Unchained from my desk for a day!

A couple of weeks ago I got to head outside to help release translocated subadult and adult bull trout into the Clackamas River for a reintroduction project that I’ve been involved with for nearly three years.  These bull trout were taken from the Metolius basin, implanted with radio tags so they can be tracked, and trucked over to the Clackamas River, where they will hopefully reproduce and re-establish a population in a part of their historic range.  It was an amazingly beautiful day out, and I hope the bull trout like their new home!

You can read more about the day at the Columbia River Fisheries Program Office’s Dish on Fish blog, here.

I was sooooo robbed!!!

Alright, so our bowling league banquet night was on Saturday.  It was actually ok, except for the part where I WAS TOTALLY ROBBED OF WHAT WAS RIGHTFULLY MINE (probably)!!!  And by this, I mean the award for “most improved bowler”.  See, apparently it doesn’t matter what your starting average was at week one, or week three (three weeks being the time you need to establish your average).  No.  The starting week was week 6.  Tell me that doesn’t suck!!!  I mean, that’s certainly not the beginning of the bowling season, that’s a month and a half into it!  So, obviously, to ensure that I get this award next year, I’m going to have to bowl really sucky for the first six weeks and then kick ass.  It’s ok though, because I was also disappointed to learn that there were no trophies to be given to any of the award winners.  What’s up with THAT???  Plus, my chicken was dry (not to mention covered with mushrooms), and Chris’ steak was fatty (not to mention covered with gravy).

Ok, my rant is done.  Actually, the nice thing about the banquet is that everyone got a prize.  Chris received recognition for scoring a game over 225, and I would’ve received recognition for scoring a game over 150, but something was messed up so I’ll get my fridge magnet prize in the fall.  Sad face.  However, our team won the league champion award for coming in first place overall (which earned us $93.50)!  Our team also came in first place during sweeps week (another $37.50 in winnings…cha-ching!)!  And I won 4th place during sweeps week for the women’s singles group ($5.00 – booyah – Chris won 5th place in the men’s singles sweeps week, so he only got $4.00)!  Everyone even got some money back…Chris and I took home a total of almost $300 in winnings!  Plus, there were door prizes.  Some of them were horrendously awful, but we actually walked away with the best prizes available: a folding camp chair, an ultra-soft snuggle blanket, a beverage thermos, and a big hanging flower pot full of purple petunias.

I’m looking forward to seeing what rewards will be reaped from participating in the summer Tuesday Superbowl league!

So Long, Half-Timers!

Last week was our last night bowling with the Half-Timers league.  I think our team came in first place (shhhh…it’s a secret for now), probably due to my super high awesome handicap.  Interesting statistics:  My overall average is a 108.  However, I started the season with a 3 week average of 90, and ended the season with a 3 week average of 128.  I’m hoping to get the “most improved bowler” award at our post-season banquet in a couple of weeks! When it comes down to it, I really just want a bowling trophy – I don’t care what it’s for!  But Chris had better look out, since I start the SuperBowl league next week without him…when we both start the Half-Timers again in the fall I may be actual competition!

My bowling average through the league season.

 And, I scored my first turkey two weeks ago!  Woo hoo!

My first official race!

The Sunday after St. Patrick’s Day, Chris and I attended the Shamrock Run in Portland, along with 31,998 other people. It was sooooo freakin’ cold and rainy at first, but once we finally got moving it was rather nice. Chris ran the 8 K and I walked the 5 K Shamrock strut (or as I like to call it, the Shamwalk) with my friend Jennifer. Ok, admittedly, my event was un-timed and non-competitive, but I still got an official shirt and race bib, so it counts, right???

One small step for fish biologists, one great splash for bull trout!

**Please note: this is my personal blog and reflects my personal opinions. Any questions about this project relating to agency positions should be directed to either the US Fish and Wildlife Service or the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. Thanks for reading!**

Sooo…this post is going to be about work. Which I rarely blog about, but last week was a good week, so I’m going to go ahead and share. One of the first projects I became involved with when I started my job here almost two years ago was the reintroduction of bull trout in the Clackamas basin, a little bit southeast of Portland. Bull trout once coexisted in the basin with a suite of native fish species including salmon and steelhead. However, bull trout disappeared from the basin in the 1960s (the last confirmed sighting was in 1963) largely as a result of overfishing and habitat degradation. So, now that many of the issues that caused bull trout to be extirpated have been addressed, the Fish and Wildlife Service, along with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Forest Service, decided that the time was ripe to reintroduce bull trout into the Clackamas to resume its spot in the ecosystem.

Bull trout in the Kootenai River drainage in Montana. Photo by Joel Sartore, National Geographic Stock (used with permission).

The reintroduction project has been in the planning phases since the mid-2000s. Bull trout were listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act in 1999, and reintroducing them to a part of their native range falls under recovery actions planned for this species. Our office provides technical assistance to the regulatory folks, and it was my task to perform the preliminary bioenergetics modeling for bull trout, as well as lead the development of the Monitoring and Evaluation Plan for the project, which is anticipated to continue for up to 20 years (and perhaps beyond that). I am currently the chair of the M&E committee, comprised of biologists from several of the agencies involved in the project. It was a big task to complete the M&E plan, but a necessary one for a couple of reasons.

