The End of The Drought

A couple of years ago I had mentioned to Kathy Winters that I had seen a garter snake chasing some fish in a pond that had almost gone dry.  With the long summer drought, the same pond has only a few inches of water left again this year.  In driving by a few days ago, there was another snake in the pond and I could see lots of movement from what I  thought were fish.  I was curious and came back with a bucket of water and a net.  A couple of scoops and these creatures were in the net.  I took a few home and put them in an aquarium.  I took the above photo and grabbed a field guide.  These are larval long toed salamanders.  These are what the garter snake was after.  They are very fast swimmers and could avoid a garter snake.  But as the pond got drier they were becoming more vulnerable.

The photo above is of Allen Canyon creek.  This creek had stopped flowing several weeks ago.  There are a few pools like this and the Coho fry released from the incubator are stranded.  This afternoon, we had two heavy rain showers and they dropped almost an inch of rain.  It may be enough to get the creek flowing again and save these fish.   I may be able to stop watering trees along Gee Creek if it rains just a little more.  Perhaps Autumn is a little early this year.

 

 

N Main Ave Reconstruction

 

North Main Avenue has been closed from Depot Street to the entrance of the Carty Unit of the refuge since  the July  4th  week-end.  The old 10 foot  diameter corrugated  metal culvert has been removed, much material excavated, and a great deal of rock and sand imported.  There  has been  a steady stream of trucks going in and out for several weeks.  By midweek the area for the new culvert had been prepared and trucks began delivering the components to build the footings.  There are 8  pieces, each weighing  55,000 lbs.
The footing pieces for the South side were placed Wednesday and the pieces for the North side were to be placed as well.  However, there  is a problem with the crane and as of Friday evening the crane is sitting quietly and the pieces of the footing are still uninstalled.  The groove running down the middle of the footing will be where the precast arched dome will be set.  The interior pieces of the footing have rebar sticking out of them.  Forms have been built and will be filled with concrete.  This will make for a solid footing.  One of the workers stated the plan is to lower the arched dome next week.  However, this was before the problem with the crane happened.  At 3:30 PM today there were no workers on site.  It’s likely the crane must be repaired before work can be resumed. Since each piece of footing weighs more than 27 tons, it is easy to see why.

Climate Change Revisited

 

The graph above is the latest Monthly graph (May) for 2019.  The peaks for each year are always  in May. As growth begins in the northern hemisphere, it begins to take CO2 out of the atmosphere thus  the dip seen each year.  The increase each year from month to month is due to the burning of fossil fuels.  The difference between May 2019 and May 2018 is 3.6 PPM.  All the months so far in 2019, are above 3.0 PPM, a large increase.  The three biggest carbon emitters in the world are the US, China, and India.  The US increased it’s CO2 emissions in 2018 by 2.5%,  China by 4.7 %, and India by 6.3%.   The world as a whole increased it’s CO2 emissions by 2.7% compared to 2017.  So, the world is increasing emissions of CO2 instead of reducing emissions, reversing a trend the last few years.  The reason is economic growth of all three countries.  China is relying on coal for producing electricity, as is India, even though both are making strides in alternative energy sources.

 

The graph above is of the increase each year of CO2  from 1960 through 2018.  The black bars represent the average for the decade.  It is notable that the first decade averaged less than 1.0 ppm, while the decade beginning in 2000 averaged almost 2.0ppm. As mentioned above, so far in 2019, the monthly averages are over 3 ppm higher than last year.  If that trend continues, then 2019 could be the highest yearly average ever.  2019 will be the last year of the decade.  If the average is 3 ppm, then the decade will average about 2.5 ppm.  So, it’s clear that we are increasing emissions of CO2 rather than decreasing.

GLOBAL AVERAGE TEMPERATURE BY YEAR:  1850 TO 2018

The colorful stripes above represent the temperature of the earth over the past 168years.  Each stripe is one year and the colors from blue to red represent cooler to warmer.   This graph was obtained from a “Show your Stripes” website.  It shows in an elegant manner the rise in temperature of our planet in the last few decades.  The last few decades have been notable for record heat, cold, rain,  drought, hurricanes, and typhoons.  The signature of  a warming world due to an ever increasing amount of CO2 into the atmosphere is strong.

