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News, notes, trip reports, and the lighter side (of the wilder side) of the Oregon environmental and conservation movement.
Awesome video culminating an amazing journey for the iconic northwest fish.
Got an e-mail from Save Our Wild Salmon today with a pretty amazing video.
Most of us have heard about the unbelievable journey that many salmon take to return to their spawning grounds. These native salmon travel from the ocean to the same river where they hatched. On the way, they have quite a bit to overcome.
Some of the obstacles blocking the return of salmon are man made. Massive dams on the Columbia and Snake Rivers and dozens of dams on tributary streams change the migration routes for salmon in astonishing ways. These fish also have to swim through polluted streams and past gill-nets.
Other obstacles are natural. Check out the video after the jump.
A couple of interesting anecdotes from the dammed rivers in Oregon.
Back in 1994, Oregon Wild (then ONRC) released our 15 Damnable Dams report. The cover was emblazoned with this quote:
"Historically, questions about dams have been limited to where or whether to build them in the first place. Given what we now know, it is time to change the terms of the debate. It is time to ask whether or not existing dams should be allowed to remain."
Since publication of the Damnable Dams report, we've seen progress and stagnation in the fight to remove large dams in Oregon. In a three-year dam busting binge that would make Ed Abbey proud, Savage Rapids Dam and Gold Hill Dam on the main stem Rogue River and Elk Creek Dam on a major tributary have all been demolished. And this year, Gold Ray Dam is expected to get yanked. Once that happens, Lost Creek Dam will be the only major dam on the Rogue River allowing it to flow freely below Lost Creek for 157 miles to the ocean.
Clifford Tracy, Oregon's Yellowstone, and an 1872 law.
In early September we heard word for our allies at the Siskiyou Project down in SW Oregon that something strange had happened in the Siskiyou Wild Rivers area.
We've been working with partner organizations now for months drawing maps and determining what lands in this botanical oasis should be included in the next Wilderness bill (turns out there are a lot - over 500,000 acres in all). One of the big threats in the area is mining. Stripping for nickel, dredging for gold, and using public lands to do it.
Part of the problem is the weak federal laws that govern mining on the lands that we all collectively own in our National Forests and on BLM land. Considering that the tools of the mining trade have changed quite a bit over the years (think fewer pick axes and more bulldozers) you'd think we'd have modern laws to regulate all of our modern technology.
Well, think again. And when an 1872 law governs mining rules, you can expect miners to behave like it's 1872.
And that's just what happened earlier this month. (see more past the jump)
California's senior US Senator plays politics in the San Joaquin Delta.
Here in Oregon (like much of the west) we know a few things about water politics. In 2001 and 2002 we had a front row seat for one of the ugliest water fights in recent times.
After decades of leftovers, in 2001 endangered salmon and sucker fish got first dibs on water in the Klamath Basin. In the middle of drought, the fish needed local agribusiness to scale back their water consumption. In an average year, the Klamath Irrigation Project - a federally operated water delivery system - sucks about 400,000 acre-feet of water from the river (right at its headwaters). In 2001, for the sake of fish, the feds delivered 280,000 acre-feet to the project; still a lot of water.
For some, that wasn't enough. So, former Vice President Dick Cheney got on the phone to see if he couldn't fix the "problem." Cheney was acting for the benefit of then-Senator Gordon Smith and powerful political allies in the Basin. He rounded up the National Research Council and got a new scientific review that, when implemented by pro-irrigation bureaucrats at the Bureau of Reclamation, left the river with too little water for fish.
In 2002, upwards of 70,000 adult salmon died in the Klamath River.
Today, it looks like Senator Dianne Feinstein might be greasing the wheels for the same sort of scenario.
Surviving the scorcher by taking a dip, how to cool down on a global scale, a call to support national parks, responsible hiking, and playing with mud
Beat the heat
As the promised heat wave arrives in Oregon these next few days, be sure to prepare yourself properly to conquer the scorcher. If you're heading into the great outdoors, wear lightweight breathable clothing, carry plenty of water, and protect yourself from the sun by staying covered and using sunscreen. You can also try shadier locations for your hikes and outings as well as those in higher altitudes to try to escape the heat down below.
