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News, notes, trip reports, and the lighter side (of the wilder side) of the Oregon environmental and conservation movement.

Showing blog entries tagged as: Rivers
Live blogging SalmonAid Day 2

Live blogging SalmonAid Day 2

Ready to take up our spot in Jack London Square for Round 2.

9:31 am

Going with some lighter clothes as we prepare for the day. Seems like sun will be shining just as strong as yesterday. Looking forward to more conversations with interested folks.

As things were winding down last night I had the chance to talk to an interested couple of folks who had just traveled through Oregon and wanted to know what the story was with all the clear cuts. Unfortunately, Oregon is not only known for good camping spots (which I have heard alot) but also for rampant scarred hillsides.

The clear-cuts did lead us to an interesting discussion about harnessing the power and interest of rural communities to get work done in the forest that would improve conditions and restore the forest. We were essentially talking about the Siuslaw model and these two Californians had stumbled across it just by thinking about it for a little while. No wonder we call it the Common Sense vision.

On our way to Jack London soon.

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Live blogging SalmonAid

A day spent celebrating and raising awareness for salmon.

The second year of SalmonAid is also Oregon Wild's second year of participation. The SalmonAid festival is the largest gathering of West Coast salmon advocates in the country and brings together conservationists, tribes, commercial fishermen and more. Yours truly, will be manning the Oregon Wild table at the festival while Klamath Campaign Coordinator Ani Kame'enui helps staff the event to keep things running smoothly. Throughout the day today (and tomorrow) I'll try and keep y'all up to date on the SalmonAid happenings.

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They're doing the dam thing

They're doing the dam thing

Posted by Sean Stevens at Jun 10, 2009 11:07 AM |

Crews are well under way removing Savage Rapids Dam on the Rogue River.

Back in September 0f 2008 Oregon Wild celebrated a long and hard fought victory as demolition crews blew up Elk Creek Dam. For decades, the concrete structure sat blocking a tributary of the Rogue River as politician after politician supported the boondoggle of a project that was destined to be a drain on taxpayers and a fish-killer.

It's gone now. Elk Creek and the salmon and steelhead that live there are free.

Down river aways, the process is playing out again.

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Dam removal takes a back seat in the Klamath

Dam removal takes a back seat in the Klamath

When a California conservation group speaks out against linking dam removal to anti-wildlife and anti-salmon initiatives, a Bush-backed settlement process gives them the boot.

Back in 2007, Oregon Wild and our sister group WaterWatch of Oregon were evicted from Bush administration-backed “settlement talks” in the Klamath Basin over our opposition to continuing commercial agricultural development on National Wildlife Refuges and reduced water flows for threatened coho salmon.  Now a California group, the Northcoast Environmental Center, is getting similar treatment—this time for advocating that dam removal should not be tied to anti-environmental initiatives on water and wildlife. This comes after the Hoopa Valley Tribe took a similar stand, saying the Bush-initiated settlement could mean extinction for Klamath salmon.

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A dam if you like mercury

A dam if you like mercury

Posted by Sean Stevens at Apr 27, 2009 12:00 AM |

With eyes on stimulus dollars, Douglas County Commissioners pursue a "damnable dam."

Back in 1994, Oregon Wild (then Oregon Natural Resources Council) published a report entitled 15 Damnable Dams. The idea was to spotlight a surge in proposed dam construction that would harm fish habitat, alter streams and rivers, and, in one case, poison a river.

From the report:

"Building the dam would create a 4.5-mile long reservoir on a tributary to the the Umpqua River called Elk Creek. The reservoir could end up being contaminated with mercury. Six of 14 water tests done in 1986 and 1987 in Elk Creek showed mercury readings above the maximum allowed for human consumption. In addition, the Milltown Dam would destroy at least 4.5 miles of fish habitat by drowning it initially with deep water and later with silt and sediment"

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Photography as a Conservation Advocate

Photography as a Conservation Advocate

"A photograph is worth a thousand words." That's a gross underestimate if you ask me, especially when you're talking about natural and wild places.

Getting the perfect shotAs a young child, I remember always being especially drawn to photography more than any other art form.  I could never draw, heck I could barely trace. As for painting, my skills seemed more suited for houses (as long as we used lots and lots of drop cloths). In terms of other art forms, I've been told that I'm a good dancer, that's really more of a special occasion kind of thing for me.

In high school, I took a ceramics class and upon the completion of one vase after another, I'd present my mom with a gift that only a mother could be proud of. Each vase was displayed prominently in the house. A few days later, however, I'd inevitably find each vase stashed away in the closet. Maybe they'll become precious artifacts one day.  

Cold Spring Creek Yet, I always found myself interested in photography. Like many people, my photography started with taking pictures of friends and family (with our dog Niki being fairly over-represented). I was always amazed at the ways to manipulate and capture the complexity of light. I was intrigued by the stories that each photography could tell. For me, a very real sense of place was captured with photography. To look at photographs of forests, mountains, and wildlife in particular really seemed to affect me in a way that no other art form can. So I guess its no real surprise that my photography really started to take on a new and invigorating life when I began exploring and backpacking all over the country.

