Friday, December 23, 2011

Highlights from 2011!

"The highlight of my year was working with biologists from US Fish and Wildlife Service, Oregon State University and the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Indian Reservation. We collected naturally fertilized bull trout eggs from Canyon Creek, OR. to develop a captive rearing research program in support of bull trout conservation activities."
Bill Brignon

"The Highlight of the year for me was watching Condit Dam Come down. I wish I could have actually been there. From what I saw from the pictures and videos it looked like it was very exiting.
I have also, come to realize that we really are all lucky to have our jobs and work in an office where people work hard and care about their jobs."
Melissa Kennedy

"-commemorating reintroduced bull trout spawning (allegedly) in the clackamas river.
-working with the FWS's NWR system to get a crew out in the Nevada desert to see what fish were there and how they were distributed.
-helping to get Greg Silver through his first year of his master's program."
Tim Whitesel

"Highlight - injecting lamprey with viruses with USGS folks in Seattle."
Jeff Jolley

-"Spotting tracks from the newly established Walla Walla wolf pack with Donna while hiking up the snowy SF Walla Walla trail to fix a remote PIT tag antenna.
-Assisting with bull trout threat assessment evaluations.
-Bull trout spawning surveys with Amy Horstman. Extra bonus: We both had our first cougar sighting while driving to the trailhead!"
Courtney Newlon

"My favorite thing this year was attending the Bandon NWR Restoration Dedication. It was a privilege to see the Feather Dance presented by the Coquille Indian Tribe."
Brook Silver

"Had a nice day in the latter part of September helping out with the Watershed Festival at Lewisville Park. This was the first time I had volunteered and would like to do it again next year. Enjoyed the CRFPO open house as well and looking forward to doing it again."
Larry Fishler

"Too many highlights for me to list but here's a few.
-Seeing wolf tracks along the SF Walla Walla River with Courtney
-Observing freshwater mussels in Merrill Creek
-All the great days spent out in the woods while mentoring students with the great folks from Wolftree."
Donna Allard

"My favorite things for 2011 were doing fish passage project site review visits with Ron Rhew and our partners on Oregon's north coast, getting to work with our resident superhero (Donna Allard) to start setting up a school education outreach project, participating in the Nehalem Conservation Action Plan where I met and worked closely with interesting landowners and agency folks, and seeing big fish and cool wildlife (cougar! elk!) while helping Courtney with the bull trout spawning surveys."
Amy Horstman

"I only have half a year to tell you about. Well, holding that Tule on the White Salmon was definitely a highlight! I got to go E-fishing with Greg and Brook in Tryon Creek. The Leavenworth fieldwork was also fun! We were surveying in and around Icicle Creek by the hatchery there. I've had a chance to work on so many different projects - it's never boring! All in all, these past 6 months have been a blast. This has been a wonderful place to work."
Nadia Jones

Paul Sankovich was co-author of a manuscript, titled An Evaluation of Redd Counts as a Measure of Bull Trout Population Size and Trend, accepted for publication in the North American Journal of Fisheries Management.

"-Finding that fish were using a recently re-connected slough by capturing over one hundred juvenile salmon in one trap.
-Finding that kayaking between sampling sites on the NWR's was the fastest and most enjoyable way to go.
-Hearing American bitterns everyday during a field trip last spring."
Jeff Johnson

"The highlight of my year was being accepted into the Service's Stepping Up to Leadership (SUTL) program and attending the first two weeks of the program at the National Conservation Training Center (NCTC) in Sheperdstown, WV. SUTL is a six month long program designed to improve leadership skills across the Service at the GS 11 and 12 level. It is a competitive application process for which only three people from Region 1 are chosen to attend each class. Being at NCTC, on the banks of the Potomac River, in October when the leaves were changing was beautiful. It was a great way to recharge the batteries. But, even better, being there and being a part of SUTL has allowed me to meet men and women from all over the country in multiple branches of the Service, and realize what an incredible agency for which I have the privilege of working."
Mike Hudson

"We had another successful year of PIT tagging almost 3000 juvenile winter steelhead in Eagle Creek. This years highlights include: working with three new STEP students, leading a field crew that had more women than men on it (a rarity!), catching some really pretty Cutthroat trout (along with some really pretty winter seelhead), and watching everyone get excited when we started to catch fish!"
Maureen Kavanagh

"The 2011 highlight for me was being part of the fish salvage efforts on the white salmon river and watching the breaching of Condit dam."
Brian Davis

