The Tillamook Bay Watershed Council (TBWC) and Pelican Brewing Company are pleased to announce the return of world-renowned geologist Brian Atwater to Tillamook County for a special event next Monday evening at the Bay City Arts Center. Atwater is best known for discovering geologic evidence of past subduction-zone earthquakes, and for connecting that evidence to historical records of trans-Pacific tsunamis in Japan. He co-authored a professional paper in 2005 that told the story of the “Orphan Tsunami of 1700,” connecting his scientific work in North America with accounts written by Samurai, merchants and villagers in 18th-century Japan. It’s a gripping detective story, and one that has major relevance to the people of Tillamook County. Atwater’s work has contributed significantly to our understanding of subduction-zone quakes and the resulting tsunamis, and has influenced policy and emergency preparedness strategies.
Join the TBWC next Monday, June 12th, from 6:30PM to 8:00PM at the Bay City Arts Center to hear the whole story and to understand how these important discoveries affect all of us who live on the Oregon Coast. Pelican Brewing will provide beer, and the TBWC will serve light refreshments. Admission is free and open to the public, but donations will be gladly accepted.
The Tillamook Bay Watershed Council is a local not-for-profit organizationbuilding collaborative, voluntary partnerships with communities and landowners. Its mission is to protect, maintain and improve the health of our watershed through on-the-ground restoration projects, educational outreach programs, and other community-engagement activities. This event represents a new partnership with Pelican Brewing to offer a series of public events that promote awareness of watershed issues.
Have you ever wondered what makes a rainbow trout become a “steelhead?” Have you ever caught a glimpse of steelhead swimming and spawning in the wild? These incredible ocean-going trout are among the most revered gamefish in the world, and they attract thousands of anglers to Tillamook County’s rivers every year. Steelhead are also one of the most beautiful and interesting inhabitants of our rainforest environment. This coming weekend offers a rare chance to learn about these fascinating fish on a special “steelhead ecology” hike along Tillamook’s spectacular Kilchis River. Join naturalists from the Tillamook Bay Watershed Council (TBWC) and Tillamook Estuaries Partnership (TEP) as they lead hikers along sections of the Kilchis, looking for spawning pairs of steelhead, and discussing aspects of steelhead biology and behavior. Registration is FREE and required for this event.
When, Where & What to Bring: This coming Saturday, April 8th from 10:00AM to 1:00PM at the Mapes Creek Landing (aka the “Logger Bridge”) on the Kilchis River. Bring boots, raingear and a snack, as well as a pair of polarized sunglasses if you have them.
Difficulty: Moderate; approximately 2 miles round-trip. Trail is typically muddy and will include navigating uneven terrain and hopping across two small streams.
Cost: The event is FREE, although there will be a $4 parking fee per vehicle, payable by cash or check to the Tillamook County Parks Department.
Registration: Required and available at EventBrite.com by following the link below:
Explore Nature is a series of hikes, walks, paddles and outdoor adventures hosted throughout Tillamook County by a coalition of conservation organizations. These meaningful, nature-based experiences highlight the unique beauty of Tillamook County and the work being done to preserve and conserve the area’s natural resources and natural resource-based economy. Explore Nature is partially funded by the Economic Development Council of Tillamook County and Visit Tillamook Coast.
The TBWC and TEP are local, not-for-profit organizations working to build voluntary partnerships with communities and landowners to protect, maintain and improve the health of our waters, fish and wildlife. Learn more about our on-the-ground restoration projects, educational outreach programs, and other community-engagement activities on our “Projects” page, and at www.tbnep.org.
Our Council members spend a lot of time in and around the Tillamook Bay, which means we are always surrounded by birds. We recognize some of them on sight: bald eagles, red tailed hawks, great blue herons, as well as local favorites, like the great egret and the white tailed kite. We are familiar with several of the many different duck species that frequent our bay: mallards, buffleheads, goldeneyes. But there are dozens of species that fly or swim by us that get lumped into broad categories like “gulls” or “shore birds.” Even experienced birders can be daunted by the number of species, especially given their seasonal changes in plumage. So when our Council Coordinator got the chance to participate in the 53rd Annual Christmas Bird Count on Tillamook Bay, he jumped at the chance, even if it required a pre-dawn meeting on a cold winter’s day. Here’s Rob’s report from December 17th, 2016:
Our team met at the Tillamook Denny’s at 6:30AM. It was still dark, but a fresh layer of snow made everything seem brighter, and colder! Denise H. and I were paired with a master birder named John P. who has been doing bird counts for over 40 years. We knew we were in for a real education, and it sure turned out that way.
