Fire’s Positive Impact on Fish Habitat

George Wuerthner is one of the most interesting ecologists and activists I have met, and certainly the most prolific writer.  He has written dozens of books and many more articles on wildfire, predators, and the environmental impact of ranching, along with water and fishery issues.  His views are often controversial, especially regarding fire, but compelling when carefully considered.  In short, George believes that forest thinning does not help catastrophic wildfire control.  He argues we should focus on creating fire resistant buildings, establishing defensible borders, and leaving forests alone.  The explanation for this is beyond the scope of this post, but here’s a video he sent me on the beneficial nature of fire in stream and river systems.  It’s worth a quick view.

Another Warm Water Blob is Forming

Oregon Public Broadcasting reported yesterday that another warm water “blob” is forming off the Pacific Coast.  This blob is likely to be as large as the last one which collapsed much of the food web that many cold water marine species rely on.  “Scientists expect the heat wave to hurt salmon populations and the fisheries that depend on them.”  Of course, chinook salmon and steelhead have not recovered from the last blob and returns this year in the Columbia basin (including the Deschutes) are at perilously low levels.

ODFW R&E Meeting in Bend

I am a member of the ODFW Restoration & Enhancement Board.  You may not be aware of this, but a portion of every fishing license is directed to the R&E board where we decide how to spend it.  About half the funds are earmarked for the repair of ODFW fish hatcheries and the rest toward improving fishing opportunities.  This could be anything from boat ramps and docks, to dam removal, to habitat projects, to invasive species removal, some basic science, etc.  It’s a very interesting board to sit on with some great tours of projects all over the state.  Our next meeting is in Bend on September 6th with a tour on September 5th.  Both are open to the public.

New ODFW Commissioner in Sisters

The ODFW Commission oversees the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife and sets policies and regulations.  A majority of the Commission is new this year and for the first time in decades a Central Oregon resident is a member.  I had the pleasure to spend an hour with Mark Labhart yesterday and found him to be quite informed about statewide fishing.  Mark has an impressive background in public service, recently relocated from Tillamook to Sisters, and is eager to dive in to learn local issues.  I’m looking forward to working with and learning from him.

 

Columbia Basin Steelhead Update

David Moskowitz of The Conservation Angler sent me this report on current run counts.  It’s only two pages and worth reading.  As of August 15, the numbers are even worse than the very low pre-season forecast.  Only 40,080 total steelhead (wild and hatchery) passed through Bonneville Dam from July 1 through August 15.  That’s 27.1% of the past 10 year average.  It’s important to note that the 10 year average is low to begin with as the past 10 years have seen declining runs.  It’s only 19.4% of the best ten year average since counts started.  As I wrote here, we anglers have to question targeting these fish at all given the path to extinction they could be on.