The Steamboater Whistle


      Summer 2017

               Volume 56, Issue 4


North Umpqua River, Oregon


Announcements and Club Events
Please Welcome the Following New Members:
G eorgge Grubb, Penn Valley CA

Paul Nagule, Bozeman, MT

David Putnam, Tualatin, OR

Anthony Szlachciuk, Winston , OR

Craig Nielsen, Mount Shasta, CA

Jim Genes, Santa Cruz, CA

Mark Brown, Lagura Niguel, CA

Ed Filice , Sonoma CA

Steven Roberts, Winchester, OR

Senate Bill 1070

Your help is needed to help pass an important climate bill in the coming Oregon legislative session in February 2018. Senate Bill 1070, the Clean Energy Jobs Bill, represents a major step forward in our effort to address the climate crisis. This bill will cap and significantly reduce climate pollution in Oregon. More detailed information about the bill can be found at: 

Please contact your State Senator Floyd Prozanski at: 503-986-1704 or email Urge him to support this bill and to encourage his colleagues to lend their support. Oregon must do its share to fight climate change.

In This Issue


President's Message by Tim Goforth

Hello all Steamboaters and families. To begin with I'd like to say it is a beautiful all day here on the North Umpqua. The Dogwood and Maple trees are in various shades of red and yellow, and the river is a bit high because of last week's rains.
I was elected by your Board members to continue as President of the Steamboaters for the next 2 years.  This year's Board Members are Jeff Dose, Joe Ferguson, Karl Konecny, Dillon Renton, Josh Voynick, and Averi Wratney. These people are all very knowledgeable and actively involved in North Umpqua River watershed issues and their effects on wild steelhead and salmon. We are lucky to have such a diverse board from varied backgrounds and careers.
What a summer! Fires everywhere up down the west side of the Rockies to the Pacific Ocean, and some still continuing.  I am grateful for the good work done by all the agencies and private business' working to contain the North Umpqua Complex fire. As I drive along our river and walk its' banks when fishing, I am reminded how lucky we all are to still have this resource intact.
We live directly across the river from the Fall Creek fire zone, ΒΌ mile as the crow flies.  We have livestock, grass pastures, timberland, as well as structures to take care of in times like that.  We are fortunate to have friends that came and helped me load the livestock into a trailer and deliver them to another friend's ranch close to Roseburg where they kept our animals for 3 weeks. About that time fire crews came and set up additional fire suppression equipment in our front yard along with our own systems.  We keep a good defensible perimeter around our place and they nicely told us what we could do to improve it so they could let some of the crews go where they could help others. Their presence was a big relief.
My heart goes out to those still dealing with fires and hurricanes.
The Fall Creek fire was primarily in the under story, like a gigantic proscribed burn cleaning out brush and dried undergrowth. The burned trunks and brown tree limbs are primarily from heat rising and scorching. Fortunately Fall Creek Fire did not become active in the crowns or reach the nearby private tree plantations.
When people contacted me about the river closure I told them that it was very dangerous on many levels. Trees and rocks were falling into the river and onto the roadway, and smoke inhalation injuries were a real possibility. In addition, fire crews and their equipment needed to be able to access pull outs in order to respond to any movement of the fire to the north side of the river.
Karl Konecny writes an excellent in this Whistle about fire and forests.
Here's hoping you have some time to come enjoy this beautiful river.


North Umpqua Complex Fire by Karl Konecny

Indian summer, my favorite season on the North Umpqua, has arrived.  It was ushered in by a couple inches of rain that also ended a long fire season, effectively putting out the forth thousand acre North Umpqua complex fire that burned in the Calf, Copeland, Dry and Thunder creek watersheds.  The flames may be damped down but the controversy over post-fire forest management is really heating up.

According to some, forty thousand acres of the Umpqua National Forest were destroyed and must be salvaged logged and replanted quickly to end the cycle of extreme fires caused by mismanagement of our public lands.  They advocate for an industrial style management of short rotation plantations and a heavily roaded landscape that allows efficient operations and quick attack in case of fire.
What are the facts on the ground: a post-fire survey indicated five percent of the area was severely burned, 20 percent revealed moderate severity (heavy ground fire and some larger trees scorched), 75 percent experienced a healthy, slow burning ground fire and cleared out over crowded saplings and dense brush and left the mature trees in good shape. Much of the fire burned through old growth forest which has natural fire resilience.  This landscape evolved with fire, periodically clearing excessive undergrowth and allowing the mature trees to thrive.  The small patches that burn intensely are mostly on steep slopes.  The dead trees will eventually fall downslope, providing the large woody debris in the streams critical for fish habitat.

How would a heavily-roaded industrial landscape have fared?  First, recall that our coastal Coho salmon are declared an endangered species.  Their prime fresh water habitat is the low elevation coastal streams that are dominated by industrial plantations.  Converting our national forest to the industrial model would harm the invaluable fish populations of the North Umpqua.  Recent research in the South Umpqua watershed has demonstrated that young plantations consume far more water than mature and old growth forests, dewatering headwater streams.  Dense plantations of young trees cannot survive fire.  The closed canopy carries fire from tree to tree and without the thick bark and large size of mature trees, plantations cannot take the heat.  A dense road network is required for quick attack and to provide fire breaks between stands.