We launched the boat at Park’s Landing on the lower Kilchis and floated out to Hathaway Slough and Kilchis Point. It snowed periodically, which added a magical quality to the morning. We made several stops on gravel bars to set up the spotting scope, where John counted literally thousands of waterfowl and shorebirds. From there we proceeded to Bay City, counting as we went, and arrived at Pacific Oyster just in time for lunch. Then we climbed back in the boat and motored across the bay to the Bayocean side. This was important because there were birds that John knew would be associated with the eel grass beds in the middle and West bay. Then we made our way up to Dick Point and the Picket Fence, where we crossed back to the east side and explored the massive delta of the Kilchis, Wilson and Trask. Since the Southern Flow Corridor project had mostly finished, we were able to enter Blind Slough for the first time–very exciting. And we were all blown away by the beauty of the newly-connected tidal channel. Our team ended the day at Memaloose Point with over 8,000 birds counted, representing 65 species. There were 14 other birders who participated–a total of 17. Between all of us we counted 27,381 birds of 121 species. A few points of interest from the organizer, Owen Schmidt: The biggest news was the Hooded Oriole coming to the Tweelinckx’s in the Village of Meares and staying at least until Count Day. Not everyone who stopped by saw the bird, which had been coming daily but stayed only briefly. The bird was photographed in the days prior to the Count and appears on eBird lists. Say’s Phoebe was seen for only the third time, a single bird near the Air Museum. A total. of 13 Western Bluebirds from 2 locations set a new high Count record. Great Egrets continue to grow in their winter numbers with 114 birds from several locations.
Click here to see a PDF of the complete species list and tally from the 53rd Tillamook CBC:
Tillamook has been an epicenter of salmon habitat restoration efforts over the last two years. In fact, we are currently hosting the largest wetland-restoration project in Oregon’s history. Tillamook County’s Southern Flow Corridor Landowner Preferred Alternativeproject–usually referred to as “Southern Flow” for the sake of brevity–is reconnecting 520 acres of tidal wetlands in the Wilson-Trask Delta. The summer of 2015 saw The Nature Conservancy’s reconnection of Stasek Slough to the Kilchis River, and the excavation of miles of tidal channels, nearly doubling the available wetland habitat in the Kilchis Delta. And going back a few years earlier, the Miami Wetlands project restored tidal wetlands at the mouth of the Miami River. Collectively, these projects add up to over 650 acres of restored habitat for juvenile salmon, and they represent a major pendulum swing in local land use, from dairy farming to the natural production of salmon.
In the Tillamook, roughly 85% of tidal wetlands were reclaimed as farmland from the late 1800s through the 1970s. That meant the clearing of Sitka spruce forests and swamps and the diking of large areas to prevent tidal influence and saltwater intrusion. With the dikes came tidegates which were designed to allow water to flow off the land, but to prevent water from flowing in. This massive loss of juvenile rearing habitat is now recognized as one of the primary limiting factors for Tillamook’s coho and Chinook salmon populations, which today are roughly 10% to 30% of their historic abundance, depending on the species.
With so many major restoration projects rolling out in the Tillamook, the big question is How will the fish respond? For the answer to that question, we’ll have to be patient, but we do have a very good case study just two watersheds to the south which points to a hopeful outcome. The Salmon River estuary, just north of Lincoln City, was the scene of intensive restoration of wetlands from 1978 to 2011, resulting in over 400 acres of reconnected salmon habitat. NOAA scientist Daniel Bottom, along with a team of fisheries scientists, studied the response of coho and Chinook salmon populations during the same period. They also looked at how the wetlands performed as rearing habitat for young salmon and how the fish used the habitat. Bottom and his team found that the diversity of coho and Chinook life-history strategies expanded dramatically with the increased rearing opportunity. And they estimated an increase of 20% to 40% of returning adult salmon as a result of the restored habitats. It was the first local study to quantify the benefits of wetland restoration to salmon, and to clearly demonstrate the connection between wetlands habitats and life-history diversity. In the years since the Salmon River studies, Bottom and others have gone on to suggest that life-history diversity among salmon is likely the key to survival in a changing world. And since wetland restoration has been shown to restore that diversity, it follows that wetland restoration is critical to the adaptation and survival of salmon populations as climate changes and sea levels rise.
Join the Tillamook Bay Watershed Council the evening of October 25th for a special presentation by Daniel Bottom. He will share experiences and revelations from his time on the Salmon River, and he will discuss the potential gains from our local restoration efforts. Don’t miss this rare chance to learn some of the latest findings in fisheries science from one of our area’s leading researchers. The presentation will be held in the Hatfield Room at the Tillamook County Library from 6:30PM to 7:30PM. We hope to see you there!
If you missed Dan’s presentation you can still see his slide deck here, and it’s a big deal: Salmon River Study
Every August the Tillamook Bay Watershed Council holds an outdoor potluck and picnic that is open to the public. It’s a special opportunity to share good company and good food in a beautiful location, preferably near one of our restoration project sites. This year the event falls on Tuesday, August 30th and will be held at Anderson Hill Park from 6:30PM to 8:30PM. The park is adjacent to Mill Creek, where the TBWC’s summer project is underway. So bring your hiking boots and be ready for an after-dinner expedition. We’ll tour a number of large-wood structures and discuss the “whys” and “hows” behind their design and placement. For those who aren’t familiar, the entrance to Anderson Hill Park is directly behind the Officer’s Mess Hall, 6825 Officers Row (just east of the Air Museum). We will not hold a business meeting that evening.
