Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Notes from our PATHWAYS student.

If you keep up with the CRFPO blog, you might recall seeing my name a few entries back. My name is Christina Uh; I am one of just two PATHWAYS students working at the Columbia River Fisheries Program Office. I currently am a member of the administrative team in the office, working as a student office assistant. Or if you prefer fancy titles, I am an “Office Automation Clerk”.

To give you a quick snapshot of who I am, you would need to know four important things:

1)      I am (very proudly!) the first in my entire family to go to a 4 year university.

2)      I am a member of the Navajo Nation (not tribally enrolled) from my mother and Hispanic from my father. Specifically, my father is from a little place called Oxcutzcab, Yucatan and we have the indigenous Mayans’ blood running in our veins! Pretty cool huh?

3)      I love being outdoors, fishing, hiking, and the Portland Trail Blazers.

4)      I LOVE my family and my dog Maddie (check out her cute face below).

My job here at the office is pretty great. Some of the things I get to work on are; making sure timesheets are correct and ready to be certified, any and all things relating to our staff traveling for work, and other miscellaneous office duties. I consider myself to be two times luckier than the average student office assistant because I also get to spend some time away from the desk.

Once a week I pay a visit to Eagle Creek National Fish Hatchery to feed larval lamprey, or “my little dudes” (as I like to call them). There are 20 tanks, each containing 8 lamprey that all get fed different treatments as part of a captive rearing project. I also try to take advantage of any volunteer activities that I can. For example, over the summer I spent a day working with a crew at the Julia Butler Hansen Refuge catching White-tailed deer for relocation.
I am incredibly thankful for the opportunity to work at the CRFPO. Not only do I learn something new every day I go to work, I also get to expand my skills in multiple different areas. I get to learn the “behind the scenes” portion of fisheries work, as well as gain some hands-on, in the field experience. Something I could not have done at just any ol’ office position.
Hiking at King's Mountain

Submitted by Christina Uh. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Fish Marking Team Wins Prestigious Columbia River Fisheries Program Office Team of the Year

Each year the fish marking crew is responsible for the marking of over 30 million fish in the Columbia River Basin.  This may mean simply removing the adipose fin, inserting a coded-wire tag into the fish snout, or a combination of the two.  In addition, over a quarter million fish are PIT tagged.      

Mass marking refers to the removal of the adipose fin from young hatchery fish before they are released into the wild.  Removal of this fin identifies hatchery fish from their wild counterparts.  In selective fisheries, hatchery fish may be harvested while wild fish must be released unharmed.  Federal law now requires mass marking of most salmon and steelhead reared at federally funded hatcheries.

Pictured left to right:  Jesse, Geoff, Dan, Darren, Pat, Steve, and James  (Chuck is not present)
The team begins each year with a few PIT tagging jobs in the Columbia River Gorge.  By mid–February, the crew starts their biggest single marking job at Spring Creek National Fish Hatchery.  They run three automated fish marking trailers (2 shifts a day) for almost two months.   Just to give you an idea about the enormity of the job, about 12 million fish are mass marked at this hatchery alone.  In addition, a small portion of those are also being inserted with a PIT tag or coded-wire tag. 

PIT-tagging at Dworshak NFH
This team has been voted the CRFPO Team of the Year because of their hard work and dedication.  The following saying was adapted from James Farley:  Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays the marking crew from the swift completion of their appointed duties.  With that, Congratulations Fish Marking Team!

Read more about the marking program at these past blogs.      Staggering Numbers http://www.fish-notes.blogspot.com/2012/02/staggering-numbers.html


Monday, October 28, 2013

Lower Columbia Fish Recovery

One of the yearly activities I engage in is site visits for projects proposed for funding by the Lower Columbia River Fish Recovery Board.   The projects that we are looking at are intended to help recover salmon and steelhead listed under the Endangered Species Act.  Fish recovery boards were established by the State of Washington in the late 1990’s to coordinate recover actions and administer State and Federal funds for fisheries restoration.  Generally, the process works like this:

·        the recovery board announces the availability and timeline for applications for a new funding round;

·        meets with project proponents to explain the application process;

·        receives draft applications from applicants;

·        schedules site visits for proposed projects;

·        schedules a draft review with the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC);

·        provides comments back to applicants to incorporate into final applications;

·        schedules a final project review and ranking with the TAC;

·        presents the TAC recommended project list to the board for approval.

