Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Recycled Arts Festival

This past weekend, I helped out at the Recycled Arts Festival. In its fifth year, the event was bigger and better than ever. The event is sponsored by the Clark County Department of Environmental Services. Artists came from all over to display and sell their wares at Esther Short Park this past weekend. All products were made using recycled materials. The works of art were all unique and included metal garden art, airplanes made from soda or beer cans, fine wood furniture from wood pallets, bags and baskets made from plastic bags, and beads made from beer and wine bottles. And that's just a few examples. One vendor made hand bags from recycled chip bags. You know, the ones that never go away. Ever. He actually collected chip bags from the Student Environmental Leadership Forum (See blog, May 4, 2010) and displayed the bag at his booth during the festival.

In addition to the artists selling their wares, a tent called 'Tossed and Found' was set up and run by Waste Connections. Beginning months prior to the festival, staff collected items that were dropped off at the transfer station. The items were all in great shape and some were even brand new, still in the box. They included furniture, grills, golf clubs, dishes, and tools. Anyway, people wanting an item received a ticket. When their number was pulled, they got in line to pick out an item for free. All these items would have otherwise ended up in the landfill. Needless to say, this event was very popular with the crowds.

Throughout the festival, bands performed on stage, puppets and a stiltwalker paraded through the park and entertained young and old alike. Events for the kids were plentiful as well, including making their own puppet out of recycled materials and a birds of prey show in which kids and adults learned about wildlife conservation. They also got to get pretty close to a red-tailed hawk, a falcon, and screech owl. This whole event is a great way to educate and encourage the public to reduce waste by reusing and recycling. Or as some say, upcycling.

Why is the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, specifically our office, involved in an event such as this? Simple. We have a policy stating that we will participate in recycling programs in an effort to conserve natural resources and protect the environment. Makes sense to me.

Check out the website for the recycled arts festival and be sure to put it on your calendar for next year.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Mussel Mania Part 3 - Glochidia

Glochidia size compared to a dime.
Well, last time I wrote about seeing seeing the mussels releasing their larvae (called a spat). You can read about it at Mussel Mania Part 2. Anyway, at the time, I gathered up a net and some containers and scooped up some of the conglutinate masses to verify that these masses actually contained glochidia. As soon as I got back into the office, I went to the lab where we have a microscope with a camera attachment, and sure enough, the masses were filled with glochidia. Most of them looked like spheres but some of them which were opened looked like little pacmen. The glochidia are only .05mm in length. Not hardly visible with the naked eye. If these glochidia (well, not the ones I collected) are lucky enough to find a suitable host and attach to the gills, they will actually grow to twice their length (about .4mm which still isn't that large) before falling off and beginning their life as free living mussels. That is, if all goes well.

Glochidia clusters, open glochidia

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Preparing for Removal of Condit Dam

Dam removal is as controversial as ever in the Pacific Northwest and, from my experience, has a myriad of fish restoration factors to consider much less all the other addditonal considerations that go into the decision to remove a dam. Biologists in our office have done assessments that are trying to either enumerate or document the presence or absence of species in areas both upstream and downstream of Condit Dam. These assessments will provide the pre-removal "snapshot" of White Salmon River fish populations and, hopefully with additional assessments and monitoring in the years after the removal, there will be a story of the repopulation of both anadromous and resident fish species into newly available habitat.

For the past two years, I worked with several other U.S. Fish and Wildlfie Service biologists, Spring Creek National Fish Hatchery staff, PacifiCorp (owner and operator of Condit Dam), Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, National Marine Fisheries Service, Yakama Nation Fisheries, The U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Geological Survey's Columbia River Research Laboratory on planned capture and transport of Lower Columbia River fall Chinook salmon. The breaching of Condit Dam and draining of Northwestern Lake will temporarily inundate the spawning habitat of fall Chinook salmon with sediment in the lower White Salmon River. This will in turn affect the survival of the salmon eggs placed by fall Chinook salmon in the lower White Salmon River (annually in September) immediately prior to the scheduled removal of the dam (currently October 2011). A decision was made by representatives of the previously mentioned agencies, and the operator of the dam, to transport adult fall Chinook salmon upstream of Condit Dam and allow them to spawn naturally in an area of the river that will be unaffected by sediment released from removal of Condit Dam. This decision was informed by other assessments and data collection of fall Chinook salmon spawning abundance, genetics, and juvenile production in the lower White Salmon River.

The following videos show some of the work that was performed during 2008 and 2009 assessments. In 2008, we assessed three different capture mentods in an effort to catch and transport Lower Columbia River fall Chinook salmon upstream of Condit Dam to document how successful our proposed actions might be. In 2009, we assessed the use of a resistance board weir in combination with a dormant adult salmon collection facility and a Video Passage System (VPS). Here are the links to the 2008 report and the 2009 report to view them in their entirety. Aspects of these efforts are ongoing in 2010.

Submitted by Rod Engle.