Friday, November 30, 2007

Central Oregonians turning Deschutes into poop-chute

I know some of us on think the sprawling development in Cetral Oregon is a pile of shit, but this is ridiculous. According to a study from the U.S. Geological Survey:

The Deschutes and Little Deschutes Rivers in southern Deschutes and northern Klamath Counties, which receive part of their flow from ground water, are vulnerable to contamination by wastewater from conventional on-site wastewater treatment (septic) systems, according to the findings of a study by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). The USGS investigation was a part of efforts by Deschutes County and the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality to assess environmental impacts in a 250-square-mile area near La Pine, Oregon, where increasing residential development has led to increases in nitrate concentrations in ground water that drains to rivers.

Nitrates from people's home septic systems are leaching towards Oregon's blue ribbon trout stream. Nitrates promote excessive growth of aquatic plants and algae, causing large variations in dissolved oxygen concentration and pH that can be harmful to fish and other aquatic organisms.

Deschutes County is battling the problem by trying to establish new rules, including the requirement that new construction projects adopt the highest performing nitrogen removal systems available and all existing systems need to be upgraded in ten years. So why not a closed loop sewer system? County officials say it would take too long.

Audubon: Oregon birds spiraling toward extinction

The Oregonian wrote up a survey by the Audubon Society that says more than 50 birds that spend part of the year in Oregon are spiraling toward extinction:

While the list includes some species such as the spotted owl and marbled murrelet that have received wide notoriety because they are in trouble, it also includes lesser-known species such as Lewis' woodpecker (pictured), the willow flycatcher and varied thrush.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Cabela's real estate arm betrays hunters?

Thanks to Tony Heckard at BHA for passing this on: According to a column in New West, Cabela's is getting itself in trouble in Montana for promoting the privatization of hunting land through its real estate marketing arm, Cabela's Trophy Properties LLC.

From the column: Cabela's doesn't actually buy and sell land. Instead, it licenses its brand to local real estate brokers and allows them to market prime hunting and fishing properties under the banner of Cabela's Trophy Properties. The brokers pay Cabela's for the license, probably with a license fee and a slice of the commission on property sales... Licensing your name to realtors who use it to market property definitely makes you part of the real estate biz--and not just any real estate biz, but the worst kind.

The article goes into depth explaining how Cabela's exacerbated the problem in Montana. But it's not just the Rocky Mountain states that need to worry about this public access issue. Cabela's is marketing prime wildlife habitat here in Oregon and it could drive the loss of public hunting access on private land in other states.

Here are a few of Oregon's properties listed under Cabela's Trophy Properties:
  • About 600 acres in the Ochoco Creek Valley southeast of Prineville, OR is going for $16.6 million.
  • Or you could pick up the Inshallah Ranch for $12 million. "Tremendous potential for an appreciation of value on this acquisition exists, as demand for quality big game hunting ranches continues to accelerate," the Cabela's site says.

    Is it time to start sending back the catalogues?
  • Wednesday, November 28, 2007

    DeFazio seeks predator poison ban

    According to the AP, Oregon Rep Peter Defazio is petitioning the EPA to ban the use of two dangerous chemicals sodium cyanide and sodium fluoroacetate, commonly known as Compound 1080, on federal lands. The poisons are used to kill predators in the West, but DeFazio says they also end up killing endangered species and injuring humans.

    Monday, November 26, 2007

    Climate change to boost invasive species in Oregon

    The Statesman Journal has a great article about how global warming is giong to impact invasive species in Oregon:

    Invasive species by their nature are opportunistic," said Patty Glick, senior global warming specialist for the National Wildlife Federation. "If you have environments weakened by drought, often invasive species can take advantage of that situation. A lot of invasive species introduced into the United States are limited by some factor, usually temperature.

    Sunday, November 25, 2007

    Oregon salmon runs continue nosedive: Egg hunters to blame?

    Earlier this year ODFW said the salmon run on the Rogue River was weak. Guides called it the worst season in 30 years. I've been bombing out on salmon(which doesn't mean much, but still).

    And now this, Shane at The Quiet Pool seems to be seeing the same thing, especially on the Kilchis where he blames the egg-gathering bubbas that throw back a bright buck for a ripe hen with eggs.

    We know out of date hydrosystems, ocean conditions and clearcutting are the primary factors in salmon decline, but on small streams, Shane sees another factor:

    While egg hunters are not the biggest suspects in the salmon decline they surely have played a part in it especially in coastal rivers which are primarily wild fish. The commercially sold eggs are generally from hatcheries surplus and are not sports caught. The recognition of the impact of this "egg hunting" is slow in coming but there are some that are now not keeping females and that is a good sign. Hopefully the enlightenment of some will influence others and that can indeed make a difference.