I recently read about the winter that Lewis and Clark and company spent at Fort Clatsop.   They were miserable.  They were tired of eating mostly elk meat.  They must have been dirty and stinky.  They were wet because it rained all the time.  They were happy to break camp in the spring and head up the Columbia River and home.  It was the beginning of the modern age that began with the industrial revolution in England.  The age we’re in now is largely fueled by fossil fuels.  I could think about our explorers in the modern age.  After a day in the field they could come back to, let’s say, a hotel, take a hot shower,  and put on clean clothes.  Then, while drinking a cold beer, Meriwether Lewis could write up a report and e-mail it to Thomas Jefferson.    Then, they could fly back home.  The point is that the modern world is wonderful.  However, we are not paying the social and environmental cost associated with it.  The climate scientists are telling us that we must stop putting CO2 into the atmosphere.  To do that we must stop burning fossil fuels.  Some climate scientists are saying that not only must we stop emitting CO2, but we must begin removing it.   That would be tough.  It will be tough enough just to slow emissions.  CO2 has a long residence time in the atmosphere and the level of CO2 in the atmosphere now will have consequences that last hundreds if not a thousand years.  It is unlikely that we can change our minds in the future and undo the ongoing changes.  The best we can do is to slow the changes down.   However, there is great resistance to doing that and I’m doubtful that we will but there is always hope.  Many people are working  hard to make a difference.

contributed by Paul Snoey

Union Ridge Giants

 

If you walk to Union Ridge School on N 8th Avenue, you will be greeted by some giant Douglas Fir trees at the end of the street.  The largest, to the left in the photo, is 145 feet  tall and is 19 feet in circumference at chest height.  It is the largest of some very big trees here and being among them is a pleasure.  Myrna Mills, a former deputy city clerk for the City of Ridgefield, said that when she was a student at Union Ridge, she and other students planted some of these trees.

The Carnegie Institute of Ecology at Stanford University did a study of carbon uptake in forests.  Their conclusion was that 25% of man made carbon dioxide emissions  are taken up by the world’s forests.  It makes sense to preserve and protect forests and trees.   In the United States, Pacific Northwest forests are the best at removing carbon from the atmosphere.  Douglas firs can live over a thousand years and can rival redwoods and giant Sequoias in size.  In addition to their beauty, trees clean the air, provide cooling, and remove carbon dioxide from the air.

Ridgefield has a lot of trees.  When I am in the Carty Unit near Lake River and look  back into town, there are so many trees I can barely make out the houses.  There are many places in Ridgefield  where more trees can be planted so let’s  do that.

Contributed by Paul Snoey

 

Salmon Incubator Set Up

Contributed by Paul Snoey

The Remote Site Incubator was set up on Riemann Road early last week and on Jan 3rd, 10,000 Coho eggs were placed in a basket on top of the incubator.  As can be seen in the photo below,  the embryos have developed eyes.  They will need a few more weeks before hatching.  After hatching,  they will stay in the incubator for a month or so and when ready, will swim out of the overflow.  They will disperse downstream and spread themselves out along the creek as far as the refuge.  They will stay in Gee Creek for about one year and then head down the Columbia River and into the Pacific Ocean.  Of course, the odds of coming back are very small.

 

 

 

 

 

A little More on Shiny Geranium

The photos  below were  taken in early June of 2017 at the  South bound Gee Creek Rest Stop on I-5.  It is of an area taken over by shiny geranium.  The plants are about 18″ high and  loaded with flowers and seed pods.  It’s incredible ability to produce seeds sets it apart from other geraniums and  other weed species.   Each flower can produce a seed pod containing five spring loaded seeds that can be thrown several yards.  This ability is why it can be such  a problem.  It is on Pioneer street now and North Main Avenue and a few other places around town.  There were six acres on a property north of town that were taken over and I have  worked with the property owner for two years now to eliminate it.  I visited that property today as well as Pioneer Street and a couple of other places and can see that trying to eliminate it has not worked.