There are a few other steps at the State level, but basically this is the process that starts again the following year.  Below are photos taken during this years’first-day site visits for proposed projects in May.

Rock Creek looking upstream from the bridge.  This is a preservation project to maintain good conditions in a productive stream.

Rock Creek in the Lewis River Basin.  Sometimes conditions can be hazardous.  Proposed project is land acquisition to protect existing habitat values.

This is a side-channel site on the East Fork Lewis River that is being proposed as a design project to improve habitat conditions.  The East Fork Lewis River can be seen in the background.

Upper Daybreak Park site on the East Fork Lewis River, site of proposed project to add cover and habitat complexity for fish.  Note the lack of features in the existing channel, as well as bank erosion on the meander bend.

This is a site on the East Fork Lewis River near the town of La Center Washington.  The project is a design project to augment fish habitat in the existing wetland.

Submitted by Ron Rhew

Monday, October 21, 2013

Smoked Salmon and Cheddar Cheese Biscuits Recipe

Salty and cheesy with an orange tint from the carrot juice; these biscuits are splendid as well as nutritious and a worthy replacement for cookies as an after school snack during this festive Halloween season. It’s fun to watch the kids decorate the biscuits and gobble them up fresh out of the oven!

Yield: 12 large biscuits


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 stick (2 ounces) cold butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes, plus more for brushing
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup finely diced smoked salmon
  • 1/2 cup carrot juice2 eggs, beaten


  • 12 black or green olives

Brush on Top:

  •  2 tablespoons butter, melted
  •  ½ teaspoon paprika powder


  1. Preheat the oven to 400°.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the all-purpose flour with the sugar, baking powder, salt and paprika.
  3. Cut in the butter using a pastry cutter or two knives, until it's the size of large peas.
  4. Stir in the cheese and salmon and make a well in the center.
  5. In a small bowl, combine the carrot juice and eggs. Pour the liquid into the well and quickly stir until the dough is well combined and holds together.
  6. Drop dough in 12 equal mounds about 2 inches apart onto a buttered large baking sheet.
  7. Flatten with fork and decorate with olive pieces.
  8. Bake in middle of oven until golden, 18 to 20 minutes.
  9. When biscuits come out of the oven, use a brush to spread butter/paprika over the tops of all the biscuits. Serve hot.
Submitted by Valerie Sinesky 

    Friday, September 27, 2013

    Christina Uh - Pathways Hire

    I would like to introduce you to Christina Uh.  She began working for the Columbia River Fisheries Program Office in July of 2012.  She was hired through the Pathways program.   Pathways is a hiring program designed by the Office of Personnel Management for current students and recent graduates seeking careers with the federal government.    Christina is of Mayan and Navajo descent and is the first member of her family to attend college.   She is a student at Portland State University seeking a degree in Environmental Sciences.  Christina‘s anatomy and physiology teacher at Forest Gove High School, Dr. Romanick,  saw tremendous potential in Christina and encouraged her to further her education.  Although she was hired as an office assistant, Christina has had a variety of experiences working for the Fish and Wildlife Service.    Over the summer, she took the lead in a lamprey feeding study at Eagle Creek National Fish Hatchery.   Some of her other experiences include volunteering to herd deer on the Willapa National Wildlife Refuge,  helping with electrofishing surveys, and even cleaning fish hatchery raceways.    In addition to working for the CRFPO, Christina also works at the Native America Student and Community Center while attending Portland State.    Christina has been a tremendous addition to the CRFPO and we support her in her pursuit of a career in natural resources.

    Submitted by Larry Fishler

    Thursday, September 5, 2013

    Stickleback Trivia

    For those of us who have ever sampled fish, the three-spined stickleback is no stranger.  There have been times I have counted hundreds, sometimes thousands of stickleback in a day.  In honor of this little, sometimes often overlooked fish, I'd like to share some stickleback trivia with you. 

    Trivia #1
     The common name of this fish is derived from the three sharp spines on the back in front of the dorsal fin.  The sides of the stickleback are usually covered with large bony plates.

    Trivia #2
    During mating season, the male develops bright colors and becomes quite aggressive.  They perform a courtship ritual to entice females to lay their eggs inside a hollow nest. After the female lays her eggs and leaves the nest, the male takes over parental duties, guarding the fertilized eggs, and if necessary, fanning them with his tail to provide them with oxygen.

