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News, notes, trip reports, and the lighter side (of the wilder side) of the Oregon environmental and conservation movement.
Thousands of acres of National Wildlife Refuge wetlands in the Klamath Basin will go without water this year. All signs are pointing to an unprecedented disaster.
by Wendell Wood
Sadly, 2013 will see a repeat of one of the most devastating symptoms of the Klamath Basin's numerous water problems: thousands of acres of crucial National Wildlife Refuge wetlands in the Klamath will be without water.
Unfortunately, this sad state of affairs reflects the norm in the Klamath Basin, where too much water has been promised to too many interests. Even in years of abundant water flow, this annual refuge de-watering represents the continuation of a policy of favoring agribusiness interests while avoiding cost-effective, long-term solutions which would bring water demand in the basin into balance with actual supplies.
The continued sacrifice of our nation's wildlife refuges in the Klamath doesn't come without serious consequences. Refuge wetlands support 80 percent of the migratory waterfowl of the Pacific Flyway, hosting birds traveling from as far away as the Arctic and Argentina.
In a strange twist, the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement (KBRA) has become the greatest impediment to the proposed removal of Klamath River dams.
The billion-dollar KBRA isn't going anywhere, gives false hope to interests which would benefit from it, and is causing state and federal agencies to ignore worsening conditions for wildlife and endangered species in the basin for fear of upsetting the deal.
As long as there appears to be some hope for the KBRA and the money that would come with it in Congress, government agencies and stakeholders in the Klamath Basin will continue to allow PacifiCorp to continue with their fish-killing status quo. No Act of Congress is necessary to remove the dams.
Guest blogger, scientist, and Oregon Wild supporter Ivan Phillipsen explores the natural wonders of Washington and Oregon.
While hiking Oregon's mountains, you usually can't walk very far before a small, burbling stream cuts across your path. Most of these streams are narrow enough to hop across. They are cold, clear, and often overshadowed by trees, shrubs, and ferns. They're great places to fill your water bottle on a hot summer day.
These are headwater streams. They are born as rivulets of melting snow or as springs, at the upper edges of the watershed.
Scientists have yet to agree on a single way to define a headwater stream. The issue is more complicated than you might think. To keep things simple, let's say a stream is a headwater if it is a terminal branch of the stream network. If you think of the network as having the shape of a tree, with a big river as the tree trunk and smaller streams as the branches, headwaters are like the outermost branch tips of the tree.
Klamath-area National Wildlife Refuges are being forced to drain massive amounts of water, while nothing is being asked of industrial irrigators.
By Wendell Wood
It has come to our attention Lower Klamath and Tule Lake NWRs are being required to deliver 5,600 acre feet of water from the refuge to the Klamath River. The Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) maintains this is being done so the agency won't have to otherwise release additional water from Upper Klamath Lake.
While the BOR claims it needs to do so to maintain Upper Klamath lake levels for endangered species purposes, it is also doing so for the principal purpose of "recharging" the lake to its maximum elevation prior to the onset of the 2013 irrigation season.
The great-grandson of Waldo Lake's namesake expresses his concern over the Oregon Aviation Board's desire to allow seaplanes to land and take off from the pristine lake.
This letter was submitted by Bruce A. Johnson of Bend to Governor John Kitzhaber. Mr. Johnson is the great-grandson of Waldo Lake namesake and early Oregon conservationist Judge John B. Waldo.
Dear Governor Kitzhaber,
I am writing to urge you, as the elected Governor of the State of Oregon and member of the State Land Board, to lead an effort to establish a permanent and binding preservation of Waldo Lake in its pure and natural state.
This lake, of remarkable clarity with water considered among the purest in the word, and enjoyed by respectful recreationists for its solitude and natural qualities, is at risk of being gradually degraded due to the lack of a single, unified effort to protect it from detrimental activities.
Hike to wildflowers and a warm springs near Oakridge.
Hidden in the hills behind Oakridge is the perfect day’s outing (from June to November) in an unprotected wilderness west of Waldo Lake. Start with a hike through one of the state’s most diverse wildflower meadows to a historic shelter with mountain views. Top off the day with a soak in a natural warm springs pool.
The day begins in Oakridge’s real downtown—not the fast food joints you see along Highway 58. At the traffic light on Highway 58, turn north 0.2 mile on a bridge across the railroad tracks. Then turn right on First Street. The old downtown here features the reasonably priced Oakridge Hostel, the Lion Mountain Bakery, and the Brewers Union Pub.
