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First Fish

Posted by on Nov 26, 2015 in Blog |

They’re back!   Addendum – Yesterday (Dec. 6), a week after spotting the first returning coho, we discovered that the fish apparently bring important escorts with them.  While walking the creek bank, I was surprised and pleased to scare up a large, mature Bald Eagle from a creekside sand bar.  With much effort, the big bird jumped into the air and struggled to gain the elevation needed to clear my head and the riparian alder behind me.  With labored flaps, it headed downstream.  It seems likely that I accidently disturbed the lunch it was making from recently returned and spawned out salmon.  This leaves us wondering what other species are drawn back to the creek and forest when they know that the table is once again set? Looked for more fish on both Dec. 5 and 6, but found none.  The creek was high and getting both higher and more turbid.  This makes it increasingly tough to spot the Coho that may be there.  As shown in this graph.   “Our” Coho are old hands at dealing with such challenges and are spending tonight waiting the flooding out in some secure backwater.  We’ll see what tomorrow...

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This Dark, Soggy, Rotting, and Wonderful Time of Year

Posted by on Nov 18, 2015 in Blog |

There are may pleasures that come with working day in, day out in a wild forest.  High on the list is our visceral engagement with the forests’ many faces and ever changing seasons.  We enjoy keeping track of the interesting questions that people ask about the life in the forests.  One common question is: “what is your favorite season in the forests?”.  Perhaps I sound like the kindergarten teacher wanting every student to be a winner, but I am sincere in explaining that there are many wonderful things to look forward to in every season. This fall, as daylight shortens, temperatures drop, rain gear fails to completely dry overnight, and dark rains become progressively more welcomely common, I am struck by how much I enjoy this time of year.  Gone are the days of worrying about the express growth of blackberries overwhelming everything, or the whole place burning up, or working in next to no clothing and still being hot beside dry, silent creek beds. Good forestry is as much about death and decay as it is about birth and growth.  This is a good season to observe and learn from that.  Rot abounds – and is an essential part of our forests’ health and productivity. As a reminder of that, here is a shot of bright fungi having their way on oak in our sawmill log deck.   Rot on!  But please give me a few more good years before I also become food for the forest....

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Who’s Telling? Where Does Truth Lie?

Posted by on Nov 18, 2015 in Blog |

We, as Oregonians, have good reason to stay well informed about the condition of the forests – public and private – in this remarkably forested state. But how do we best do that?  Do we base our understandings on the widely shared communications provided via TV, radio, e-mail, and Pandora, by the Oregon Forest Resources Institute, or do we work to learn from the growing array of additional information sources? For those of you who want to learn more about both the state of our forests and the related state of our story telling about Oregon forests, here are a few links that may be of interest. We hope and expect that you will join us in being critical consumers of all of these stories, looking for solid facts to support claims and rigor in the weighty work of story telling.  How are our forests doing – and why? This is Our Watershed  – A short look at conditions in the watersheds behind Rockaway Beach:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A5Y9TPVFupU Beyond the Emerald Curtain  – A recent film by Shane Anderson and Pacific Rivers.  Screenings happening around the state and available free online in the spring of 2016  – www.pacificrivers.org Logrolling  – A recent piece in Willamette Week  – http://www.wweek.com/2015/09/09/logrolling/ Fallout – Coverage of Oregon forestry in High Country News – http://www.hcn.org/issues/46.19/timberland-herbicide-spraying-sickens-a-community   Who’s telling this story anyway?  ...

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Looking Drought in the Eye

Posted by on Nov 17, 2015 in Blog |

Until this fall I’ve escaped living with the first hand consequences of drought.  Sure, I have had my share of hot, dry adventures where we hunted for a drink of water as dust swirled around, but never before have I watched the seasonal patterns of water on the land and said to myself “this is not normal”.  This fall, the reality of drought has settled in in our Timber forest as we discuss what to do about the low level of the water in the well and listen, in vain, for the comfortable burble of water flowing down the creek bed behind the cabin. The welcome, heavy rains of fall have set in, but the water level in the well remains distressingly low and the creek bed has no flow to bring it back to life.   Stay tuned – as we keep watching, listening, and...

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It’s Time – What Time?

Posted by on Nov 17, 2015 in Blog |

“How do they know?”   – Visitors come to the forest to enjoy watching and celebrating the return of spawning salmon to Lousignont Creek.  While taking it all in, common questions asked include: “How do the Coho know when it is time to leave the ocean and return upriver to spawn?” and “how do humans along the rivers know when to expect the returning salmon to arrive?”.  While working near the banks of the creek, I recently noticed something that provides one answer to both good questions.  Looking up from my work, I watched a large, yellow leaf fall softly and gracefully from the canopy of a Big leaf maple into the creek’s current.  After settling gently on the surface, the current of clear, cold water carried the leaf off toward the Pacific. The reason why this sight automatically triggers in me “ah, the Coho should be headed upriver soon” is rooted in a belief held and shared by many native people in this rain coast region.  The timing is explained this way:  as fall progresses, salmon move from the sea into the coastal estuaries, waiting for a sign to tell them that conditions are right to head upriver.  Up in the headwaters, maple leaves change from green to yellow and brown – and then fall from the branches.  According to some native beliefs, when each maple leaf hits the water’s surface, it may be silent to us two leggeds, but it booms like the striking of a large drum to the salmon downstream.  Hearing the boom, they set off to climb the 1,000 vertical feet up to the spawning beds in the Timber Forest.   For the roughly 10,000 years that humans have watched sustaining salmon pass upstream in this Nehalem River system, many of us have known that the falling leaves remind us when to start keeping a sharp eye out for that first, hope kindling flash of silver and red. If a system works, why not stick with...

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