    Trivia #3
    The colorful, aggressive male sticklebacks, became excellent examples of  fixed-action patterns of behavior when jealous stickleback males held in aquaria would try to attack red British mail trucks when they could see them through the glass of their tanks.  Read more.

    Trivia #3
    Sticklebacks can be found in fresh, brackish, or salt water and is native to much of northern Europe, northern Asia, and North America. 

    Trivia #4
    Catches of stickleback were once so numerous that the fish were used as fertilizer for farmlands in Europe.

    Trivia #5
    In Britain, the stickleback is sometimes referred to as a "tiddler", the first small fish caught by school children.  Charles Dickens wrote of the stickleback in the Pickwick Papers and called them "tiddle-bats".

    Trivia #6
    These fish have recently become a major research organism for evolutionary biologists trying to understand the genetic changes involved in adapting to new environments.
    Nature:  Stickleback genomes reveal path of evolution
    YouTube:  Stickleback Evolution

    Friday, August 30, 2013

    Blast from the Past: Rough and Tumble

    Umatilla NWR was considering “creative” options for increasing revenue when this ad was posted. What’s really amazing is the estimate to how much they could make off of selling tumbleweeds. Just goes to show you… “one man’s trash….”

     On a side note, do not try and run over tumbleweeds. They may look like a brittle, little bush, but there’s a trunk in the middle of it and it will do a number on your car.


    Submitted by Nadia Jones

    Wednesday, August 7, 2013

    Catch a Special Thrill

    The weather could not have been nicer.  The fish were feisty and ready to bite.  Everything was in place for the C.A.S.T. (Catch a Special Thrill) event facilitated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  The event was held at Bonneville Hatchery, a great location in the Columbia River gorge.  About 40 people, aged seven to adult signed up for the event. 

    Just around 9am, the first waves of families began to arrive to claim their fishing pole, tackle box, t-shirt, and hat.  I met Sarah just as she arrived and decided to help her fish and enjoy the other activities.  We gathered our gear and headed directly to the fishing pond.  No, Sarah did not need any casting lessons at the casting station.  She was ready to catch her first fish.  No more than a minute went by after her worm hit the water when she got a bite.  Her fish was the first of many fish to be caught that day.

    Fishing was by far the most popular activity of the day but other activities included a casting station, salmon migration mini golf, a water safety demonstration, and a wheel to spin and win prizes.  And of course, we can’t forget the biggest fish at the event either.  That would be Herman the Sturgeon and his friends.   The day ended with a BBQ lunch and a ceremony in which each individual was called up to receive a plaque with their picture.  A nice souvenir to remember the day. 
    This event was made possible by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, in partnership with the C.A.S.T. Foundation, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Kiwanis, and United Cerebral Palsy of Oregon and SW Washington.  

    Saturday, July 13, 2013

    Tasty Trouble ...

      In a blind taste test, consumers rated this canned fish equal to or better than canned tuna and salmon.  What fish?  For the answer to this question (and many more), visit our aquatic nuisance species webpage.

    Friday, June 21, 2013

    Blast froom the Past: 1955 - Photographs

    The folks at Malheur NWR in 1955 exposed approximately 300 feet of 16mm Kodachrome film. The photos include wildlife and livestock operations. These photos span only 3 months!! Talk about shutterbugs. They also note in the narrative that an additional 130 feet was taken of carp control projects and that they hope another year of photography will provide sufficient material from which a film could be made. The Malheur Movie!
    Just exactly how many photographs do you have to go through when it’s easier to report the number in feet instead of images?

    Click on the pictures below to enlarge.

    Submitted by Nadia Jones, Geographer

    Friday, June 7, 2013

    Don't Let It Loose! - Alternatives to Release

    The pet and aquarium trade represents a little known route by which many plants and animals make their way into natural waterways. In recent posts we discussed a few of the most notorious trouble makers; the mystery snail, American bullfrog, Oriental weatherfish, red swamp crayfish, Eurasian water-milfoil, goldfish, and red-eared slider. Remember their faces! Don’t let them loose!

    As this cartoon by Jack Ohman of the Oregonian depicts, released classroom pets like the Louisiana red swamp crayfish can be a menace!

