Friday, September 12, 2014

What'd I miss...September Edition

Back in our routine after the summer focus shift – a fine PICNIC for July and the August break – about 25 TVTU folks converged on our monthly meeting spot at the Lucky Lab Public House in Multnomah Village. Our President, Erle, put a few folks on the spot to introduce themselves – (2) new attendees and a visitor from the Clackamas River Chapter [welcome, of course, we appreciate your willingness to play!]. By the way – visitors are welcome any time in case that wasn’t obvious – no secret handshakes required to attend this group!

Michael Ellis – our esteemed Coordinator of all things Conservation – reported that he and Jon Pampush snuck away to the Deschutes last month; though not timely for current conditions, Michael relayed that the river fished well.....
and if not for impending t-storms he and Jon would have had a bit more time on the water. For the record, and by Michael‘s admission – Jon put the big fish to hand for the day.
Road Kill Grill at it's Best
Andy Andrews – Man of the Campouting – noted the FALL RIVER trip is coming up – QUICKLY [Sept 17th – 22nd] and the final outing for the season will be October 17th – 20th at Harpham Flats CG on the Deschutes. If you have any questions – give Andy a call or email him from our CONTACTS list.

Jerry Lorang – Newsletter Editor Extraordinaire and Project Healing Waters coordinator – noted they have solidified the 2015 events/workshop calendar. He urges anyone interested in helping with this Program to please contact him [again use the CONTACTS list!].

Jerry also is deeply involved in the annual FFACS Pacific Northwest Fly Tyer Rendezvous; if you are not familiar with this program it is a non-profit coalition for fishing conservation and education. The rendezvous is their big fundraiser for the year and with the help of several local clubs – Tualatin Valley Chapter included – they assemble some of the finest tyers from the area to demonstrate flies and techniques. Along with that are silent auctions and some other fundraisers for your participation – food is also available. The funds are equally divided among the participating clubs for distribution to education or conservation groups chosen by the club [in March of 2014 TVTU directed their available $700 portion to the World Salmon Council]. The date for 2014 PNW Rendezvous will be November 8 – it will be at the Jackson armory again [out near Portland int’l Airport]; please plan on attending!  The Chapter can also use some help facilitating some of the activities, be certain to let MIKE GENTRY know if you can add some assistance – he will have details [pretty minor stuff folks!].
So after a few more beers and pizzas were brought up for those who were enjoying the Lucky Lab fare, David Moskowitz of the DESCHUTES RIVER ALLIANCE took command.
David M / Deschutes River Alliance
David is a former OCTU lobbyist and has worked hand-in-hand with Tom Wolf at the State. Since 1988 David has been directly involved with fish conservation – in 2013 the Deschutes River Alliance was begun out of a concern for preservation of the Deschutes River in Central Oregon. Currently, their primary focus is the health and water quality of the lower river section below Pelton/Round Butte Dam.
A history lesson to begin: PGE assumed the applications for the construction of Pelton Dam in the 1950’s; the State of Oregon contested the request – based on fish passage primarily - all the way to the Supreme Court. PGE won the right to construct after including plans for fish passage [though the State continued to contest the construction].  More interesting tidbits can be found at the Oregon Historical Society website – HERE.

The fish passage system failed within 10 years of completion and the sockeye, chinook and steelhead runs were hurt or eliminated. The famed kokanee of Lake Billy Chinook are the remnants of a once relatively strong run of sockeye to Suttle Lake.

Fast forward to 2008 when PGE needed to reapply for licensing: they partnered with the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs and pledged $120 million intent on improving fish passage to reestablish historic fish movements in the system. The relicensing went through and moneys were used to fund the new water release structure – a 270-foot tall tower that allows PGE to control where water released through the dam comes from within the vertical levels of the lake. The premise – they alter the flow within the lake so fish know where to migrate. That was accomplished – the side effect that went unconsidered? The water quality of the lower Deschutes.
Tower Diagram  -PGE website
You see – bear with me as I was unfamiliar with the reasons – LBC, as we know, has three feeder drainages; Metolius, Crooked, Deschutes. Each has different water to offer – Metolius = clean and cold; Deschutes = cool and less clean but rich; Crooked = warmest and so-so clean but nutrient rich. So the lake is stratified with these layers and the releases used to be low in the column [Metolius water sinks in the lake = cold!], where the Deschutes and Crooked water [being warm] stayed high in the lake. Those higher sections, due to richness [caused by agricultural run-off] grew algae; in the summer, they would bloom and kill off after consuming the ag nutrients. Now all levels are all in play and move downstream and through ALTERED CURRENTS [PGE Link] move fish as well.

Well, a lot of information came next about algae and diatoms and water temps and turbidity and bugs and fish and though I jotted most of it down [and learned a thing or two to boot] – this post is getting very long. Suffice it to say algae is present [and not invasive bad ROCK SNOT type but nuisance stuff from Oregon (most likely the Crooked River)], some historical bugs are suffering, steelhead – albeit strays – bypassed the Deschutes for colder waters up the Columbia and became MIA. The biggest surprise – nobody ever had an in-place base study prior to the changes.

So the Deschutes River Alliance has jumped in and tried to get a grasp on what affect this all is having on the lower river health. ACCOMPLISHMENTS include: bug sampling [the very buggy Rick Hafele competed a study last year – HERE - it is 25 pages; but there is a Cliff’s Notes Conclusion/Summary at the end] and they have studied and measured turbidity and quality over a 20-mile section – studies not done by PGE or anyone else; they have included alternative source studies to determine where issues may be coming from. They also have lobbied ODFW to complete fish sampling in the lower river. They have gathered on river data from fisherman and guides and continue to assemble all this information for use in lobbying for the correct approach to manage water quality. And that was only just the last year!?!

For 2014 they are continuing to gather user information through fisherman and guides [there is an app for you smart device folks], they are using FLIR technology to map and study thermal plumes in the river, they are completing aerial mapping of algae growth, and they are continuing the ODFW fish sampling. They continue to work with PGE and the Confederated tribes as the voice for the river and interested user groups.

In summary [and as asked by one of our astute attendees] “WHAT IS YOUR GOAL?”: the ideal scenario for DRA would be to ensure that the lower river receive equal attention as the upper river and that the entities that are managers of the MYRIAD of users view the Deschutes as an ENTIRE system when it comes to water quality.

Because in the end – that is what it is all about right? Clean, cold fishable waters.

To contact DRA
[or DONATE to their cause]
check out their website: