Thursday, June 4, 2009


Time to play catch up...

Today was the beginning of the two best days of "work" ever.

First, we did some Port Orford Cedar surveying. Port Orford Cedars have recently (in the lsat couple of decades) been deccimated by a root disease caused by a fungal pathogen. Recently, a resistant strain of POC was found and an experiment was set up to see just how resistant they are. So we surveyed a couple of hundred trees on several treatment plots to see which trees have survived or perished since they were planted by volunteers a year ago.

Then, four of us from the Forest Service and one guy from ODFW (Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife) hiked into Babyfoot Lake to do some fish "monitoring." An explanation of the quotes to come... Babyfoot is a mountain lake located in the Kalmiopsis Wilderness, west of Cave Junction. The Kalmiopsis was engulfed by the Biscuit Fire back in 2002, so it is just starting to rebound from that disturbance and there are thousands of standing dead pine (pictured below) that eerily hung over us for the easyish mile and a half hike in. Babyfoot is (I believe) the only stocked lake in the Kalmiopsis. It was stocked with steelhead several years ago by the local chapter of the Steelheaders Club. These members (the youngest of which is something like 48 years old, but most being in their sixties) carried one year old smolts in five gallon buckets full of water and ice strapped to their chests all the way to the lake. Ian told me that one stocking year there was a foot of snow on the trail and another was swelteringly hot. Impressive. Anyway, sometime recently someone took it upon themselves to bring largemouth bass into the lake the same way and do a little stocking of their own. Unfortunately, the bass can outcompete the steelhead and also predate upon them, so dramatically decrease the steelhead population.

We came to the lake to deduce some things about the status of the two fish populations, to see if the bass population is increasing or decreasing and if it may need to be eradicated, and to see if it would be wise to further stock the lake with steelhead. Luckily, our sampling method consisted of fishing with rod and reel. We arrived at the lake around 5:00 pm, set up camp, and began sampling for the next three hours. Much to the two girls' chagrin, Ian and I were the only ones who caught anything. Ian caught one steelhead while I caught one steelhead and seven bass. The steelhead were recorded and, of course, released. The bass were kept, filleted, cooked in flour and butter, and eaten. Steve (the ODFW guy) brought all manner of goodness to eat as well. He brought a fillet of salmon, a hunk of elk, and some cheap corned beef hash (all of which was cooked over the fire). The bass may have actually been the best of all, but it was all awesomely delicious and an excellent way to finish an excellent day.

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