About Paul Snoey

I have a degree in Biology and Environmental Science from WSU Vancouver
I am very fond of Gee Creek and Allen Canyon Creek and do a lot of volunteer work to restore these creeks.

A Record High Daily Covid Count – USA



The above graph is from Worldometer’ s dashboard for Covid 19. For the first time, it shows cases for the US as being above 70 thousand/day.   The number is higher than John Hopkin’s dashboard and Wikipedia’s  .  However. the sources all show that Friday, July 10th  was the highest single day ever.  Many states, especially in the south,  are at crisis levels now.  

The US failed to get this disease under control when it had the chance back in March and April when other countries did.  We are going to pay a heavy price for that with many epidemiologists saying it is going to get worse.

As individuals, our responsibility is to protect ourselves and others as best we can.  Wearing a mask,  practicing  safe distancing,  and other recommended means need to be followed.  It may be a while before things get better.

By Paul Snoey

Real Time rtPCR Test to Detect Covid 19 Disease

Covid 19 disease is caused by a virus named SARS-COV-2. The test to detect it is called Real Time Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction(Real time rtPCR}. PCR was concieved by a California surfer named Kary Mullis and he was awarded the nobel prize for that. PCR is a way of making copies of DNA. If a double standed helix of DNA is heated it will separate into two single strands. After cooling, and if there are complementary bases in solution, a enzyme called  DNA polymerase rebuilds the strands into the double strands. So,each cycle in PCR doubles the amount of DNA. 10 cycles will create about 1000 copies and 20 cycles will make over 1,000,000 copies. Heating the copies destroys the original polymerase so each cooling cycle had to have fresh enzyme added. Then, it was discovered that the polymerase in a hot spring bacteria called Thermophilus aquatica did not denature. Using that meant the test could be done faster because it did not have to be paused to add the polymerase enzyme in each cycle.
The virus that causes covid 19 is not DNA based.  Rather,  it is single stranded RNA. To run it on a PCR machine it must be converted into DNA. So another enzyme called reverse transcriptase must be used used to covert it into DNA.
PCR only copies DNA. The test was called rtPCR.  To ID the DNA, another test must be done and that test was called gel electrophoresis.   In gel electrophoresis the amplified  DNA is placed in a gel cell and an electric current is applied.  This causes sections of the DNA to migrate.  Then, it can be compared to a known DNA.  It took much longer to do these tests and had more errors.
A new technique was developed that was faster and more accurate, It could also not only ID the virus early on, it could quantify it. This test is called Real Time rtPCR, It is a sophisticated test using probes and fluorescent markers to look for sections on the RNA strand that are unique to the virus.  Early in the test,  the virus can be identified and even quantified.  It can tell how many copies of RNA were in the sample taken from the patient.  It can not only ID the virus, it can give an idea of the load of virus the patient has and how much the patient is putting into the environment.  Real time means that one can look at the ongoing test in real time rather than waiting for the PCR and electrophoresis to be completed.

On December 31st, the Chinese government reported to the World Health Organization that there was a pneumonia in patients in Wuhan China of unknown origin.  A few days later it had been sequenced and identified as a novel(new) corona virus.  The virus and it’s disease quickly spread in  China.   A Real Time rtPCR test was developed to ID the virus.

In the US,  the CDC developed it’s own test for the virus but used different sections on the viral strand to ID the virus.  The test kits the CDC sent out for running the tests were faulty and that was a problem that had to be corrected.  Also,  there were few labs approved that could do the tests.  Another problem was  that  the CDC requirements for who could be tested was too narrow.  The patient had to show symptoms and a history of contact  to someone from China.

Since then,  more labs can do the test and there are fewer restrictions on who gets tested.  A company called Roche has a machine and test procedure that is very fast and can run many  tests and that has been approved.  Because the US is behind on testing there could be many  more cases out there and  the virus could be more widespread.  Catching up on testing is imperative.  It needs to be done along with all the other things being done in a situation that is getting worse here and much of the rest of the world.

by Paul Snoey

 

Shiny Geranium: A Little Green Tsunami

Shiny Geranium on Smythe Road

Shiny Geranium is new to Ridgefield and Clark County.  It was listed as a class A weed by the state of Washington Department of Agriculture in 2009 and then a class B in 2015.  Class A lists are mandatory removal and Class B leave it up to the county.  King county requires removal but Clark County does not.

I had never heard of this little geranium before 2015.  I noticed a pretty little weed in the parking lot at the post office but didn’t know what it was.  Later, in October of that year, I found that it had turned a couple acres  green on some property north of Ridgefield.  Then it was found on Pioneer, mostly on the right of way from  S 9th Avenue to the junction.  Since it only seemed to be in a few places I thought it might be possible to control it and prevent it’s spread.  I’ve worked very hard to eliminate it, putting in hundreds of hours.  Last year, I put in several hours/week on six acres north of town.  Since it is an annual and the seeds germinate after the first fall rains, the strategy was to prevent it from going to seed.  It was a shock to see how much germination there was.  I would treat an area and a few weeks later would find many new plants.