    Friday, November 23, 2007

    Tidal extremes on the Oregon Coast this weekend

    Several news outlets report that the Oregon Coast will have extremely high and low tides this weeekend. Coupled with great weather and calm seas, it should be an excellent time to go beach combing. But watch out for sneaker waves, which can be more deadly during these extreme tidal conditions. Also be on the lookout for giant floating logs that were lifted in the high tide. Nature is going to be rearranging the beach furniture.

    Monday, November 19, 2007

    National Geographic Adventure sells Columbia River salmon short

    In an article in the December/January 2008 issue of National Geographic Adventure magazine, Paul Kvinta illustrates the struggle between protected sea lions and fishermen skirmishing over the last dwindling stocks of Columbia River salmon.

    Unfortunately, Kvinta doesn't address the real problem facing our endangered salmon run until the very end of the article (several pages and jumps into the piece). Kivnta finally gets to it here:

    The government built 14 dams on the main stem of the Columbia River and more than 250 in the basin. The salmon population dropped from some ten million fish to less than 300,000.

    Of particular concern are four dams on the lower Snake River build between 1960 and 1975 to make Lewiston, Idaho -- 465 miles inland -- a port. Until then, Idaho had produced half of the Chinook salmon in the Columbia Basin. The dams generate less than 5% of the electricity used in the Northwest, they provide no flood control, and they supply irrigation to fewer than 20 farms.

    Why couldn't that be in the front of this article? Most likely because Kvinta or his editor John Rasmus made an editorial decision: ODFW agents spraying giant pinnipeds with rubber bullets is way more compelling to the average reader than salmon slowly dwindling to extinction due to beuracratic inertia.

    But nonetheless its a huge waste in my opinion. NG Adventure is a big publication and Kvinta is a very talented writer (his article on Rory Stewart is the best article I've ever read in one of the "outdoors" magazines).

    A: Kvinta is a good enough writer to make this issue interesting to a much wider audience.
    B: Isn't the National Geographic Society responsible to fight species extinction? I haven't read its charter or anything, but I idolized National Geographic writers and photographers since I was a kid and always thought of them as environmental stewards.

    Bottom line: Kvinta and Rasmus dropped the ball. They had an opportunity to raise awareness about a species that is circling the drain and instead they relegated that info to the back of the magazine.

    Luckily, YOU CITIZEN ENVIRONMENTALISTS can affect change where these folks fell short. Send a message to the Federal Government on this issue at

    Wednesday, November 14, 2007

    New way to drag blacktail and elk out of the Oregon bush

    Here's a video that's pretty much an ad for the people behind HawkeyeBilt, a personal tow-behind trailer unit for deer and elk carcasses in Oregon's backcountry. Getting a big ungulate down miles from a road is one of my worst nightmares.

    Protect Oregon's sea floor

    Robin Hartmann of the Oregon Ocean Shores Coalition makes the case to protect Oregon's ocean floor in today's Regisiter-Guard:

    Our sea floor is the unsung hero of Oregon’s land base. Extending three miles off our coast, it is covered with communities of plants and animals that require and deserve protection, even though these special areas aren’t visible from the shore.

    Tuesday, November 13, 2007

    Video: Coastal cutthroat and steelhead fishing in Oregon

    Couple guys dropping egg patterns on coastal cutthroat and native steelhead in Oregon's coast range. Close to home.

    Video: Sturgeon Fishing on the Columbia River

    Yeah dude... it's another keeper. Sturgeon fishing on the Columbia. I got to do it.

    Authorities scale back search for Oregon professor

    The Register-Guard reports: After eight days of combing the dense forests near Cougar Lake, Lane County sheriff’s search and rescue officials called off the active search Monday for Daming Xu, who disappeared Nov. 4 after failing to return home to Eugene from a solo day hike.

    There is a site called Find Our Friend dedicated to updates on Daming Xu's situation.

    Oregon Coast: Stormwatchers beware of sneaker waves

    The winter storm season is upon us and the Oregon Coast is an awesome place to watch the raging Pacific Ocean. But sneaker waves can pose a threat to stormwatchers. Beach Connection offers a set of tips to avoid getting washed out to sea:

    Sneaker waves are common and often catch people off guard while standing onshore. You can't see them and they are impossible to predict. These occur when smaller waves pile up on top each other to form one large wave – sometimes twice as large as the previous sets. Also, they can carry large pieces of debris with them such as logs, which present a whole set of other dangers.

    Friday, November 09, 2007

    Fishing bloggers, enviros rejoice over Measure 49

    This week Measure 49 passed in Oregon and the fishing blog community is excited. From the new Fly-blog supergroup Buster Wants to Fish:

    It’s now gonna be way harder to put a huge strip mall, a McDonald’s, a 230 McMansion development, 230 white picket fences that house an overmortaged American “Dream” lifestyle financed on credit and a killshot into the streambottom of our natal salmon and steelhead waters.