 

A New Year’s Surprise

This morning was freezing and foggy.  Frost can make for interesting photographs so I took some photos around town then headed for the refuge.  Frost on leaves and stems makes for interesting highlights in photographs. Getting some fresh air and exercise felt good too.  I took several photos making for the north end of the Oaks to Wetlands Trail.  In looking off the trail, I saw a large patch of green to the side and recognized it as a patch of shiny geraniums.   Then, I found several other patches in the area.  This is not a good thing.  I’ve worked very hard the past two years trying to eliminate it and to keep it out of the watershed.  I’ve found it at the post office and a few other places in town and thought it was under control.   If there is this much in this area, then it must certainly be in other areas of the refuge.

This little geranium can completely cover the ground.  It can smother all the other native plants.  It’s just getting started along this section of the Carty unit but will spread very quickly and will likely take over the entire area.  To eliminate  it will take an extraordinary effort.  The photo below is of an area of small carrot like plants being invaded by a few shiny geraniums.  In a year or two, this area will likely be a dense carpet of geraniums and many of the small native plants will be gone

Contributed by Paul Snoey

 

Winter Solstice Today

 

Winter begins this afternoon at 2;23 PM. It is the shortest daylight day of the year.  Sunrise today was at 7:48 AM and Sunset will be at 4:28PM. For those of us that don’t like the cold, dark, and wet so much, it is good news.  It means that the days will begin to be longer each day.  By the end of January, sunset will be noticeably later; Almost 50 minutes later than now and we should see the first hints that spring is coming.

Contributed by Paul Snoey

Ridgefield Gets Storm Water Grant

 Storm water discharge at the Heron Ridge Bridge  (Oct,  2013)

On Friday, the 7th of December, The Lower Columbia Fish Recovery Board made it’s final listing of Projects for the Clark County Clean Water Fund.  The CCCWF  has $689,120 available for projects this year.  There were seven applications for projects and Ridgefield’s Heron Ridge Storm Water Pond project was ranked the highest of the seven project applications.   The money was able to fund six of the seven projects.

The city was given $150,000 in grant funding  and will match $125,000 in Real Estate Excise Tax.  The city is negotiating with the property owner where the facility will be located and the city has budgeted $60,000 for it’s purchase.  The old town storm water main passes through this property already.   The design of the facility is nearing completion and construction is expected to be finished by the end of October next year

Old Town Ridgefield has approximately 12 acres between Pioneer Street to Division Street and from North fifth Avenue to North Main Avenue.  These blocks drain into a storm water main that discharges into Gee Creek at the Heron Ridge Bridge. This  untreated storm water is the largest source of storm water pollution for the city.  Treating this storm water will improve water quality in Gee Creek, especially during low summer flows when the creek is less able to dilute a sudden discharge.

Last spring, the remote site incubator on Riemann Road put 60,000 Coho Salmon fry  into Gee Creek and there exists a native population of Coastal Cutthroat trout.  The fry of both species have been seen above and below the Heron Ridge area.   Treating storm water before it enters the creek protects these fish from being exposed to a variety of pollutants.

Contributed by Paul Snoey

 

 

 

 

 

A Final Word on I-1531

Tuesday of  this week is  the final day for voting. Many election issues seem very mean spirited and ugly this year.  In any case, it will  soon be over.   Initiative I-1531 was looking good in the polls at the beginning of October. However, the campaign against this initiative has now spent more than 31.5 million dollars and it has been almost all the big oil companies.  They have all those ads on TV and the big glossy mailers telling everyone how unfair it is and how much more we are all going to pay.  The reason big oil is fighting this initiative is because they see it as a threat.

