Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Now Back To Our Regularly Scheduled Rant

Oh yes friends I have got plenty to rant about too!
I was reading in the latest edition of Northwest Fly Fishing about how the state of Washington is cutting back on hatchery winter steelhead releases in the Cowlitz river and they have raised the bag limit from two fish to six fin clipped steelhead.
Why are they doing this? Why all of the sudden has Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife decided maybe just maybe wild fish are important enough to try to restore in this major Columbia tributary? It's not just hatchery steelhead that are being cut back either. WDFW is also taking steps to restore wild salmon and coastal cutthroat trout.
Now admittedly it may be too late to save SW Washington wild salmonids. The damage has been both severe and long lasting. I recall a day some thirty two years ago standing above the Cowlitz river and seeing the thousands of hatchery winter steelhead stacked up below Barrier Dam. Of course the fishermen were also "stacked up" trying to hook them! It was not exactly what I would call a defining moment of pristine Pacific Northwest angling if you know what I mean. The state of Washington had turned the Cowlitz into just another hatchery fish super highway and the damage may be irreversible but we can hope.
The point of this rant, however, is why can't we get the same enlightenment here in Oregon ? Heck why can't we get the same enlightenment on the northern coast of Oregon for that matter?

I went to an ODFW budget meeting the other night and had the pleasure of meeting Todd Alsbury, a fish biologist for ODFW. Todd is in charge of the winter steelhead broodstock programs on both the Clackamas and Sandy rivers. He told me that they do not use 100% wild stock for the source of eggs for this program like is done on the Wilson, Siletz and Nestucca rivers. They use only 30% and they see to it that the returning generation broodstock off springs do not stray into the upper river to mix with wild fish. Hey I call that pretty progressive don't you? We know that the hatchery spectre is here to stay and we have become addicted to it and therefore it would be impossible to totally end hatcheries. While it is not realistic to think we can end all hatchery plants we can expect and even demand responsible hatchery practices and procedures. We are not getting this on the northwest coastal river of Oregon and you just have to wonder why?
Why is our neighboring state trying to undo years of hatchery fish damage to great rivers like the Cowlitz.Taking it a step further even in regions of our own state progressive thinking fish biologists are trying, within the constraints and agendas put forth by ODFW mind you, to take into consideration the plight of wild salmonids?
This is what you get with no basin management plan and district biologists are given pretty much free reign as far as this program goes.So who is running the show in Tillamook? Why is there such a vast difference between Oregon and Washington and even within different regions around the state? I cannot get information from district biologists as to how much time they actually spend on wild cutthroat populations in the Tillamook basin much less answers to the way the wild fish are managed or should I say mismanaged.
I was,however, able to find a picture of who is in charge in Tillamook and it's posted above.....nyuck, nyuck, nuyck.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Wild Fish are Important

I rant a lot on this blog about wild fish and how important they are but being just a layman I am not eloquent enough to put it layman's terms as to the importance of wild fish . As a matter of fact I don't even try because there are scores of people who know this stuff better than me so the practical thing to do is let them explain it.

I gleaned the following from The Wild Steelhead Coalition website. Whose website is linked in "Friends of the Quiet Pool" column.

All species live in constantly changing environments. To overcome environmental
fluctuations, it is essential for species to exploit all available habitat. The long-term existence of a species is maximized through the adaptation of numerous populations and sub-populations to specific environmental conditions. These adaptations have evolved over hundreds and thousands of generations in concert with a natural, fluctuating environment. As the environment changes so does the composition of individuals within a population.
While the environment acts as a changing variable to individuals within a population, the one constant is that individuals pass their genetic makeup, which includes chromosomes, genes, and non-coding regions of the genome, to their offspring. This inherited genetic material is passed from one generation to the next as the foundation upon which individual uniqueness and population differences are maintained and is known as genetic diversity.The genetic diversity maintained within a species is a genetic reservoir upon which natural selection acts.Populations with unnaturally altered or low levels of genetic diversity can be stripped of their evolutionary future because their ability to respond to changing environments has been reduced. Loss of genetic diversity can lead to reductions in fitness and decrease an individuals ability to adapt to environmental changes. Fitness is a measure of an individuals potential to produce viable offspring. Fitness reductions can be caused by either inbreeding or genetic drift. Inbreeding is often observed in populations with low numbers of mating individuals, and occurs when closely related individuals mate as opposed to unrelated 26 individuals. Inbreeding often increases the frequency of deleterious genes within a population.
A classic example of inbreeding and its effect is the lethal genetic disease hemophilia within the European monarchies, most notably Queen Victoria of England and her descendants.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Food For Thought