First, the bull trout population in the Clackamas is an experimental one. The major benefit of having a strong Monitoring and Evaluation program is that we will learn something no matter what happens – we will learn why the reintroduction succeeded or failed. Either way, we will know more about what might work for the recovery of this population as this project progresses, and ultimately for this species elsewhere in its range.

Second, we need to pay close attention to what these bull trout do in the Clackamas because there are other listed species in the basin, such as Chinook, coho and steelhead. In fact, this project has been fairly controversial because of concern for these other listed species, which makes it all the more important that we have a strong M&E program and dot all of our regulatory i’s and cross all of our regulatory t’s. Because bull trout are top predators, where these species overlap in time and space salmon and steelhead may face an increased risk of being eaten by bull trout. Of course, bull trout eat plenty of things other than salmon and steelhead (other fish, insects, etc.). But part of our monitoring program focuses on the interaction of all of these listed species so that project managers can take action if it looks like the impacts from bull trout are greater than anticipated.

Anyway, there’s a bit more to the story, but I’ll cut to the chase. Last week was a big week for us because we finally completed all of the regulatory requirements needed to get fish in the water. About 30 subadult and adult bull trout were collected from the Metolius, implanted with radio tags so we can keep track of their whereabouts, trucked over to the Clackamas, and released in the Big Bottom portion of the upper basin. Yay! There was a fair amount of press there, and it was great to see these beautiful fish swim in waters they hadn’t seen for 50 years. Let’s just hope they stay there! We’ll continue to move juvenils and subadults/adults through July, and our monitoring program will kick in almost immediately.

You can see some of the video footage and pictures that were taken here:

From the Oregonian – http://www.oregonlive.com/environment/index.ssf/2011/06/bull_trout_released_in_upper_c.html

From KGW News Channel 8 – http://www.kgw.com/video/featured-videos/Bull-trout-released-in-Clackamas-River-124829994.html

And here are some pictures I took – enjoy!

There were plenty of people on hand to witness the first bull trout release!
Above, this bull trout was just taken off the transport truck. The cooler was walked down to the banks of the Clackamas and the bull trout swam in the waters of its new home a few moments later.
This was the first bull trout back in the Clackamas! Good luck – we’ll be keeping track of you!

A 2010 Retrospective…Lamenting the Passing of the Best Year Ever!

Happy new year, everyone! It is with great sadness that I say goodbye to 2010, the Best Year Ever. Behold 2010, a year that sidled into my life without presumption or pretense, and now a year that has slipped away like grains of sand through an hourglass…these are the days of our lives…Wait – haven’t I heard that somewhere before? Dang, and I don’t even watch soaps!

But in all *seriousness* (because we all know how Serious I am), 2010 was a fantastic year. I’m left wondering how 2011 could possibly be any better, seeing as how so many crazy-rad things happened in the past 12 months. Like what, you ask? Well, how about the following:

So, can you now understand why I might be sad to say farewell to 2010? Yes? Oh, I know…your response is that 2011 will probably be even better. How is that even possible? Well, I’ll keep you posted on how that works out – be sure to check back soon!

P.S. – Did you notice how I kept last year’s resolution? I totally maintained this blog! I posted way more than in 2009…let’s see if I can keep it up in 2011!

New Digs

I know I’ve totally been slacking on my blog. Sorry! But facebook has been getting a lot of my attention – so if you’re on facebook, you can check me out there. I’ll attempt to catch up a little bit now though, for all you non-facebookers…

First off, before I left for Portland, my friends in Carlsbad threw me an AWESOME going away party. Susan hosted and nearly all my friends made it to the party – there was even a Snow White pinata filled with mini-alcohol beverages, courtesy of Michelle and jeep. And the food was awesome! Everyone chipped in to get me a $170 gift card to Powell’s Books, and I gave everyone an appropriate Non-Performance Award.

The next day several folks helped me with loading the truck. At one point they were convinced that not everything would fit and I almost had to rent a trailer, which I was definitely not looking forward to doing. However, everything was jammed in – not a square foot to spare – and only two things didn’t make it: the cat tree was donated to Sparkles (Michelle’s new kitty), and jeep had to bring up my office chair the following week. It always works out in the end, but I’m thinking that my next move will entail a 17′ truck instead of a 14′ truck. At least.

It took two full days of driving, but Mom and I finally got to Portland. My apartment managers are assholes, but I’m trying to forget about that. I got really lucky in finding my apartment – it’s in the Bretnor Building, constructed in 1912, on NW 20th and Lovejoy – right in the heart of all the cool stuff that happens in Portland. 21st and 23rd have a ton of restaurants and shops, and I’m about 6 blocks from the Pearl District. Everything is within walking distance, too – aside from work, I don’t have to drive my car. I’ve walked to Powell’s Books a few times, and even down to the Saturday Market. And now that I have a bike, it will be even easier.

I had to start my new job at the Columbia River Fisheries Program Office the next week – I wish I had some more time off, but dems de breaks. Gots to make money, you know. The new office is nice – lots of native plants around the building, and one entire wall of my office is windows that look out into a virtual jungle of bushes and trees. I’ve been enjoying watching hummingbirds and chickadees – and a towhee – along with bees and other insects buzzing around. My office seems to have quite the spider population in it, but so far it hasn’t been a problem. Once those little guys grow up though…that’s another story…