A pretty cool article about habitat restoration of Crystal Spring Creek. Native fish are finding their way home. If there is hope for them in metropolis, we can surely be hopeful of restoration in some of our wilder areas that have been impacted by humans. Check it out :Reed Canyon restoration article
Some more info from the college site, check it at: Reed Canyon site
Some footage of native fish caught on camera in the Reed Canyon area:
I haven't been fishing lately with all the high water but I have been listening to some great music among other things. Here is something you might enjoy.
Enrique Casal has to be one of the finest unknown guitar players around. The tone of his guitar, his singing and playing are so eerily close to Hendrix it's almost scary.This guy can flat get it done. Very tight playing. I don't know of anyone around today that is killing this stuff like he is. This was shot in Switzerland where the band is all from.....I wish they would come over and play sometime. If you appreciate good playing at all you will quickly realize that while virtually unknown,this guy is a guitar GIANT. I like Zappa's Muffin Man at the end. Sweet!
The first link below is a great description of the Fish Creek watershed and all of the diversity found there. Miles of historic spawning area in a pristine setting. There are some natural barriers/falls that potentially block fish from going into the upper reaches. However,the diversion dam,canal and flume on the creek aren't going to do the fish any favors IF they get up there with the new passage at Soda Springs.There is a lot more going on up there then most people know.
Check it -Fish Creek watershed
The whole Pacificorp project has a total of 8 dams, along with flumes,canals and diversions. This project is anything but low impact. These watersheds have been seriously degraded by both logging and this water diversion and power production. I am amazed at the amount of stuff there is back up these canyons. Mostly bidden from the eyes of the public due to the remoteness of the area. Soda Springs dam is most visible but only one of the eight. EIGHT dams on a river the size of the upper North Umpqua. That boggles the mind people. They are not Hoover dam sized but they don't need to be.
The second link below shows the entire project and describes each of the different hydro components. At the bottom of the second link page are numerous comments and thoughts from many who were against the re-license agreement and why they were against it. Some good reading here, and although this project has made it through the re-license agreement, I just wanted to show people the impact on this whole watershed......it's far reaching.
Check it - Not so Low Impact Hydro
The Steamboat Struggle, on its way out? Steamboat Falls Fish Ladder Assessment and Design Project
The Steamboat Falls Fish Ladder on the North Umpqua River is deteriorating. The ladder was originally constructed in 1957 after some blasting in the area destroyed the natural path for fish migrating upstream. It was demolished in 1964 and again rebuilt in 1965-1966. That is the last time it was substantially restored.
Today, summer steelhead are making their way up the river. Unfortunately, when they reach Steamboat Falls the steelhead tend to push more towards the spillway due to the attraction flow to that area. The second level of the spillway is far too shallow and fast for the fish, making it an impassable obstacle.
One of the reasons the ladder is often less enticing for the fish is that the antique structure gets blocked, primarily during fall and winter. This can slow the water trickling through or halt it entirely, making the ladder virtually invisible to these instinctive creatures. Even when the ladder does flow freely, it cannot compete with the temptation of the spillway.
Lead Fish Biologist for the Umpqua National Forest, Jeff Dose, believes most of the fish do find the ladder eventually, evidenced in July by the 60-some steelhead, cutthroat and Chinook up the river at Lee Spencer's Fishwatch station at Upper Bend Pool. The fish just waste valuable time getting upriver.
As Jeff stood near the ladder, watching the steelhead attempt time and again to conquer that spillway, he simply shook his head and muttered, "That's not good." He explains that not only is the impossible challenge not healthy for the fish but it leaves them wide open for poaching."We want them to use this ladder and make their way upstream to Big Bend pool or to another holding area."
Efforts to rectify the ladder's shortcomings received a $20,000 kick start in 2009 from Title II of the Secure Rural Schools legislation. At a Rogue-Umpqua Resource Advisory Committee meeting held in 2010, the committee approved another $23,000 to re-design the ladder. The contract will be awarded to the project in March 2011.
