Wenas Creek Mammoth Project opens to public for final year - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Wenas Creek Mammoth Project opens to public for final year

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NEAR SELAH, Wash. – The Wenas Creek Mammoth Project opened to the public for its sixth and likely final summer Tuesday as the scientific investigation prepares for the next phase in research.

Mammoth bones are not uncommon in eastern Washington but an active excavation is rare. Almost 7,000 people have visited the dig and the on-site crew wants to encourage the public to see it before it closes.

"It's just interesting for me to learn about cultures and the past," said Rachel Sweetman, a senior at Central Washington University. "The way people used to live, it's a mystery so its fun to put that all together."

Since 2005, CWU students have been working to uncover more mammoth bones and learn more about the region's history. Now in their sixth summer, they have discovered one fourth of a mammoth.

Tim Troemel is a freshman at CWU, he says students have to balance pace with precision on the dig site.

"Log just anything interesting we find," he said. "Even digging you got to be careful but you still can't just slowly pick at it or you'll never get anywhere."

This is the first of four weeks when tours will be offered. The project is scheduled to move its focus to research in the lab after this summer. Part of the reason to stop fieldwork is the hope that future excavation teams can return to the site decades later after technology and tools improve.

Dr. Pat Lubinski is the project director and says a visit to the dig will offer a local tie to ancient times.

"I think it's fascinating to think about what life might have been like around here in the valley 16,000 years ago," said Lubinski. "And what's the connection between the past and today."

The Wenas Creek Mammoth Project is located on 1770 S. Wenas Rd. and open for tours Tuesday through Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. until Aug. 7. There is also an exhibit on the CWU campus in Ellensburg.

For more information, visit http://www.cwu.edu/~mammoth/