Shiny geranium is rapidly spreading in the Carty Unit

There  is a lot of it in the Carty Unit of the refuge.   This fall I found it on Smythe Road. There are patches on Bertsinger Rd and on Carty Road.  It is well established on both sides of the road south of the Elani Casino.  I thought I could keep it away from Allen Canyon Creek but this fall I found it a few feet away from the stream.  Saturday afternoon, I went for a walk and took a short cut above Abrams Park through the Frisbee golf course.   In an open area there was a patch of this geranium that covered several hundred square feet and there was another patch further away.

Shiny geranium on Frisbee golf course at Abrams Park

I’ve decided to give up on it as it is just overwhelming.  The property owner north of town spent over $1000 on herbicides recommended by Clark County Weed Management.  We both worked very hard the past three to four years.  It has been reduced and grass was planted in areas we have cleared.  To maintain control  however,  would take too much work each year.

This weed is spreading quickly and will be a threat to the few natural areas we have left.  It will likely thrive in the Carty Unit and would take an extraordinary effort to contain it.  There are 4 or 5 introduced geraniums in Ridgefield and one or more is likely on almost everyone’s property.  Where these geraniums are, likely in a few years, shiny geranium will be there too.  It is different from other geraniums in that it forms a thick dense carpet that prevents other plants from growing.

According to a weed management agency in Victoria BC, it hybridizes with the other geraniums.  That will make it interesting.  There is quite a bit of it in the north parking lot of the post office if you want to see it.

By Paul Snoey

Ribbon Cutting for North Main Avenue

On Friday the 14th, Officials and interested citizens gathered at Overlook Park.  They were there to begin a one mile walk to the entrance of the Carty Unit of the refuge.  There were about sixty people who made the walk.  The purpose was to celebrate the completion of the improvements to North Main Avenue with a ribbon cutting.

At the entrance to the refuge, The Mayor of Ridgefield, The refuge project leader, and a spokesperson from the Federal Highway Administration made comments about the project.  Then, several children were each given a pair of scissors and the ribbon was cut.  This project was to improve access to the refuge, especially for pedestrians.  There is also a new entrance to the refuge through the port and a trail from there will take hikers along the west side of Carty Lake and join the Oaks to Wetlands trail near the Cathlapotle plank house. This will make for a loop  of a little more than five miles.  The trail by Carty Lake is closed now but may be open in a few weeks.

By Paul Snoey

Building The Arched Culvert on N Main Avenue

The rebuilding of North Main Avenue brought many improvements to the city’s northern arterial street.  Adding two new culverts and raising the street to over 10 feet higher will  put the road and  at least one driveway  above the floods for both Gee Creek and the Columbia River.  There is a wide sidewalk that will get pedestrians and joggers out of the street.  New guard rails on both sides  should prevent vehicles from going off the road.  Of all the events, putting the arched culvert together was the most interesting

The arched culvert pieces were assembled on August 22nd of last year.  There were 24 pieces that made for 12 arches.  Since the arches had to support each other, the two halves had to be placed in the footings simultaneously.  To do that, two giant mobile  cranes were used.  Each half culvert section weighed 77 tons.  The work had to be carefully coordinated to protect the machinery, the concrete arches, and the workers.  It was fun to watch.  It was Legos, Tinker Toys, and Tonka Toys for big boys and girls.  Below are some of the photos I took on that day.

The heavy pieces of culvert had to be picked off the truck bed, attached to cable rigging, and swung into place. There was a queue of trucks entering and leaving from opposite sides all day long.  It meant 24 trucks each carrying one half section of culvert.

To move the sections into position, each piece had  several points of connection using cables, chains, and pulleys.  At the top of each section, facing the camera, are holes into which rebar will be placed.

Even though the pieces were quite large, they needed to be placed in exactly the right place in the footings.  It meant careful coordination with the two crane operators with the men in the lift helping to guide the process.  Since the two pieces would come to rest on each other, they had to be placed at the same time.

As the day progressed, the final pieces of the culvert were placed.  Note the array of chains, pulleys, and cables.   Looking at the back of the crane, there can be seen a stack of very heavy weights which counterbalanced the cranes.  It was easy  to see how skillfully the assembly was done.

The sections of the culvert were all put in place on August 22, but there still  was much work to be done.

Paul Snoey

North Main Avenue is Open

The barricades at the refuge and at Depot Street were removed late this afternoon and traffic has begun to move through the area. This street has been closed since the July 4th week-end. The new sidewalk was poured yesterday and is covered by a plastic sheet so pedestrians will have wait a little bit while the concrete cures.  Below is a photo of the first day of the project as the contractor began mobilizing. Quite a difference!