"My highlight of the year was when the Director sent us the email announcing 'Voluntary Early Retirement Authority'"
Dan Butler

"- Assisting with capture and transport of Tule fall Chinook upstream of Condit Dam on the White Salmon River.
- Counting over 180 fall Chinook redds above Condit Dam following fish salvage efforts.
- Rafting and kayaking the White Salmon River - Husum Falls was epic!"
Jen Poirier

"A highlight was working with the Refuges I&M program that allowed us to bring on Ben and Cory, our college student crew, to conduct fish surveys in the Sheldon-Hart Mountain National Wildlife Refuge Complex. I spend some time with them hiking into truly spectacular canyon country to sample fish in remote areas and also visit a lot of dry sites. Another highlight was helping the marking crew to PIT tag fish at Little White Salmon NFH for a week. I did not get to stretch my legs much there, but certainly got to handle a lot of fish and the crew expanded my musical exposure."
Sam Lohr

"My highlight was seeing Joe's picture in all the media coverage for the work all of us did in the White Salmon River. Also being at Condit Dam the day of the breach, it was an amazing sight to see the reservoir drain and all the sediment and timber move through the hole in the dam."
Rod Engle

"seeing live bull trout for the first time ever, and watching them get released into the Clackamas River (which hadn't seen bull trout since 1963); watching the breaching of Condit Dam, meeting up with old friends at the national American Fisheries Society annual meeting in Seattle; and (of course) getting hitched to a wonderful man who appreciates Marci's love of The Life Aquatic!"
Marci Koski

"Looking at a potential project to aid restoring passage to Jackson Creek at Cape Lookout State Park, and in particular the really cool remnant spruce bog habitat, and decommissioning a portion of a ditched stream."
Ron Rhew

"My highlight of the year was helping Rod capture and transport Tules for the condit dam removal project. Some of the fish were as long as my legs."
David Hines

On the Admin. side of fisheries here at the CRFPO;
"Our Andrea who spent her career [over 20 years] in the now retired financial systems along with the rest of the Admin. team:
-We said good bye to FFS [ Federal Financial System]; IDEAS [purchasing]; PPMS [property]; FAIMS [Federal Aid] and said hello to FBMS [Financial Business Management System] which encompasses travel, property, financial and purchasing.
-We said good bye to "old lingo" such as Org.Code, Project Number, Fiscal Year, ABC and BOC codes and said hello to Cost Center, WBS [Work Breakdown Structure], and Partial Fund.
-We said good bye to a short string of numbers and said hello to a long string of alpha-numeric codes.
-We said good bye to old duties and hello to new "roles" with lots and lots of transitional 'glitches'...><((((*>ooo"

And now for the finale...
"We finished the Pacific Lamprey Assessment and Template for Conservation Measures. You may have seen it hanging around the copy room :)"
Christina Luzier

With that we wish you all a Happy Holiday. Look for us next year.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Quest For Fat

Lipids are generically known as fat. They are the main energy reserve in animals and critical to the survival, fitness, reproduction, and recruitment of fish. Since the ultimate goal of an animal is to reproduce and pass its genes onto future generations, the rest can be considered details. Lipids are the underlying fuel that all organisms use to this end. Lipids pack a large energetic punch - a large amount of calories are stored in a small amount of space. In many animals like fish lipids can broadly be considered the storage fuel needed for significant energetically costly events – the afterburner if you will. A bear needs to amass a large amount of fat – which will be slowly converted to energy throughout the winter. Similarly, a salmon needs to build up a surplus lipid reserves if it is to successfully migrate hundreds of miles without feeding, attract a mate, convert some of its energy into gametes, and spawn.

Figure 1. A lipid molecule.

Lampreys are unique in that they undergo metamorphosis. Pacific lamprey transform from larvae to juveniles, which outmigrate to the ocean, parasitically feed on other fishes, and return to freshwater as adults to spawn. Western brook lamprey transform directly from larvae to adults – which will never feed again – and spawn and die. The process of metamorphosis itself is energetically costly. Internal organs rearrange and change, external anatomy changes too. This takes energy. Larval lampreys gain their nutrition (and ultimately lipids) through filter feeding detritus. Furthermore, lampreys don’t feed during transformation; Pacific lamprey will resume feeding once transformed as they approach or enter the ocean and western brook lamprey will never feed again! In theory, one should see a buildup of lipids just prior to metamorphosis – and this should be measurable. It is plausible that western brook lamprey may need even more lipids – as they will never feed again and acquire new energy.