I know at least a few of you that read this blog are persons of faith. I would hope the following entry will not offend but perhaps make those of you that beleive in a creator open to opposing ideas/

Science Must Destroy Religion
By Sam Harris
Most people believe that the Creator of the universe wrote (or dictated) one of their books. Unfortunately, there are many books that pretend to divine authorship, and each makes incompatible claims about how we all must live. Despite the ecumenical efforts of many well-intentioned people, these irreconcilable religious commitments still inspire an appalling amount of human conflict.
In response to this situation, most sensible people advocate something called "religious tolerance." While religious tolerance is surely better than religious war, tolerance is not without its liabilities. Our fear of provoking religious hatred has rendered us incapable of criticizing ideas that are now patently absurd and increasingly maladaptive. It has also obliged us to lie to ourselves — repeatedly and at the highest levels — about the compatibility between religious faith and scientific rationality.
The conflict between religion and science is inherent and (very nearly) zero-sum. The success of science often comes at the expense of religious dogma; the maintenance of religious dogma always comes at the expense of science. It is time we conceded a basic fact of human discourse: either a person has good reasons for what he believes, or he does not. When a person has good reasons, his beliefs contribute to our growing understanding of the world. We need not distinguish between "hard" and "soft" science here, or between science and other evidence-based disciplines like history. There happen to be very good reasons to believe that the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941. Consequently, the idea that the Egyptians actually did it lacks credibility. Every sane human being recognizes that to rely merely upon "faith" to decide specific questions of historical fact would be both idiotic and grotesque — that is, until the conversation turns to the origin of books like the bible and the Koran, to the resurrection of Jesus, to Muhammad's conversation with the angel Gabriel, or to any of the other hallowed travesties that still crowd the altar of human ignorance.
Science, in the broadest sense, includes all reasonable claims to knowledge about ourselves and the world. If there were good reasons to believe that Jesus was born of a virgin, or that Muhammad flew to heaven on a winged horse, these beliefs would necessarily form part of our rational description of the universe. Faith is nothing more than the license that religious people give one another to believe such propositions when reasons fail. The difference between science and religion is the difference between a willingness to dispassionately consider new evidence and new arguments, and a passionate unwillingness to do so. The distinction could not be more obvious, or more consequential, and yet it is everywhere elided, even in the ivory tower.
Religion is fast growing incompatible with the emergence of a global, civil society. Religious faith — faith that there is a God who cares what name he is called, that one of our books is infallible, that Jesus is coming back to earth to judge the living and the dead, that Muslim martyrs go straight to Paradise, etc. — is on the wrong side of an escalating war of ideas. The difference between science and religion is the difference between a genuine openness to fruits of human inquiry in the 21st century, and a premature closure to such inquiry as a matter of principle. I believe that the antagonism between reason and faith will only grow more pervasive and intractable in the coming years. Iron Age beliefs — about God, the soul, sin, free will, etc. — continue to impede medical research and distort public policy. The possibility that we could elect a U.S. President who takes biblical prophesy seriously is real and terrifying; the likelihood that we will one day confront Islamists armed with nuclear or biological weapons is also terrifying, and it is increasing by the day. We are doing very little, at the level of our intellectual discourse, to prevent such possibilities. 

In the spirit of religious tolerance, most scientists are keeping silent when they should be blasting the hideous fantasies of a prior age with all the facts at their disposal.
To win this war of ideas, scientists and other rational people will need to find new ways of talking about ethics and spiritual experience. The distinction between science and religion is not a matter of excluding our ethical intuitions and non-ordinary states of consciousness from our conversation about the world; it is a matter of our being rigorous about what is reasonable to conclude on their basis. We must find ways of meeting our emotional needs that do not require the abject embrace of the preposterous. We must learn to invoke the power of ritual and to mark those transitions in every human life that demand profundity — birth, marriage, death, etc. — without lying to ourselves about the nature of reality.
I am hopeful that the necessary transformation in our thinking will come about as our scientific understanding of ourselves matures. When we find reliable ways to make human beings more loving, less fearful, and genuinely enraptured by the fact of our appearance in the cosmos, we will have no need for divisive religious myths. Only then will the practice of raising our children to believe that they are Christian, Jewish, Muslim, or Hindu be broadly recognized as the ludicrous obscenity that it is. And only then will we stand a chance of healing the deepest and most dangerous fractures in our world.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Great Shute

The Great Shute (Chute) was a name that the Lewis and Clark expedition called the Columbia River Gorge on their voyage west back in 1804.Looking past their spelling mistakes I think they described what they saw appropriately.
What a grand sight it must have been too. The huge river was teaming with migrating salmon, the abundant waterfowl nested along the shore and the deer and elk grazed the meadows along this mightiest of American rivers. Is it any wonder that Chief Joseph fought so hard for his land, this land of the Nez Perce?

