Thursday, April 23, 2009


I think I'm starting to see a pattern here. My day began with computer networking problems (lame) and reading some literature (slightly less lame). After lunch, we drove over to Grant's Pass (about 45 minutes away) to meet with a a guy from the local watershed stewards non-profit (Dan). He was looking for some "support" from the local Forest Service fisheries biologist (Ian) to backup a couple of grant proposals for nearby stream restoration projects. The projects mostly involve adding large woody debris to the stream channel to create meanders and fish-harbouring pools in the streambed. We had to visit the sites so Ian was comfortable giving his support.

The first stream we visited had the streambed heavily altered by anthropogenic means. It was mostly straightened to have less affect on the surrounding ranches/farms, but there was also some changes to the stream bank itself. We met with two of the land owners that the proposed restoration project would affect. They were some colorful characters. The first guy, Charlie, was retired, but still raising cattle and gardening on his land that straddled the stream. He was mostly concerned with his cattle getting into the creek and getting loose if the watershed stewards removed the wall of invasive blackberries along the bank, but was amenable to the project. When asked if he would like native trees planted along the edge of the stream, he said he would like fruit trees. Not really what we had in mind... Charlie owned 1/10 of a mile of the 8/10 of a mile of stream to be restored. The other 7/10 was owned by a rancher and jack-of-all-trades, Tom. He grows hay, owns a construction company, owned his own quarry, did some trucking, etc., etc. He liked the idea, but was concerned that the project would affect and possibly reduce his hay producing fields. He had owned his land (and farmed it) since 1953 and had some great stories about the area and "how things used to be." He told one story about clearing out algae from the Rogue River with a Caterpillar; he actually drove in the Rogue! His attitude towards land use policy was definitely not one of minimal effects on the environment, but rather that the environment was nice, but would eventually- if it knew what was good for it- bend to his will. He sprayed often for weed control and crossed his creek often with trucks, tractors, and trailers. I was surprised he was interested in what Dan was offering, but it was essentially free.

It was good to see what Dan what up against and to experience that aspect of stream restoration. As Ian said, he was one half fish biologist and one half used car salesman. He was trying to sell the idea while negotiating and compromising with what the land owners want. I thought that he didn't do a very good job explaining to the land owners why we were out there and what the restoration could accomplish and how it might benefit them. Ian later told me that Dan had been the head fisheries biologist for the Siskiyou district way back when and it definitely was evident that he a similar stance to land use that the Forest Service does: "the greatest good for the greatest number for the longest time." Not necessarily environment first.

We then went to another proposed restoration site. Not much of interest there, but a really cool stream. It was a long day though; 8:00am- 7:00pm.

No notes of interest. Boring.

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