Figure 2. Different lifestages of lamprey.

We have been evaluating lipid extraction techniques and lipid dynamics in larval Pacific lamprey and western brook lamprey. Unfortunately the lipid extraction procedure is lethal. The larval lamprey are euthanized and then homogenized into a paste. A mixture of chloroform and methanol is used to extract the lipids. A characteristic of lipids is that they are not soluble in water (this is why fat globules float on water) but they are in other similar organic solvents (e.g., chloroform, ether, acetone). Once the lipids are extracted they are weighed and expressed as a percentage of the entire body weight.

Figure 3. Solution with extracted lipids.

Knowledge of lipid content can also give a measurement of “condition” or well-being of a fish. In the fish world, the fatter the fish is usually considered healthier. Lampreys with higher lipid content would be considered healthier. We also measure condition with non-lethal means by calculating the weight-to-length ratio of the fish. In addition, we are investigating a technique for measuring body density. We use hydrostatic weighing, which is essentially weighing a fish in water, calculating the amount of water displaced, thereby calculating density. We are comparing these different measures to see if they are related and if so, we may be able to use a nonlethal technique to measure condition in lamprey.

Figure 4. Weighing a larval lamprey in water to calculate body density.

So far we haven’t been able to detect a strong pattern of correlation among the different techniques to measure condition. We have noticed that small and large western brook lamprey have higher lipid content than do similar sized Pacific lamprey. This would support the notion that western brook lamprey need to have more lipids in preparation for metamorphosis. These lampreys were collected in the fall, presumably after the time that any larvae that were going to transform would have done so. Essentially we examined larvae that were not likely to transform that year. We are going to examine lipids from another group of lamprey that were collected in the summer. Some of these individuals should be ready to transform and we might be able to see more clear relationships of lipid content.

Figure 5. Lipid content in larval Pacific lamprey and western brook lamprey.

Submitted by Jeff Jolley

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Learning in the Great Outdoors

This fall, I accompanied the Heritage High School AP Biology students on their first field trip of the year. We met at Lewisville Park and after a brief introduction to the day’s activities, we picked up our gear and headed down to the river to collect and study the macroinvertebrates. The students had studied the insects in advance and came prepared with notebook in hand.

Although the water was cool, students who didn’t have boots just took off their shoes and went into the water barefoot. A bit too chilly for me. They collected lots of insects and took them back to the bank for study. Some students drew a picture of their insects and some read all about them. They recorded everything in their notebooks. It was great seeing the kids having fun and learning at the same time. And because most high school students can get instruction and work independently, I got to study the insects alongside them.

Aside from insect identification, the students did some water testing and hiking. As an added bonus, Chinook were spawning in the river. So, excellent weather, excellent students, and salmon made for a great day out in the field.

Submitted by Donna Allard

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Catch some baked salmon rolls!

I am more than just an employee who asks for receipts and cost accounting codes. I love to cook and bake and many of my coworkers have sampled my baking endeavors. Please try this recipe that went over especially well with the fish biologists at our office!

Sweet and savory, with a taste of the orient, aimed to please a lot of appetites.
Makes 16 – 4 inch rolls



12 ounces boneless and skinless salmon

1 Tablespoon dried minced onion

1 Tablespoon hoisin sauce

1 Tablespoon seafood cocktail sauce

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/8 teaspoon Chinese five spice

1/4 cup mayonnaise

1 Tablespoon lemon juice


Combine all ingredients till well mixed.


2 packages active dry yeast

3/4 cup warm milk (120◦)

1/3 cup sugar

1/4 cup melted butter

1 teaspoon salt

2 eggs, room temperature

3 ½ cups all-purpose flour

2 Tablespoons milk

1 ounce of sesame seeds (optional)
16 pieces 3x3 inch waxed paper


Combine 1 ½ cups of the flour and the yeast in a bowl.

Heat and stir milk, sugar, butter, and salt until warm (120◦). Add to flour/yeast mixture with eggs. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed for a minute till all ingredients are mixed into a thick batter. Beat on high speed for a few minutes till mixture is smooth.

Gradually mix in the rest of the flour in with a spoon to make dough firm. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and workable (about 5 minutes).

Place dough in a greased bowl, turn dough over to grease surface, and cover and allow dough to rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk (1 to 1 ½ hours).

Punch down dough, and turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Allow dough to rest 2 minutes before cutting into 16 equal pieces.