That road network interrupts ground water flow, creates landslide hot spots, and causes silting of streams through ditch runoff.  Roads also prevent large woody debris from entering the streams, material critical for healthy fish habitats.  Trees that fall uphill of a road are not allowed to enter streams, instead are removed to keep roads clear.  Right now, in the Calf and Copeland watersheds post fire hazard trees are being removed along roadways, trees that won't make it into the streams.  Another reason we must push for decommissioning of streamside roads.

The Forest Service has been planning a restoration project in the Calf Copeland watersheds aimed at improving legacy pine health, fire resiliency, and watershed health. The plan proposed fuel treatments on only about three thousand acres.  The North Umpqua complex fire thinned thirty thousand acres of excessive fuel, improving fire resiliency and the health of the mature trees.
Salvage logging, replanting, and converting the old growth forests to plantations would harm these critical watersheds in the North Umpqua drainage.  The voices calling for this type of management are loud and shrill, their message is simple:  fire bad, management good.  We must counter this and spread the truth about the values of this fire.  Fire is a natural force in this environment and must be returned to keep our North Umpqua watershed healthy.


Fish Tick Update by Tim Goforth

Joe Ferguson's article in the Summer 2017 Whistle described the Fish Tick video and software program we've installed in the counting station down inside Winchester Dam. But why did the Steamboaters believe that Fish Tick needed to be installed, what is it, what does it do, and why haven't we seen any data?
Why did the Steamboaters believe that Fish Tick needed to be installed?
As a cost-saving move, ODFW (Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife) in 2015 went from a 100% count of fish passage at Winchester Dam to a more limited count with final numbers extrapolated from 15-year averages.  While the Department has a great deal of confidence in their methods (+/- 10%), after two years we have questioned the results for summer steelhead:
  • In 2015, the temperature and flow conditions were unlike anything in the 15-year period used to establish the baseline; it's unclear how that affected timing but all agree it was a disaster for the summer fish.
  • In 2016, the process yielded an estimated run of nearly 7,000 fish.  Nobody who spends time on the River believes that; there were almost no fish after July 4th.
  • ODFW only counts fish on certain days and at designated1hour time windows on those days. Those numbers are then entered into their extrapolated fish count formula of 15-year averages. The number produced is ODFWs' estimated fish count.
  • The Steamboaters began using the FishTick on July 1, 2017. At that time ODFW tallied 400 Steelhead thru the Winchester Dam fish ladder. From May 1, 2017 to July 19, 2017 the Steelhead count was 2,738.Our question is how can good decisions be made for the aquatic life in the North Umpqua, if there is not accurate 100% baseline data annually?
The current system is slow and outdated; downloads can take more than two hours and are hard to share.  We're hoping FishTick is less costly and more efficient, allowing better accuracy, and later on could also be used at Rock Creek so that hatchery fish could be counted and provide a much better estimate of the hatchery/wild ratio in the spawning population, a critical element in the management plan and for the long-term health of the summer run steelhead.
What is FishTick and what does it do?
The ODFW counting system is a video monitoring system, focused on the observation window. It records video 24/7 even if there a no fish passing thru the ladder.
The person reviewing the video recording only counts fish on certain days and at designated1 hour time windows on those days.  If they were to do a 100% fish count the person would have to watch 24/7 video often times with no fish passing thru the fish ladder. This takes hours per day even on fast-forward and is an expensive personnel cost.
The FishTick video monitoring system is set up alongside the ODFW video monitoring system. FishTick only takes video when fish or aquatic life, such as lamprey, pass by the fish ladder counting window.  For an experienced fisheries person, such as Jeff Dose, a weeks worth of fish video can be watched in about an hour or less. The video is much better quality.
If the Winchester Dam ladder were of better quality FishTick would identify fish by species and record them on an Excel type spreadsheet.
Why haven't we seen any data?
We want to share our findings with ODFW before we release the information to our members. It is not our goal to possibly embarrass or put ODFW on the defensive if our fish count numbers come up significantly different than their extrapolated fish count numbers.
It is our goal to demonstrate an accurate and more efficient method for monitoring fish using the Winchester Dam fish ladder.
We will share our data with you as soon as we share it with ODFW. We are committed to continuing our counting using FishTick for another year.


From the Archives: The Knouse Pool


Fall on the River: Photos by Tim Goforth and Kathy Kreiter

About Us
PO Box 41266
Eugene, Oregon 97404

The mission of the Steamboaters is to preserve, promote, and restore the unique aesthetic values, the natural production of wild fish populations, and the habitat that sustains these fish on the North Umpqua River.

Board of Directors
               Tim Goforth, President               
541 496 0780
Jeff Dose, Vice President
541 673 2665

Karl Konecy, Secretary
Lee Lashway, Treasurer
541 953 4796
Averi Wratney, Board Member

Josh Voynick, Board Member
541 496 0077 
Dillon Renton, Board Member
Chuck Schnautz, Board Member

Associate Directors
Peter Tronquet
      541 261-5041
                                                                       Dick Bauer
541 688 4980
Joe Ferguson
541 747 4917
Dale Greenly
541 863 6213
Pat McRae
541 496 4222
Charles Spooner
541 496 0493

Lenny Volland
541 673 2246

PO Box 41266
Eugene, Oregon 97404

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