Paving on N Main Avenue

 

Paving was done on N Main Avenue today and appears to be almost complete. On the west side, forms have been placed for the sidewalk, which has yet to be poured.  There still remains guard rails to be placed on both sides.  There has been an 8″ water main installed in the street ending with a hydrant at the entrance to the refuge.  Under the future sidewalk, there is a two inch sewer force-main that will carry sewage from the refuge into town.  The completion date is still scheduled for December 31st.

Looking to the north behind the two workers, the end of a new 10′ culvert can be seen.  This culvert carries a tributary of Gee Creek that used to drain into Gee Creek on the east side.  The improvement created an opportunity for a salmon incubator and I asked the state to consider it.  Yesterday, the state granted permission for a remote site incubator to be installed on property owned by Raul and Claudia Moreno.  The Lewis River Hatchery has committed 5,000 Coho eggs for early January.  This incubator will be part of an educational program with the State Department of Fish and Wildlife and likely students from Union Ridge will be visiting.

Wednesday afternoon update:  Crews were installing a guard rail on the east side today and finishing paving on the North end.  There was a lot of crew members on site today working in several different places along the project.  Heavy rain is predicted beginning tomorrow and the National Weather Service has issued a flood watch for Thursday evening through Sunday morning.  The original culvert under N Main was only 10 feet in diameter and tended to back up during a heavy rain event.  If we do have heavy rain, it will be interesting to see the difference the new culvert makes.

Contributed by Paul Snoey

Progress on North Main Avenue

North Main Avenue is nearing having it’s final grade with many truckloads brought in the past few weeks.  When completed, the pavement will be more than ten feet higher than the old roadbed, placing this street well above any past flood levels.  There still needs to be a 2 inch pressure sewer installed in the street which will provide sewage from the wildlife refuge.  One of the employees of the contractor said that they may get curbs installed this week and possibly paving  done before Thanksgiving.   However, he said it would be more likely the first week of December.

We’re all looking forward to the completion of this project which began  after July 4th week-end.

PAUL’S POWER WAGON

I have a DR Field and Brush Mower that I use to cut brush along the creek to make room to plant trees.  Planting trees requires moving tools,  sand and dirt, and the trees themselves.  Trees in pots can be heavy as are all the tools for planting them.  Wheelbarrows are hard work, especially carrying a load up and down a steep hill or over rough terrain.  My machine can take several attachments such as a snow blower or a wood chipper.  They don’t make a wagon attachment but will sell you one with the power unit built in for as much as $2500 or more.

So, I asked Tevis Laspa for help in making a wagon that could be attached to the power unit, and he responded that it sounded like a fun project.  I found a pair of wheels on casters and that a 1.25″ steel pipe would connect the wagon to the power unit.  After making a prototype out of a piece of siding, Tevis and I discussed how to make the unit.  It was made of welded rectangular steel tube stock with the casters and pipe welded to the frame.  When I came home this morning I saw Tevis had delivered it.  I took it for a test drive down the trail at Union Ridge and back home via N 5th Ave.     Tevis showed ingenuity in  putting the connecting pipe though the steel stock.  It makes for a very sturdy connection.

Thank you so much Tevis.  It’s just in time as trees can be planted soon.

Contributed by Paul Snoey

VETERAN’S DAY SUNSHINE

The National Weather Service promised that an east wind would scour out the low clouds and fog today.  But this morning was very foggy.  Drops of condensation formed on a spider web on my porch.  Would it be like this all day?  However, an hour later the fog and low clouds disappeared and the sun came out.

The early morning sun lit up N Main Ave  from North of the Liberty Theatre

North Main Avenue from south of Pioneer

The setting sun lit up Pioneer street nicely.  It was a glorious day to celebrate Veteran’s Day.

 

 

 

 

October Sunset

The sunset last evening was beautiful.  Sunrises and sunsets all week have been great.  Yesterday driving out of Abrams Park it was dark.  Up the hill  there was a blaze of light as the sun lit up the big leaf maples.  It was worth taking a photograph.