If you're looking for a swimming hole to cool down in, check out those listed in Lane County, but be sure to do so responsibly. Don't bring glass bottles to these locations, but again be sure to bring water to stay hydrated. I discovered my favorite swimming hole, Pegleg falls, during last summer's heated August. A beautiful and cool spot near Mount Hood’s Bagby Hot Springs, this gem is typically fairly quiet and the deep and clear water is stunningly blue and beautiful. With a few shallower swimming spots and plenty of area surrounding the water for sitting and relaxing, Pegleg offers a great place for family and friends.
OSU's dam tool, saving krill to save others, using the water you've already got, eliminating invasives, the power of green, and how-to's: stop ghost fishing, float down a river, and photograph encounters with wildlife.
OSU tool would've been handy for Oregon
Oregon Researchers are creating a tool to evaluate the collective impacts of dam construction to be used in China. The IDAM, which stands for Integrative Dam Assessment Modeling, would estimate all the effects of building a dam on water quality, biodiversity and more. This smart invention from Oregon's own would have come in handy in the past.
Old growth habitats and the fear of fire, bird watchings, a butterfly tale, wild rapids, and the political dams.
Old growth habitats provide protection
Recent studies report that spotted owl habitat is not more prone to forest fire, which the Bush administration tried to contend as reasoning for ramping up old growth logging. By looking at satellite images, scientists have decided that an increase in forest thinning may not be the answer, and the argument that the spotted owl's habitat can be ignored because logging must happen to prevent forest fires has been disproved.
Logging in a roadless area and a gorgeous spot on the Chetco River don't mix well over this Independence Day.
I heard great things about the Tincup Trail going up the Wild & Scenic Chetco River outside of Brookings, and especially of the destination - a gorgeous spot on the edge of the Kalmiopsis Wilderness where Boulder Creek enters the River. I wasn't disappointed in the spot - in fact I'd rate this 4th of July the laziest, most beautiful of my life. But the trail, and what lies along it, had some issues.
Money in motion, rare wildlife, the legislation-conservation dance, and Oregon wildflowers
Money makes the world (and conservation) go round
Federal stimulus money is going to fund the removal of the Gold Ray dam on the Rogue River. Similar to the Elk Creek dam, recently removed thanks to a decades long struggle by Oregon Wild and others, the Gold Ray dam project has recently done little more than cost the state money and hinder salmon and steelhead spawning streams. The dam may finally be removed to the great relief of Oregon Wild and many salmon and steelhead.
In the same vein, Sisters Rocks (not that Sisters...this one is a little further south) has recently become a state park thanks to the portion of lottery funds dedicated to salmon and parks. Just south of Port Orford on Highway 101, this unpopulated, hidden sea cave makes for a fun and beautiful outing in a new small coastal park.
A look at the day's news from the "wild side": Waldo motors staying or going, PCT inspiration, Oregon's logging lore, and wild rivers.
Waldo Lake Ban Tries to Keep the Peace
With its clarity and tranquility, Waldo Lake is a magnificent example of the beautiful waters of Oregon. But the effort to protect it from pollution continues after a federal magistrate ruled in April that the Forest Service may not have the authority to create and enforce a ban on internal combustion motors on the lake.
The pristine lake has been the topic of this on-going debate for years now as many of the lake's visitors and supporters have worked to gain protection for its scenic beauty. A serene example of Oregon's natural beauty, Waldo Lake is mainly used as a place for camping, horseback riding, kayaking, and more. While the Forest Service may not have the authority, The Oregonian editorial board suggests that the state of Oregon should step up to keep the lake clean and pristine. With the previous movement halted because of the Forest Service's apparent lack of authority, the Oregonian proposes that the state step up to the plate and institute the gas motor ban once more.