The Title II funding is just the beginning. A meeting to discuss the options improving the ladder is set for late August. All the dedicated partners will attend the meeting, including Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife, The North Umpqua Foundation, Steamboaters, and U.S. Forest Service. While there, the partners will deliberate on how to best fulfill their shared goals for the ladder in the most cost-effective manner.
Experts are re-designing the fish ladder with two main goals: reduce sediment and debris clogging the fishway and improve the attraction flow to the ladder. Costs will range between $200,000 and $800,000, depending on which of three alternatives are used.
Jeff is optimistic about the future for the Steamboat Falls Fish Ladder and it would appear that concrete steps are being made to assure its long overdue revamping.
Directions: Steamboat Falls is located on Steamboat Creek approximately five miles upstream from the confluence with the North Umpqua River. At milepost 38.3 on Oregon State Highway 138, turn north on Steamboat Road #38. Drive 5.3 miles to Road 3810, turn right and stay to the left for 0.6 miles to the entrance of Steamboat Falls Campground. The 25-foot falls are near campsites 5 & 6.
Below is some additional info and link for the fish passage improvements scheduled for Steamboat Falls in the next few years. The current ladder(shown below) goes through the cement structure on the right side emerging above the falls in the small calm pool. This passage is outdated and prone to blockage. The new plan addresses these issues and will hopefully improve the situation.
Here is a link to the approved plan,costs and what will be involved over the next few years.
Steamboat Falls fish ladder improvement plan
So the fish passage construction at the Soda Springs dam has been underway for a while now. Actual construction began in 2009 and should be complete by 2011. It would have been a great thing to see this dam go away, but after the re license agreement of 2001 this will not be a reality for some time....maybe not ever. The thing that gets me is this dam does not directly provide power or benefit to anyone in Douglas county, The power produced here goes into the Pacific Power Grid and could be sent wherever. Most likely somewhere they can get an maximum profit.Another example of the rich getting richer on our public resources,and the people,fish and resources most affected left hanging.
While the fish passage is a good thing,and at this point the only thing that can be done to get fish into the spawning areas above,it is still far cry from a free and clear natural passage. It is an olive branch from the power company to say that they are doing great things for the fish. This is about a sixty million dollar olive branch . And as I said before, when it is all said and done the odds of them tearing it down anytime soon is almost an impossibility in my lifetime. No, this puppy will probably be around when my kids are grown up. Much like the fish passage on the Deschutes at Pelton Dam.....it will be a long time before anyone can say if it worked or not. At least a long time before anyone admits that it worked or not.
The good thing is the fish passage will allow fish to get above the dam into pristine spawning habitat.Fish are resilient and the will they WILL get there eventually. The bad thing is that despite this passage, the dam still holds back major spawning gravels for fish BELOW the dam. This gravel has been blocked since the 1950's when the dam was built. With winter fish being main stem(North Fork) spawners this lack of gravel has surely impacted the amount and quality of the spawning areas that fish use.There has been some attempt to introduce gravel below the dam but surely it has not been what the natural dispersal would have been on an annual basis.Additionally the water flow is obviously controlled to produce power and not rise and fall in a rhythm with the seasons. This fact alone will not allow the gravel that has been introduced in the last few years to be washed down steam. A nice gesture but it cannot replace what nature does on it's own.
In the end, tons of politics, big business getting bigger and the fish get not much more than a nod on this one. Sure some jobs were created but those workers are not making the majority of the money here. Someone in a big chair smoking a cigar as well as stockholders stand to make money on this whole re-license agreement as time goes by.
Like I said however small,it is a nod to the fish and in the right direction but maybe to little too late.But to see salmon and steelhead up in the Fish Creek area would be very cool. Maybe there is a little silver lining in every cloud.
Links to a few articles on the whole dam issue:
Fish Passage at Soda Springs
Pacific Corp dragging their feet.
Natural History of a
Wild Summer Steelhead Refuge Pool
in the Western Cascades of Oregon
The North Umpqua Foundation
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A stranger comes down into the viewing area at the pool and sees the steelhead.
“What are these fish?”
“What are the rest?”