    Next time you are trying to figure out what to do with unwanted aquarium pets consider these options listed below. Your actions can make a huge difference in preventing the spread of aquatic invasive species!

    · Contact your pet store for donation, return, or exchange options.

    · Give your unwanted plants and fish to another hobbyist, public aquarium, school, or community center.

    · Bag and trash aquatic plants and pour aquarium water in upland areas of your yard instead of storm drains, sink or toilet.

    · You can also freeze plants for 24 hours and place them into the garbage.

    · Remember to learn about the needs of particular aquarium species before you buy.

    · If all else fails, contact your local veterinarian for humane disposal options.

    Hang this
    poster to help you remember all these great alternatives to release. View Oregon Field Guide: Crayfish Invasion to learn about impacts of crayfish released from classrooms in Oregon.

    Submitted by Briita Orwick, Pacific Region

    Thursday, June 6, 2013

    Don't Let It Loose! - Eurasian Watermilfoil

    Don’t Let It Loose! - Eurasian watermilfoil, Myriophyllum spicatum
    Where does the species originate from?
    Eurasian watermilfoil originates from Europe and Asia.
    How is it introduced and spread?
    Milfoil was once commonly sold as an aquarium plant. Now it is largely spread through escapes or releases from ornamental ponds, boat trailers moving between waterbodies, and subsequent natural dispersal. Wildlife, water currents and flood events can all carry small fragments of the plant to new places where it can reproduce vegetatively. This means it only takes a small stem or plant fragment to start new colonies in waterbodies where it is introduced.
    Environmental impact:

    This aquatic plant grows in dense patches, excluding light from native species and creates stagnant areas with low oxygen levels below the large floating mats. Recreational activities such as fishing, swimming and boating are greatly impaired where thick mats occur. 

    Milfoil facts:
    ·       Milfoil can grow up to 2 inches per day.
    ·       A single fragment of stem or leaves can begin a new milfoil infestation.
    ·       Eurasian milfoil has been spread by earthworm farmers who packed their product in the aquatic plant for transport.
    Don’t Let It Loose!  Even though Eurasian watermilfoil forms dense infestations in 43 states, it has not yet been added to the U.S. Federal Noxious Weed List and continues to be sold through aquarium supply dealers and over the Internet. Only you can prevent its spread! Clean, Drain, and Dry your boat and equipment after recreating in your favorite lake or waterbody.
    Submitted by Briita Orwick, Aquatic Invasive Species Intern, Pacific Region 

    Wednesday, June 5, 2013

    Don't Let It Loose! - Red-eared Slider

    Don’t Let It Loose!Red-eared slider, Trachemys scripta elegans
    Where does the species originate from?
    Red-eared sliders are native to the southern United States and northern Mexico.
    How are they introduced and spread?
    Red-eared sliders have been widely introduced through the pet trade.  Turtle ownership reached its peak in popularity during the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle craze of the late 1980’s and early 1990’s when it was revealed the crime fighting “heroes in a half shell” were red-eared sliders.  Unfortunately many turtles escaped or were intentionally released into the wild when owners grew tired of caring for them; not realizing the turtles can live up to 40 years and grow up to 13 inches.
    Environmental impact:
    Red-eared sliders are very aggressive turtles and will often displace and outcompete native turtles for common food, nesting and basking sites.  Red-eared sliders released into the wild may also transmit parasites or disease to native populations.
    Turtle facts:
    ·       The red-eared slider is on the list of 100 of the World’s Worst Invasive Alien Species.
    ·       Small turtles may carry the salmonella bacteria that can be transmitted to humans.
    ·       A group of turtles is called a “bale”.

    Don’t Let It Loose! Educate yourself about the needs of a particular species before buying.  How big will it grow?  How long will it live?  How much care will it need?

    Submitted by Jen Poirier

    Tuesday, June 4, 2013

    Don't Let It Loose! - Oriental Weatherfish

    Don’t Let It Loose! Oriental weatherfish, Misgurnus anguillicaudatus

    Where does the species originate from?
    Oriental weatherfish are native to eastern Asia from Siberia south to northern Vietnam, including Japan.
    How they are introduced and spread?
    Oriental weatherfish are commonly sold in the aquarium trade and can be introduced to the wild when aquariums are dumped, or bait buckets are emptied. Previous accidental introductions are from aquaculture facilities where fish escaped into the wild. Their use as a food fish is also linked with their purposeful introduction into the wild to create harvestable populations.
    Environmental impact:

    Oriental weatherfish can reduce populations of aquatic insects that are important as food to native fishes. They are voracious eaters, can adapt to a wide range of habitats, and breed prolifically. They can also increase turbidity and nitrogen levels in standing water, which may negatively impact water quality.

