Monday, July 14, 2014

Making habitat for coho salmon fry on the Necanicum

Text and photos By Michael Ellis

This is the area on the Necanicum River that we will be placing the christmas trees to provide habitat for coho salmon fry.

On Saturday, July 12th, volunteers from the Tualatin Valley and Wild North Coast chapters of Trout Unlimited, as well as volunteers from the Necanicum Watershed Council and friends of the Thompson family met at Coho Sanctuary to place christmas trees collected last winter in the main stem of the Necanicum River. Also in attendance was Grant Mcomie and his cameraman Jeff Kastner as well as Jeff's wife Jean and cousin Jeff Nishimura.

These trees provide great cover from predators for the young fry as well as forming a substrate for all kinds of organisms which in turn provide food for the fish. Many of these trees were donated by McKenzie Farms near Oregon City and were trucked to the coast last February by TVTU. Those trees were still bundled and had tags on them so the first order of business was to remove the twine and tags.

Bill Schoen removes twine from bundled christmas trees.
While some were working on removing twine and moving the trees to the bank of the river, other volunteers prepared their watercraft and donned wetsuits to move the trees into position.

fm. left: Josh Corder, Byren Thompson and Denny Cook get their boats ready.
Doug Ray, doing his best seal impersonation, donned his wetsuit to move trees in the river
The tree placement takes shape. Doug Ray in wetsuit, Byren Thompson by red boat and Denny Cook in pontoon boat.
fm. left: Josh Corder, Bill Schoen and Austin Rempel move trees from the pile to the river
There were close to one thousand trees to place. With all the volunteers we made pretty quick work of it though.

Josh Corder adds another tree to the placement.

fm. left, Grant Mcomie takes notes while Josh Corder, Austin Rempel, Bill Schoen and  Greg Fritts move trees.
fm. left:  Jeff Nishimura, Jean Kastner, Austin Rempel, Josh Corder, Bill Schoen and Greg Fritts move trees to the river.
Jeff Kastner, Videographer for KGW, films the placement from the river.
Denny Cook, in pontoon boat, and Joyce Hunt, in wetsuit, wrangle trees into position.

fm. left: Joyce Hunt, April Larsen and Byren Thompson position trees in the placement area.
Doug Ray is interviewed by Grant Mcomie of KGW TV.

Bill Schoen, (l) and Austin Rempel remove twine and tags from trees before they go in the river. The pile has dwindled considerably.
As we worked our way deeper into the pile we found that the trees that were at the bottom of the pile were very wet and heavy. Byren decided that he should spread them out with his large from end loader and let them dry for a week or two, then put the rest into the placement area. We finished up around noon and most took the opportunity to walk around the wetland complexes and see all the work that Byren has been doing. He has widened and improved the trail system making it much easier and safer to view the wetlands. We saw quite a few coho fry utilizing the wetland complexes.

Within an hour, when you looked at the tree placement in the river you could see coho fry darting around the trees. It is amazing how quickly they are attracted to this structure.

A big thank you goes to to all the volunteers: Greg Fritts, Denny Cook, Dean Stanovich, Austin Rempel, Melyssa Graeper, Joyce Hunt, April Larsen, Josh Corder, Bill Schoen, Doug Ray, Byren Thompson, Jeff Nishimura and Jean Kastner. Thanks also to Susan and Byren Thompson for hosting Coho Sanctuary on their property and a big thank you to Grant Mcomie and Jeff Kastner for doing a story on our christmas tree project.

Be sure to watch KGW news at noon and 6 PM on Thursday, July 17th to see Grant's story.

Placement done for the day.
I think we all had a really nice time. The weather was perfect for working in and it was nice to see all our old friends and make some new ones.