Roll out each piece into a ball, and then roll into a 4 inch circle, dusting with flour if necessary. Place 1 heaping tablespoon of filing in center of dough.

Pull dough over filling and close top by crimping and pinching edges together.

Place roll on piece of waxed paper, folded edge down. Space rolls 2 inches apart on a cookie sheet. Allow to rise 30 to 45 minutes in a warm oven (95◦F).

Brush gently with milk and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake at 350◦F for 15 minutes or until golden brown.


--Submitted by Valerie Sinesky, Budget Tech at Columbia River Fisheries Program Office

Monday, October 31, 2011

Another Great Day Outside

Slightly ahead of the group, Annie and I walked up Post Road, catching the numerous crickets as we went. She suddenly turned to me and said "It's sort of funny when you look around at people. Everyone has a cellphone or iPod or something to occupy themselves with when all they really need to do is go outside!" Well, that was a great end to a week. Annie is in 5th grade, or 4th, I can't remember. I just know she had a fantastic day.

We had just spent the day at Hopkins Demonstration Forest in Oregon City. Our group went down to the creek to explore, catch aquatic insects and test the water. Along the way, we had the students lead with a map in hand. The group was divided between going the long way and 'off-road' or staying on the trail and going directly to our tub filled with the supplies we would need. Annie of course wanted to go directly to the tub and get started.

The group compromised and got to the tub soon. Off came the shoes, on went the boots. Into the water the kids went after a bit of instruction. They were filled with energy and throughout the day, Annie would stop, look up, and shout "We are the luckiest group here today. We get to go in the water!"

Wolftree sponsored the trip and had prepared the students earlier this month with a classroom visit. Hopkins Demonstration Forest provided a great place to study aquatics, trees, plants, fungi and lichen, and wildlife.

At the end of the day during the student presentations, we learned the fungi and lichen group had seen cougar tracks and found lots of edible mushrooms including 'The Prince' and chanterelles. Other groups brought back tales of licking banana slugs, counting the rings on a tree core, or finding the 'toilet paper' shrub. Despite the chilly start to the day, the sun came out and the kids left with a bit more knowledge and enthusiasm for being outside.

Submitted by Donna Allard

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Creatures of the Night - 2011

Every year for the past 4 or 5, we have been part of a family event, called Creatures of the Night. This event is hosted by Clark County Environmental Services, Columbia Springs Environmental Education Center, and our office. It is a fun, free event geared towards families. We typically get 30 to 50 people. This year - over 150 kids and parents showed up to participate and learn about these mysterious creatures. Wow!

We started off with the audience, mainly children telling bat jokes, from cards which we handed out. Interspersed with the jokes, some of the older kids and their parents told the audience some interesting bat facts. We then talked about other animals which come out at night, including raccoons, opposums, and beavers. A few short video clips were shown.

A very nice video was played highlighting bats. The audience loved it. Lots of giggles and comments about some of the bats. I have watched this video hundreds of times over, well maybe a bit of an exaggeration, and I still love it, not an exaggeration.

We then brought in a bird specialist to speak about owls. Last year she actually brought in a screech owl named Simon but she no longer has him. Even without the live bird though, her presentation was great and was followed with lots of questions and answers.

This presentation led into what is usually the best part of the evening: owl pellets. The excitement level grew in the room as we told the kids how to dissect their pellet and what to look for. Each child was given a pellet with a picture of a vole skeleton. I can't even begin to tell you how much the kids and parents alike loved this activity.

After everyone gathered their bones, fur, and bone chart into a plastic bag, we headed outdoors to look for bats or anything else which might be lurking. I had not expected many people to stay for the walk, it being a school night, so I was surprised when over 50 people followed me to the overlook. There were lots of questions and lots of wide-eyed children looking up into the sky for any signs of owls or bats. Even though I had my trusty bat detector, there were no bats spotted during the evening. At that point, most families headed back home, but not without giving us plenty of praise and thanks for this wonderful event.

And now I must give thanks to the local cub scout troop, the Tigers, who attended the event and offered us their help in cleaning and organizing the room we used. It would have taken us much longer if not for their much appreciated help.

Each time we hold this event, it gets better. With the amazing response we got this year, we may even consider holding more than one of these events in the future. Who knows?

To read more, here is a great article and pictures from the evening courtesy of the Columbian newspaper.

