower Association annual conference in Washington, D.C.
The agencies received the Outstanding Stewards of America’s Waters Award (OSAW) for Public Education for their collaborative educational program called the “D3 Geocache Challenge,” a high-tech treasure hunt offered at Grand Coulee Dam, Chief Joseph Dam, and Rocky Reach Dam.
Geocaching uses GPS (global positioning system) devices or a smartphone to receive clues to search for hidden items and learn about clean, renewable energy in a fun way.
Upon completing the specific geocaches at Grand Coulee Dam, treasure hunters return to the Visitor Center to receive their prize, a piece of the overhead power lines that once carried electricity from the largest powerplant in the United States. To receive a distinguished D3 patch, visitors must also complete additional geocaches at Chief Joseph Dam and Rocky Reach Dam.
“This was truly a partnership project,” said Lynne Brougher, Grand Coulee Dam Public Affairs Officer. “Coordinating the program with the other dams was fun and it was a great opportunity for the participants to learn interesting facts about the dams and a great way to promote local tourism. It took a lot of teamwork. The staff members at the Grand Coulee Dam Visitor Center worked diligently to ensure the program succeeded by assisting visitors in their quest to complete the challenge.”
Due to the success of the program in 2012, it is being expanded to 10 additional Northwest dams this summer through the Foundation for Water and Energy Education.
The Grand Coulee Dam Visitor Center is open daily from 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. with extended hours during the summer season:
• May 25 - July 31: 8:30 a.m. - 11 p.m.
• August 1 - 31: 8:30 a.m. - 10:30 p.m.
• September 1 - 30: 8:30 a.m. - 9:30 p.m.
Geocache locations are accessible from dawn to dusk.
For more information about geocaching at Grand Coulee Dam, contact the Visitor Center at (509) 633-9265.