Celilo Falls was just one of the major obstacle that the Corps of Discovery encountered on their journey to the Pacific ocean so long ago.
The sheer raw beauty of the river and it's gorge must have taken their breath away as they went from desert to lush Pacific rain forest.
Think about the many legendary rivers that drain into the Columbia. Names likes the Snake, Deschutes, Willamette,Clearwater and Wind just to name a few.Is it any wonder that this river was truly the river of dreams.
Those of us today cannot fathom what the Columbia once was as we travel east along I-84. We encounter man's intrusion upon river almost from the beginning. Hydro-electric dams that have forever taken away Celilo Falls and created one slack water reservoir after another.Water that in the summer time reaches the fish killing mid-seventies in temperature and pollution that makes the windsurfers near Hood River sick. These dams have become fish killing barriers with so many awful consequences that one cannot begin to list them here.
Then there are the ghosts of the huge salmon and steelhead runs of the past. Countless hundreds of thousands of all the salmon species along with steelhead,cutthroat trout and smelt are just memories anymore. Take your pick of reasons for their decline because there are many but at the bottom of it all is, of course, greed. Greed that began when in 1792 Captain Robert Gray first encountered the river which he would name after his ship. Greed when the legendary Lewis and Clark paddled down it and surely greed today.
On this Earth Day 2008 I think it is only appropriate to pay homage to the once mighty Columbia river.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Cutthroat in the Crosshairs

I heard from Rhine Messmer of ODFW that the agency will promote a coastal cutthroat trout harvest starting in 2009.
I will have petitions in River City Fly Shop and Kaufmann's by next week and I will try to get them to other shops if I am able too.
If you cannot get to those shops to sign the petitions then please by all means write ODFW and let them know that you oppose any harvest of these wild trout.
Here are some addresses to send your letter of opposition to
Keith Braun -
Ed Bowles (Fisheries Director) -
Rick Klumph -
Rhine Messmer -
You can also contact any or all of the commissioners
at the ODFW website. ODFW LINK
There will be public meetings on 5/22 in Newport and 5/23 in Tillamook. We could use as many people there as possible.
If you believe that these fish are worth saving then please make your feelings known.
With the state of Oregon planting hundreds of thousands of hatchery rainbow trout in lakes and reservoirs throughout the state there is absolutely no reason to kill wild trout!
ODFW is dealing with a revenue shortfall from declining license and tag sales so it appears they think they way to sell more licenses is to allow the killing of these wild trout.
Here is the first paragraph from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife's mission statement.
The mission of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife is to protect and enhance Oregon’s fish and wildlife and their habitats for use and enjoyment by present and future generations.
You make up your own mind if killing wild cutthroat trout fits into this strategy.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Snow in April???? The Year of Endless Winter

Above photo taken 4/20/2008 in Salem, Oregon

I should have taken a picture of the snow on my truck yesterday morning because I would not have believed it myself.
Isn't April that time of year when I take a trip east of the mountains to the Deschutes? Isn't it time to mow my lawn? Isn't it time to put away the winter steelhead gear for a few months?
I know I complain about winter a lot on this blog but who wouldn't complain after an April 20th snow shower in western Oregon. This isn't Alaska after all! Heck this isn't even Lake Tahoe where my brother tells me they got snow on the fourth of July one year.
Eventually spring and summer will get here...won't they?
Last Saturday it was eighty friggin' degrees and I was wearing shorts for crying out loud! I had to open a few windows in my home because it was so warm. I drove around with the windows on my truck down! The very next day the temperature dropped something like thirty degrees!!!! It's like what the the DJ in the movie "Ground Hog Day" radio DJ would say "Rise and shine campers! Don't forget your booties because it's cold out there. It's COLD out there everyday!What is this, Miami Beach? Not hardly!".
Have I been mysteriously transported into the cold version of that old surfer movie "The Endless Summer"? All I can say is "Cowabunga"
The way I figure it the eighty degree day was just some kind of cosmic tease and I think it may have been directed at me. Call it a conspiracy theory if you will but sorry folks I feel like I am the reason we got an eighty degree day followed by a fifty degree day. I was being punished because of all my winter whining and I dragged all my Pacific northwest neighbors down with me. Have faith though folks because I'm sure winter will not last too much longer. In fact it will arrive by fourth of July...won't it?