The rock formations of southern Utah, the mountains of Alaska, the high deserts of New Mexico...they all soon became my favorite subjects. Then eight years ago, I moved to Oregon and discovered the endless amounts of subject in every direction: the coast, the arid landscape of the eastside, the mountains, the rivers, the wildlife, and the lush, old-growth forests

Telling people where you've been can make for a compelling story, but being able to show them what you saw through your lens - how the light crept into the canyon just perfectly, how the golden autumn leaves just popped out at you, and how the dappled sunlight softly illuminated the forest floor - now that tells a story.  

So, it was an absolute pleasure to shepherd the first-ever Oregon Wild Photography hike to Tamanawas Falls last Saturday. Joined by photographer and program director at the Newspace Center for Photography, Laura Valenti, we had a real professional there to help us capture the images we wanted. Our crew of photo hikers, armed with tripods, every camera imaginable, and even, gasp, some film (including myself), found ourselves the lucky recipients of a beautifully lit autumn day on the east side of Mount Hood. As we strolled along the East Fork Hood River and the crystal clear Cold Spring Creek on our way to Tamanawas Falls, I'd estimate that no fewer than 40,000 photographs were taken.  

Autumn leavesAt the Falls, the colors were nothing short of fantastic.  The golden leaves were shining in the sun and the mist from the waterfall was catching the sunlight just perfectly. 

Tamanawas Falls in autumn

Throughout the day, each of us sought to capture the incredible day that we were having. We took pictures of the falls from every possible direction (including behind it).  And hopefully, we'll be able to use those photos to show other people why protecting these areas is so important. You see, the area we ventured to isn't protected. In fact, most of the areas that Oregon Wild leads hikes to aren't protected. It's our hope that bringing people out to these areas will create a sense of connection to that place and a greater urgency to help us protect it.

It's in that way that our cameras can lend a lot of support to our voices as we call for the protection of Tamanawas Falls, our old-growth forests, and our roadless areas across the state. So while when I was younger most of my photos were of friends and family, most of my photos now tend to be of the places that I visit - places that need protection.  Although, I must admit that I still take a lot of photos of my dog, Suna.

Not all dam deals are dead ends

Not all dam deals are dead ends

The Carmen Smith relicensing agreement ain't perfect, but there aren't any deal killers.

Dams have done a lot of damage in the West. Think Hetch Hetchy, Glen Canyon, the lower Klamath dams, and the lower Snake River dams.

In Oregon, dams have also pumped cheap electricity into our communities. That's why Oregon Wild takes each dam relicensing process as it comes and works with interested stakeholders to find a balanced solution. The solution isn't always perfect, but we make sure that if we're signing on, we're not approving provisions that are unnecesarry and ultimately harmful for fish, wildlife, or people.

Yesterday, we signed on to a deal for the Carmen-Smith Project on the Upper McKenzie that fits the bill of a reasonable settlement--it's not perfect, but it is our best bet for helping fish and wildlife impacted by the operation of the dams on the river. The deal was inked by EWEB (Eugene Water & Electric Board) along with several Indian tribes, state agencies, and conservation groups (see the full list of signatories here).

The most important provisions in the deal (as described here by Susan Palmer at the Reg. Guard) are mitigation efforts at Trail Bridge Dam on the main stem of the McKenzie where a fish ladder downstream will help Chinook salmon migrate above the dam and into tributary streams where they can spawn. Additionally, EWEB will be required to place fish screens upstream of the dam to prevent endangered fish from being sucked into turbines on their way to the ocean.

After the conclusion of the negotiating process on the Carmen-Smith settlement, I immediately started thinking about the more contentious dam relicensing fight to the south--in the Klamath. The need to remove the four dams on the lower Klamath is clear, but groups have been struggling to come to an agreement that protects all of the Klamath Basin's amazing natural resources. Part of the problem has been an insistence by the Bush administration to reward political allies by sacrificing conservation values at two of the most important National Wildlife Refuges in the country.

Maybe with a new president and with an eye towards the balanced (although imperfect) compromise at Carmen-Smith, we can finally see progress in the Klamath in the coming year.

Words from the wild

Words from the wild

Posted by Regna Merritt at Jul 31, 2008 12:00 AM |

Many talented authors call Oregon home and derive their inspiration from the natural world around us.

I was happy to meet Liz Nakazawa yesterday. She shared her book, Deer Drink the Moon, an anthology of poems inspired by special places in Oregon. The selections are organized by Oregon ecoregion and are written by Oregon poets (including poet laureate William Stafford). Liz generously gave a copy of the book to Oregon Wild.

The anthology spurred me to think about other writers in Oregon who share a passion for describing the beauty and wonder of our natural landscape. One of our favorites is John Daniel, author of Rogue River Journal and a past presenter at Oregon Wild Wednesday. His stories of his time spent in solitude along the Wild Rogue are inspiring and a reminder of how special wild places are.

I'd love to hear about others' experiences with Oregon outdoor literature. Please feel free to add a comment below and tell us about a local author you like or a story about Oregon that meant something to you.