Here’s an updated Coordinator’s Report to get everyone up to speed on our active projects:
Council Coordinator’s Report, August 17th, 2016
Mill Creek Habitat Enhancement – TCSWCD has installed the main posts for the new fence line and strung a single high-tensile electric wire at 42” height. So far Mr. Obrist’s cows have not crossed the line, but I will be surveying the area every day to make sure the fence remains secure. The OYA work crew has removed most of the old fence and will finish this week. Steve Trask has surveyed our Mill Creek reach and has provided specifications for each of our large wood structure sites. The number of sites has been reduced from 22 to 17 after consultations from Trask and ODFW habitat biologist Troy Laws. Custom Excavating will begin pushing over Sitka spruce trees on the south side of Anderson Hill Park Thursday, August 18th. They will harvest 44 trees, cut them to specified lengths, and haul them to staging areas adjacent to Mill Creek. In-stream construction of large wood structures is scheduled begin August 25th and continue through September 9th. Our Council potluck at Anderson Hill Park on August 30th will provide a rare opportunity for people to tour a working restoration project.
OK Ranch, Miami River – Final designs have been provided by Meghan Walter, NRCS engineer. We plan to submit an application to DSL and the Army Corps this week, followed by a County Development Permit. So far no contractors have been able to confirm availability for working on the project, and we still need to secure roughly $30K in match funding to move this project forward.
Skookum Dam Removal – We kicked off the project in July with a meeting in Salem. Our two engineering contractors met face to face and came to a consensus on roles, responsibilities and next steps. Our goal is to have final designs and a bid package ready to go in October of this year to ensure we get the best contractor possible for construction. Total cost of project $514,298; OWEB funds requested: $264,198. Construction scheduled for summer 2017.
Coast Range Road (South Fork Trask) – Jon Wehage offered up 400 more seedlings on behalf of Stimson Lumber for the replanting plan during our OWEB Review Team site visit on June 2nd. The unofficial word is that the project will be recommended for funding, and Stimson’s commitment to the project was apparently a key factor in that decision. Thank you, Jon & Stimson! Total cost of project: $129,465; OWEB funds requested: $91,365. Construction scheduled for summer 2017.
Mill Creek Culverts – No word from the Carlsons on their crossing, or whether they plan to have Euchre Mountain do any in-stream work this summer. Next step for the remaining passage barriers is to apply for a TA grant to get design dollars.
Headquarters Camp Creek, Trask River –Three culvert replacements and a series of large wood structures are planned for the lowest mile of the creek, above its confluence with Stretch Creek. ODF is working on design for the main culvert now for a 2017 or 2018 installation. The Council plans to submit an OWEB Restoration Grant application for October 2016 in the amount of $60,000 to $80,000.
Holden Creek Tidegates – Troy Downing has reached out to the Tillamook River Drainage District on behalf of new operators in the flood areas between HWY101 and McCormick Loop. Awaiting a call from Darrell Fletcher to set a meeting date when our partnership can make the case for a solution.
Upcoming events – Here’s a list of our remaining meetings and events for 2016 so everyone can get them on the calendar:
August 30th – Potluck & Picnic, Anderson Hill Park (behind the Officer’s Mess Hall at the Port)
September 27th – The Oregon Wetlands Bill with Chad Allen and Hilary Foote, Tillamook Co. Library
October 25th – Pathways to Resilience by Daniel Bottom, Tillamook County Library
November 29th – Speaker TBD, Tillamook County Library
December 27th – Annual Holiday Party, Bay City Arts Center
All of the above Council events will be held from 6:30PM to 8:00PM on their respective dates.
For more information contact: Robert Russell, Council Coordinator, 503-322-0002
Derek Wiley is one of the “fishiest” guys in Tillamook. Not only is he an avid angler, he is also a research biologist at our local ODFW office. He supervises two field crews responsible for monitoring abundance of adult and juvenile salmonids in the NF Nehalem and EF Trask Rivers for the state’s Salmonid Life Cycle Monitoring (LCM) project. That means he has his finger on the pulse of our local fish populations, literally.
The Tillamook Bay Watershed Council (TBWC) has been fortunate to join Derek and his crew for some eye-opening days at their fish traps. These folks work extremely hard to collect population data critical to our understanding and protection of our fisheries. They are the unsung heroes on the front lines of fisheries conservation. Thankfully, Derek dedicated himself to recording key moments from the 2015/16 field season, which he has edited into two documentary films that will inspire anyone with a passion for fish.
Join us May 31st at the Tillamook County Library (6:30PM) for a special screening of Derek’s films. Journey’s Endis an 18-minute video capturing underwater behavior and spawning of wild chum salmon, Chinook salmon, coho salmon, and Pacific lamprey in several rivers and creeks on the northern Oregon Coast. Salmonid Life Cycle Monitoring on the NF Nehalem Riveris a documentary about ODFW’s Life Cycle Monitoring activities on the North Fork Nehalem River with a focus on the 2015 fall salmon trapping season. Footage for both was primarily captured with a GoPro camera and editing was done with iMovie11. The two films showcase the journey of anadromous fish species during spawning season and offer a behind the scenes look at ODFW’s Salmonid Life Cycle Monitoring Program.