Submitted by Donna Allard

Monday, October 17, 2011

Late Summer Work at Sheldon and Hart Mountain National Wildlife Refuges

The summer started a little late for Cory and I, as we didn’t get down to Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge in Nevada until the first week of August. After a week of getting oriented with the protocol and the refuge, we were sent out on our own for the duration of our employment. In the middle of our tour of duty we also spent a few weeks in Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge in southern Oregon. In Sheldon we sampled Virgin and Fish Creek watershed and in Hart Mountain we Sampled the Guano Creek watershed. We drove a lot of very rocky and bumpy roads, hiked many miles with heavy packs, and found many more dry and unsampleable sites than sampleable ones. We even had a stream that was sampleable in its mid reaches but dry in its upper reaches and dried up before its deposit into the nearest reservoir. We got used to trudging through roses, stinging nettles, and sagebrush that were very thick and as tall as we were. There were also many beautiful sunsets and sunrises as well as brilliantly clear starry skies. We soaked in the hot-spring pool at Virgin Campground with guppies, bullfrog tadpoles, and opal miners.

Cory shocking up fish in Fish Creek

Sometimes there was water upstream from standing at one point in the creek…

…but the creek was dry downstream (Fish Creek)

Horse pelvic girdles make great masks.

We saw lots of horse-damaged streams in Sheldon.

One of the many gorgeous sunsets. This one was at Hart Mountain.

Virgin Canyon

An army gravesite at Hart Mountain.

We sampled fish that looked more like cutthroat and fish that looked like redbands, and every hybrid combination you could think of in between. We also sampled a few Alvord chub and a lot of Tui chub in Nevada. Aside from fish, we saw many different kinds of animals. We saw deer, pronghorn antelope, wild horses and burrows, black-tailed jackrabbits, rattlesnakes, coyotes, lizards, thousands of little frogs, lots of different waterfowl species and other birds, and even a pygmy rabbit, which a wildlife crew had been searching for all summer on Sheldon but never saw.

One of the prettier fish we saw in Guano Creek.

Wild horses at Sheldon.

Burros at Sheldon.

Deer at Hart Mountain.

Coyote pup at Sheldon

Submitted by Ben Willis and Cory Stratton

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Columbia River Watershed Festival

Each year, around this time, a watershed festival is held for students in Clark County. The CRFPO, Clark County, the city of Vancouver, Columbia Springs, and Clark PUD all contribute to making the event a success. We also depend on many other agencies and volunteers to present to the students or help in other ways. The festival is so popular with the teachers that it usually fills up within a week of opening registration. This year we hosted 42 classes of 4th graders during the three day event. Staff from the CRFPO usually guide the classes to their activities or present. This year we were guides or helped in other ways.

One activity we brought our students to was presented by the StreamTeam. They had a short presentation about the life cycle of salmon and things they are doing to improve habitat conditions in Salmon Creek for salmon. Their excitement and enthusiasm about their work easily rubs off on the kids. After their presentation they played a game called "Hooks and Ladders". The kids all wore salmon hats and pretended to be salmon. An obstacle course represented the hurdles salmon face during their migration such as dams, fishermen, predatory wildlife, waterfalls, and fish ladders. If they made it through all of the obstacles, one final task awaited them. For their journey to be complete, the students had to carry some marbles in a spoon (representing their eggs) to the finish line. At any point if they did not make it through any one of the obstacles, they became a dead fish. They soon found out how difficult the journey of salmon can be. It is a great learning tool and fun too!

Another presentation we sat in on was the storyteller Will. He tells wonderful tales of how important the wetlands are and what may happen if they are not there. He engages the students by choosing a few to act out the parts of the wetland or bog, upstream, and downstream.

A really big hit was the reptile presentation. The presenter started out with a small black and red snake and then went to a larger boa constrictor and then to an albino snake called a banana snake. She also showed several lizards, an alligator and a large turtle and explained what they eat and how much. One important message the students took away with them was that noone should get a pet, exotic or not, without first thoroughly researching the animal's needs.

Another activity was presented by Clark Public Utilities. A short presentation about electricity, how it is can be generated, and its impacts on fish and wildlife was followed by the game of Jeopardy. The kids really enjoyed sharing their new found knowledge. The teams were named "Volts" and "Mega-Watts". There was definitely a lot of teamwork and a friendly air of competition. On this day, Meg-Watts won by a whopping 2000 well, mega-watts.

Anyway a great event as always. We can't wait till next year and neither can the kids.

Submitted by Ruby Bourne and Donna Allard