Canoes, Sunsets and White Pelicans

Canoes, Sunsets and White Pelicans

Join Oregon Wild on a great opportunity to Tour the Klamath Basin with our expert staff as your guides.

The Klamath Basin. Chances are you're like me. Maybe you’ve seen some stunning photos on our website or in our newsletter. Maybe you've read about the Oregon Wild work to protect and restore this place often called the "Everglades of the West"--but that's all you know. You've never been there. You've never visited the six National Wildlife Refuges in the area. You've never enjoyed the marsh music of thousands of songbirds before the sun goes down. You’ve never hiked the Williamson Canyon. You've never been to see the place that Oregon Wild is helping to protect and preserve for future generations. Well--that can all change--and we are making it easy. You're invited to join us for a special Klamath Basin Tour from July 10-13th.

Not only will you get a chance to see this amazing place, but experienced Oregon Wild staff will be your guides. Explore and learn about the Klamath with the people who know it best. Wendell Wood, renowned naturalist and Klamath expert will lead our trip. Joining him will be our conservation director, Steve Pedery; Klamath campaign coordinator, Ani Kame'enui; and executive director Regna Merritt.

One of the best aspects of this trip is that it's limited to a small group of people. We get to stay at the Crystalwood Lodge, nestled on the northwest edge of the Upper Klamath National Wildlife Refuge. The trip cost is $550 per person. At that price we barely break even, but we want to keep it as affordable as possible.

I'm sure you'll agree it's a great value when you realize it includes roundtrip transportation from Portland (we can even try and arrange to pick you up from the Eugene area), three nights lodging, six meals, plus the services of our expert guides. Additionally, it includes canoes for us to use to explore the amazing, easy-to-paddle Upper Klamath Canoe Trail. Steve, our conservation director, says it's an undiscovered gem. Plus, we can launch our canoes right outside the door of our lodge!

Still note sure? Wondering what's in store? Just to wet your appetite, we'll enjoy dinner, drinks and an overview and slideshow about the Klamath upon our arrival on Thursday evening. On Friday, we'll tour some of the southern Klamath National Wildlife Refugees for some birding, hikes and view Petroglyph Point before we have a dinner in Klamath Falls on our way back the lodge. Saturday brings different opportunities for some hikes, and we'll spend half the day canoeing on the outstanding Upper Klamath Lake Canoe Trail. Our day will end with a fine dinner at the Rocky Point Resort with great views of the Upper Klamath Wildlife Refuge. Finally on Sunday, we'll have a short hike and visit a restoration project before heading back to Portland.

Everyone who attended our previous Klamath Tour had fun. I encourage you to reserve your spot online today. If you have any questions please feel free to call me directly at 503-283-6343 x223 or send me an email,

One last thing. I finally made it to the Klamath last year with Wendell as my guide. And it was like a light went on. I got it. I got to experience the amazing Wildlife Refugees and learn about the important Oregon Wild work to ensure this area is protected and restored for future generations.

The Klamath Basin is an amazing place, sometimes a place of contradictions, but always a place of discovery.

If it's one of those Oregon places you've always said to yourself, "I got to visit the Klamath Wildlife Refuges and experience what it's all about," don't wait any longer. Sign up for the Oregon Wild Klamath Basin Tour--you'll be glad you did.

Oregon's not so hidden treasure

Oregon's not so hidden treasure

Posted by Sean Stevens at Apr 01, 2008 12:00 AM |

Natural icons Mount Hood, the Wild Rogue and Oregon Caves National Monument are all one step closer to additional protection today thanks to a couple of Oregon elected officials.

They're calling it the "Oregon Treasures" proposal. And if there is one thing that Mount Hood and the Wild Rogue are, it is natural treasures of our great state. The list of treasure for Congressmen Earl Blumenauer and Peter DeFazio includes 132,000 acres on Mt. Hood, 142 miles of river surrounding the Rogue and 4,000 acres near Oregon Caves.

Hopefully, we aren't talking about buried treasure, though. As in the kind that takes another five years to dig out from the pile of Pombos and Coburns and Bush appointees. Although, with the number of people that support Wilderness protection for Mount Hood and Wild and Scenic protections for the Wild Rogue--with a few million shovels--we could probably dig our way out.

For Mount Hood, this House proposal goes along nicely with the Senate bill that has already passed out of committee. It actually adds in a few areas here and there, including what's known as the Salmon Huckleberry Keyhole, a patch of old-growth forest left out of the original Salmon Huckleberry Wilderness designated in 1984. Why is it called a keyhole you ask? Well, it's a gap right in the middle of 44,000 acre Wilderness area, left unprotected so that the logging industry could have at it. Well, if Blumenauer and DeFazio get there way, they'll close the loophole by making the keyhole protected.

Of course, like many things Congress produces, this proposed bill is not perfect. One hundred and forty two miles of Wild and Scenic rivers is alot, but think about all the land surrounding those tributaries. Governor Ted Kulongoski was thinking about those areas when he advocated for their protection in a letter to the Oregon delegation in February. One thing that would make this "Oregon Treasures" proposal really sparkle would be adding in protections for 58,000 acres of rugged backcountry in the Rogue River valley.

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