    Fish facts:
    ·       Before there was the weather guy on the news to recommend we pack a raincoat, people kept oriental weatherfish as pets to predict the weather. This popular aquarium species is highly sensitive to changes in barometric pressure, which can accompany a change in weather. Agitated activity and fast swimming in circles are sure signs major weather changes are imminent.  
    ·       Weatherfish can breathe atmospheric oxygen.
    ·       Copious amounts of slime protect the fish against predation and desiccation.

    Don’t Let It Loose!  Approximately 1/3 of aquatic nuisance species that currently threaten aquatic ecosystems originate from the aquarium and ornamental species trade (Padilla & Williams, 2004).

    Submitted by Briita Orwick, Aquatic Invasive Species Intern, Pacific Region

    Monday, June 3, 2013

    Don't Let It Loose! - American Bullfrog

    Don’t Let It Loose!American Bullfrog, Rana catesbeiana
    Where does the species originate from?
    Bullfrogs are native to eastern North America.
    How are they introduced and spread?
    Bullfrogs have been introduced accidentally during fish stocking operations, and stocked intentionally as a food source (frog legs anyone?), biological control agent of insect pests, or released as unwanted pets or classroom specimen.
    Environmental impact:
    Bullfrogs are not picky eaters and will consume anything they can fit in their large mouths.  Check out this video to see what I mean! (http://video.nationalgeographic.com/video/animals/amphibians-animals/frogs-and-toads/frog_bull/).  Because of their large size and voracious appetite, bullfrogs displace native species, prey directly on many native species, and compete with native species for limited food resources.  Bullfrogs are known to spread a potentially lethal skin disease (a chytrid fungus), which has led to the extinction of at least 100 frog species worldwide.  The bullfrog has also been blamed for the decline of many native amphibian populations in western states including: leopard frogs, garter snakes, red-legged frogs, Oregon spotted frogs, and Western pond turtles. 
    Frog facts:
    ·       Bullfrogs may travel overland up to a mile to find new habitat.
    ·       The American Bullfrog is on the list of 100 of the World’s Worst Invasive Alien Species.
    ·       A group of frogs is called an “army”.

    Don’t Let It Loose!  The bullfrog is classified as a prohibited aquatic animal species in the state of Washington (http://apps.leg.wa.gov/WAC/default.aspx?cite=220-12-090) and may not be possessed, imported, purchased, sold, transported, or released into state waters.
    Submitted by Jen Poirier

    Friday, May 31, 2013

    Don't Let It Loose! - Mystery Snail

    Don’t Let It Loose!
    Mystery snail, trapdoor snail, Cipangopaludina chinensis malleata

    Where does the species originate from?
    Mystery snails’ native distribution ranges from southeast Asia to Japan and eastern Russia.
    How they are introduced and spread?
    Mystery snails are introduced to the wild when aquariums are dumped, ornamental ponds are flooded or bait buckets are emptied. In some places it may be sold (often illegally) in both the live food trade and the aquarium/ornamental pond trade.
    Environmental impact:

    Impacts are unknown although large populations have been discovered in ponds, sloughs, etc. It is thought that they can compete with native snails. They are potential vectors for the transmission of parasites and diseases. In large numbers, their shells can clog water intake screens.

    Snail facts:
    ·       The name mystery snail originates from the way these snails reproduce. Females are live-bearers  giving birth to crawling young, so to anyone observing this it appears the baby snails are mysteriously appearing out from under the mother snails shell.
    ·       Mystery snails have a trapdoor or operculum at the mouth of their shell that protects the snail against predators, pollutants, and desiccation (drying out).
    ·       Mystery snails can grow up to 2.5 inches and live up to 5 years.
    Don’t Let It Loose!  Never release aquarium plants or animals into a natural water body, whether it is a small local pond, lake, or nearby river.
    Submitted by Briita Orwick, Aquatic Invasive Species Intern, Region 1