Field Trip!

Yesterday I went along on a pair of site visits for my job. The idea was to see what was going on in the field so I could understand my new job a little better.

The first stop of the day was at a pair of sites along middle Crabtree Creek. The South Santiam Watershed Council is working on phase one restoration project, and they have a new grant in for phase two, which would restore 32 more acres and do some creek enhancement through wood placement. The visit was to look at the site and ask questions about the projects, including lessons learned.

Of course, I don’t know enough to really ask questions, but it was fascinating listening to the conversations between BLM, Forest Service, OWEB, and various biologists about the details of the project.

It was also very interesting hearing about the politics of getting landowners involved in the project. Most landowners in this area are farmers, and taking a couple of acres out of production can be a big deal for them. This landowner was a larger farmer who was interested in improving his brand by going completely organic. They had bad experiences with the Federal government in the past, but were willing to try again with smaller government.

After this stop, we traveled along the south Santiam to an area called Soda Fork Creek where the South Santiam Watershed Council was proposing a second grant. They took us to Soda Fork to show a similar, very successful project; they had tipped trees into the stream to create better Winter Steelhead habitat.

Before and after this site, the stream was just bedrock, but here gravel and twigs had built up around the tipped trees. The scientists explained that this is the kind of habitat that winter stealhead like. I also heard a lot about how the fish in this area were important “genetic heritage” fish. Basically they hadn’t been contaminated by farmed fish and were one of the few remaining pure strains.

After viewing the goal, we went up the creek to look at a place called Moose Creek where they wanted to do something similar.

redosite1It will be interesting to see if these two projects get funded and how they turn out.

Along the way I saw lots of pretty birds, flowers, and livestock. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did!