The mysteries of Gold Lake's bogs has our guide book author on the look out for a mythical creature.
“Have you ever run across any sign of Bigfoot?”
I get calls like this occasionally. The man on the phone had first asked if I was indeed the guidebook author who explores remote corners of Oregon. He hadn’t given his own name.
“Actually, I never have met Sasquatch,” I admitted. “Why do you ask?”
“Well,” he said, “I have this theory. I’ve been looking at maps and think he might be hiding out in the Gold Lake bog.”
I had to admit I’d never looked there. The bog is a square mile of floating sphagnum behind Gold Lake, in undesignated wilderness land south of Waldo Lake. Unless the mythic ape man is amphibious, it would be a hard place to hang out.
But the conversation stuck in my mind, perhaps because I really didn’t know what was in the bog. Eventually I decided it might be interesting, and relatively easy, to check it out in winter, when the swamp is frozen solid.
I’d been to Gold Lake countless times on skis and snowshoes. It’s a classic first trip of the winter season. Nearly level and only 1.8 miles long, the Nordic ski trail leads to a rustic shelter by the lake. From there, the bog is just a mile across the lake.
Starting point for this adventure is the Gold Lake Sno-park, half a mile west of Willamette Pass on Highway 58. From there you cross the highway and then ski the snowed-under Road 500 to Gold Lake.
Check carefully before venturing out onto the frozen lake. Snow can insulate the surface, leaving slush instead of ice underneath. On the far shore of the lake, the bog is great ski terrain, with little hummocks and a view south to Diamond Peak.
I didn’t see any sign of Bigfoot. Still, I wondered, is a lack of giant footprints conclusive evidence?
Once a woman who writes very nice poetry asked me the question I’d heard from the man on the telephone, “Have you ever seen any sign of Bigfoot?”
I told her no.
“That figures,” she said, nodding. “Sasquatch doesn’t reveal herself to just anyone.“
So who knows? Maybe he -- she? -- really is hiding in Gold Lake’s bog.
William L. Sullivan (www.oregonhiking.com) is the author of "Oregon Favorites", available in all bookstores. Six of Bill's sixteen books are now available in electronic format at http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/38219.
The news of a variance from treatment rules for Portland's one-of-a-kind water supply system has everyone celebrating.
Last October at our annual photo contest unveiling event, I stood with other Oregon Wild staff, volunteers, and supporters as the baton was passed from one leader to the next.
Regna Merritt, after over 20 years with the organization (10 at the helm), was moving on and our current Executive Director Scott Shlaes was grabbing the reins. It was an exciting time. We huddled closer to the podium as Regna passed the microphone to Scott. It was fitting that he said thanks and raised a glass of pure, delicious Bull Run water to toast Regna's accomplishments with the organization.
A pastor, a scientist, a mayor, and a fisherman walk into a hotel and meet a bear. It could be the setup for a bad joke, but it's not.
Back when I used to teach at OMSI’s outdoor science schools, we played a eco-version of the game “Paper, Rock, Scissors”. In this case, bear ate salmon, salmon ate mosquito, and of course mosquito ate bear. In my current role as Oregon Wild’s Roadless Advocate, I’m turning that game on its head.
At a public meeting tomorrow, we’ll have a bear and a salmon, but they won’t be eating each other, and thankfully there shouldn’t be any mosquitoes in sight. Instead, they’ll be handing out information and collecting public comment at a meeting the Forest Service doesn’t really want you to attend.
Click here for details about the event and here to take action if you can’t make it. Continue reading past the break to find out more.
If it wasn’t so serious, it’d be tempting to LOL at what’s going on in DC.
They say that if you sat a bunch of monkeys down in front of a bunch of typewriters, they’d eventually write Shakespeare. I wonder how long it would take them to write what’s on the minds of conservationists these days:
Politicians in DC are using the CR to undermine the ESA & CWA, gut NPR, give free reign to ORV’s, impede enforcement of NEPA, defund CEQ, and eliminate the LWCF. Heck, it’s not just the R’s. Even D’s supported by LCV are messing up NFMA.
I’d be willing to guess that much like the Shakespeare monkeys, even many of you who were willing to muddle through that last paragraph aren’t sure of what it all means.
Sadly, it means bad news for anyone who likes to breathe air, drink clean water, enjoy wild landscapes and appreciate native wildlife. Sadder still, it’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Click here to take action to ensure your elected leaders don’t play politics with critical environmental protections, and continue past the break to learn more.