    The folks at the Oregon Environmental Council are excited as well. The raised a specter that's near and dear to my heart, the Sixes River:

    A Measure 37 claim has been filed at the mouth of the wild Sixes River—perhaps the greatest natural estuary remaining on the Coast. The claim threatens wild salmon and steelhead habitat with 150 housing units, a 250-room hotel, golf courses, and parking lots on land that is in a beach and dune conservation area.

    Thursday, November 08, 2007

    DeFazio responds to my WOPR rant

    Dear Mr. Stansberry:

    Thank you for your message regarding the Western Oregon Plan Revision (WOPR) process. I appreciate hearing from you.

    I share your concern about the WOPR. According to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the agency is currently considering several action alternatives that will significantly change how BLM lands in southern Oregon are managed. Reducing riparian buffers, shifting to shorter rotations, and managing owl habitat according to a highly dubious Northern Spotted Owl Draft Recovery Plan (2007) is no way to manage these valuable public lands. Moreover, I am deeply troubled that this process is being undertaken as a result of a "sweetheart settlement" between the timber industry and the Bush Administration.

    Despite these concerns, the BLM is legally permitted to undertake Resource Management Plan revision as necessary, even if the result of WOPR is a return to legal gridlock in the courts. I would prefer that the BLM - and the Forest Service - manage public forests in a more sustainable and ecologically-sound manner. To that end, I have introduced a bill in previous congresses that would direct the Forest Service and BLM to concentrate scarce dollars on thinning fire-prone and overstocked plantations on federal lands, rather than on logging old growth forests that are resistant to fire. I plan to reintroduce that bill again this year, and would like to count on your support for this legislation.

    Thank you again for writing. Please stay in touch.


    Rep. Peter DeFazio
    Fourth District, OREGON

    Wednesday, November 07, 2007

    Give a dam for salmon

    Bobby Hayden and the folks from Save Our Wild Salmon have set up a new public comment page Give A Dam For Salmon where you can send a message to federal agencies and Congress that you'd like to see the lower four Snake River Dams removed.

    From the site: The federal government is allowing four costly, out-dated dams to limit our jobs, our fishing, and our outdoor recreation, and to threaten a healthy food source. Those four dams are destroying a national treasure and renewable natural resource. Wild salmon and steelhead are vital to the culture, economy, and balance of nature that the Pacific Northwest has relied upon for years. If we don’t act - in Congress, the courts, and our own communities - these salmon will disappear forever. The time is now.

    The also have this awesome dancing salmon video, "Buster, the wild Snake River Salmon".

    Tuesday, November 06, 2007

    Oregon Old growth park pops up on the Coast Range

    From the Register-Guard last week: Fergus McLean isn’t bothering with whatever bureaucratic process it takes to create a public park. He’s just gone ahead and declared one in an expansive stand of huge old trees on federal land in the Coast Range.

    Stop the WOPR folks, before it's too late. Contact your local reps and tell them to stop the clearcutting of Oregon Old Growth Forests:
  • Governor Ted Kulongoski
  • U.S. Senator Ron Wyden
  • U.S. Senator Gordon Smith
  • Representative Peter DeFazio

    Also, send a letter to the BLM through The Cascadia Widlands Project’s action site.
  • Cascadia Wildlands presents on Copper River Delta

    EVENT TONIGHT! Gabe Scott, Cascadia Wildlands Alaska field staff, will be presenting tonight at the Eugene library. Gabe will be presenting images from wilderness photographer Brett Cole and talking about his cutting-edge conservation work in south-central AK.

    "At the Edge of the Ice Age: Alaska's Lost Coast and Copper River Country"
    Tuesday, November 6 * 6:30-7:30 pm
    Tykeson Room, Eugene Public Library (10th and Olive St.)
    Join the Cascadia Wildlands Project (CWP) for an informative and stunning slideshow presentation about Alaska's unparalleled Copper River, its rich Delta and threats they face from the Trans-Alaska Oil Pipeline and commercial extraction interests. CWP staff has spent the past 8 years in Cordova, a quaint fishing village on the mouth of the delta and on the eastern shore of Prince William Sound, working with fishermen and locals to ensure the world-class salmon fishery and surrounding wildlands remain unspoiled for future generations.

    Check out this video on commercial fishing in the delta:

    Monday, November 05, 2007

    Make the pledge to Switch For Salmon

    Trout Unlimited is rolling out a new pledge for salmonid conservationists in the Pacific Northwest. TU wants customers who buy the power produced by the Northwest's dams send a strong message that we're willing to use less of it. "Perhaps then the dam operators will hear us, and decide they too, can change for fish."

    Sign the pledge today and you can save on your energy bill and send a message to the hydrosystem folks. Here are the changes you would have to make:

    Switch out just three-quarters of my light bulbs to compact fluorescents: save 5%
    Switch to running only full loads in the dryer: save 2%
    Switch off lights when not in use: save 3%
    Switch to air drying half my washed clothing: save 3%
    Switch to running only full loads in the dishwasher: save 1%