At the Hidden Village subdivision North of Depot street, there are few evergreen trees.  Rather, there are oak, ash, cottonwood,big leaf maple, vine maple, and the only Pacific dogwood in this section of creek.  Native trees here don’t have the brilliant reds and oranges like the Northeast but still are  a bright contrast to the green just a few weeks ago

The row of street trees on Simons seen from the post office are bright red this time of year, but the setting sun made them even more brilliant.  We have only a few more weeks left to enjoy the fall colors, then all these leaves will be on the ground.  Soon,we will see those gray damp days and not see much sunshine.  It does look that the weather should be nice through the end of the month.  The national weather service predicts a slightly warmer fall and winter. Since there is no longer an El Nino(dry) or a La Nina(wet), the NWS  has no real prediction about how much rain we get this fall and winter.

contributed by Paul Snoey

 

North Main Culvert Project

This photo was taken Saturday morning downstream from the new N Main culvert.  I had hiked down thru the woods below HiddenVillage to get this view.  On Friday, I had also hiked down and saw that the work area was fairly dry.  Above that, the earthen dam was intact and the large pump was able to keep up with the flow from two days of moderate rain.  Crews were busy on the stream bank above and below the culvert.  They were laying down fabric and doing stream bank restoration.   Early Saturday  morning beginning at about 2 AM, we had a few hours of very hard rain.  For  three days, we had a rain total of about two inches ending Saturday morning.  When I checked the staff gauge in Abrams  Park it showed a flow of more than 150,000 gallons/minute, much more than any pump could handle.  Looking through the culvert,  you can see the remnants of the earthen dam that was washed away early Saturday.  It meant that all the yards of dirt that made the dam were washed downstream.  On Monday, the hoses that had pumped the streamflow past the site were removed.   The project was close to the point that the flow could have been restored, so that makes sense.   However, it needed to be done in a way that prevented sediment from entering the stream.

This morning I noticed the electric signboard on 289th Street said the detour  would last until December 31st.  The original time was October 3rd,then Oct 16th, then November 29th, and now New Year’s Eve.

There has been a great deal of silence about this project.  There has been a lot about this project that needs to be explained in some official capacity.   Clearly, things have not gone as originally scheduled.  The delay interferes with emergency responders, the ability of people to commute, and others things such as school bus routing.  Who is paying for the extra costs, why the long delay, and who is responsible?

Contributed by Paul Snoey

Old Town Storm Water to Get Treatment Facility

Most of the blocks from Pioneer Street to Division Street and from North 5th Avenue to North Main Avenue discharge directly into Gee Creek by the Heron Ridge Street Bridge. It is the largest source of storm water pollution in old town Ridgefield.. The City of Ridgefield applied for a Clark County Clean Water Fund Grant administered by the Lower Columbia Fish Recovery Board. It was ranked number one for funding. The engineering was completed earlier this year, went out to bid, and the City Council awarded the contract to Odyssey Construction.

The project is between Maple Street and Heron Ridge Drive just east of North 3rd Avenue. The project is well into construction with a construction completion date at the end of October. It will provide treatment for low storm water flows with an overflow provision for high level flows.  This project will improve water quality of storm water into Gee Creek, especially during times of low summer flows.

The city of Ridgefield is to be commended for this improvement.  It will make a difference.

Contributed by Paul Snoey

North Main Avenue Project

This afternoon I went to the site to see the progress of the culvert  project. The sections of the wing-wall are sitting on the road on the south side. The wing-wall on the Northeast corner of the culvert has been partially done but nothing on the other corners. There is a tributary that came into the creek on the east side and the project will switch it to the west side. To do that, another culvert needs to be installed. It will be a ten foot  wide corrugated metal culvert and there are six twenty-foot sections by the staging area. The new road and pedestrian trail must be built and paved. No doubt this project will not be built by BirdFest on October 5th. It may be several weeks before this project is complete. The project website has no information about a change in scheduling and has not been updated since September 13th.

(Monday morning update:  The completion date is now Friday, November 29th.)

contributed by Paul Snoey

Allen Canyon Creek Flow Restored

A couple of weeks ago I showed a photo of this area  on Allen Canyon Creek.  The creek had stopped flowing and there was just a small pool with some Coho fry that were trapped.  We’ve had about 4 inches of rain since  September 8th.  I’ve never seen this high a flow so early in the year.  We have not had enough rain to saturate the ground enough to create runoff so the creek will drop pretty fast but probably will have some flow through the end of the year.  It’s interesting that the Coho fry stay in the pool just below the fern on the right bank.   They are free to go anywhere but seem to like their home pool.  This morning I dropped some gold fish food and let it float downstream.  With in  a few seconds the fry eagerly ate it. It is a good way to know if they are still there.  Notice how clear the flow is after such a heavy rain.  Water quality is excellent on Allen Canyon Creek.  However, for much of the summer, there is no flow.  The water is there but trapped behind dams to hold water for stock ponds and in storm water detention ponds.

The Lower Columbia Estuary Partnership is accepting grant applications  for stream rehabilitation projects that facilitate fish recovery.  Private individuals  can’t apply but the City of Ridgefield can. If there was a study that looked at those places on Allen Canyon Creek where water is held it may be possible to modify them to release water in times of need.   Allen Canyon Creek could become a stream that could carry a much better population of Coho Salmon and possibly cutthroat trout as well.  How about it City?  Could you consider applying for a grant to improve stream flow on Allen Canyon Creek?

Contributed by Paul Snoey