We must stop increasing the levels of CO2 in our atmosphere and in our oceans.  The report issued  On October  by the International Panel On Climate Change  stated that we need to act very soon, within the next 12 years, to avoid some very serious consequences.  The Journal Nature published a new study on October 31 that says  that the amount of heat being put into our oceans is underestimated by as much as 60% and it will be even harder to meet the goals of the Paris Accords.

A comment about what the graph at the top of the page shows:   The level of CO2 is now well over 400 parts/million.  It is increasing at about 5% each decade.  The resident time of CO2 in the atmosphere is a very long time.  Even if we completely stop putting CO2 in the atmosphere, the level of CO2 will stay above 400 PPM for some time.  There is a lag time between adding CO2 into the atmosphere and oceans and its effects.  Thus, we need to act very soon.

One of the arguments against I-1531 is that it will raise rates.  But considering the future costs of not doing anything at all, that does not seem so bad.  If I 1531 turns out to be terrible, something can always be done, including an initiative to repeal it.  If we wait too long with emissions, there will be no repeal.

Contributed by Paul Snoey

Initiative 1631 For Clean Air

 

 

The above graph shows  the monthly averages for CO2 ending in September.  The levels of CO2 are higher than they were 3 million years ago.  The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued a report on October 8th.  It stated that the temperature increase since the industrial revolution is now at 1 degree centigrade and that change is responsible for many of the problems the world is seeing now.  The report  states that with the current increases of green house gases, especially CO2,  we will see a global temperature rise of another 0.5 degrees likely between 2030 and 2052.  The report states that a global warming of 2 degrees has profoundly more negative impacts than 1.5 degrees centigrade.   However, to hold global warming to only another 0.5 degrees will require some very drastic measures in reducing CO2 emissions.  That is, we would not only need to  stop CO2 emissions by 2050, but also possibly begin removing it from the atmosphere.  What the report says is very dire about the future.  In 2015 the Paris Accords was an agreement to limit global warming to 1.5 or 2.0 degrees. Letting CO2 continue  to rise at over 2 parts/million each year could see a temperature increase of 5 degrees Centigrade by 2100 and that would be catastrophic.

William Nordhaus was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economic Science this year.  It was for his work on the economy and climate change.  In 2012 he wrote an editorial entitled “Why The Global Warming Skeptics are wrong” He wrote:  “The cost of waiting fifty years to begin reducing CO2 emissions….. is $4.1 trillion.”   This was written six years ago and the latest economic costs cited by the IPCC are much higher.  In the same article he also wrote:  “The claim that….carbon taxes would be  ruinous or disastrous to our societies does not stand up to serious economic analysis.”

Initiative 1631 is not a carbon tax but a fee on  carbon dioxide generators.  The big oil companies have put in over $20 million to fight it.  There is a lot of money to be made by the fossil fuel industry and they don’t want to give that up.  However, we must get away from putting ever more CO2 into the air.  This fee will be a first in the nation and if passed will encourage other states.  We must do something very soon and I- 1631 is a  small start.   Let’s give it a chance.

Contributed by Paul Snoey

 

European Praying Mantis

 

If you’re a grasshopper this mantis  could be the last thing you see.  An ambush predator, mantises snatch their prey in those spiny forearms, and eat them alive.  European praying mantises are not native to our area but have become quite common.  They likely were introduced to help control pests.  In the past,  Fred Meyer has   sold mantis egg cases  in their garden stores.  Their value for controlling garden pests is questionable.  They disperse  after hatching, are cannibals, and eat good insects such as honey bees.

They hatch in spring, and after several molts become winged adults around the first of September.  Mantises are well known for their cannibalistic tendencies with many articles and nature documentaries showing the female devouring her smaller mate.  It may not be quite like that.  After all, a female mantis must at least have a mate if she is to have offspring and to do that she has to allow a male to climb onto her back.  Mating takes a long time, several hours.

The Nazarene Church across the street from  me used to have floodlights to light up the east side of the building.  The bright lights would attract the newly emerged adult mantises the first week of September.  A few years ago I collected three males and a female from the side of the church.  I put them all in a Styrofoam ice chest.  The next day, when I took off the lid I found all three males on the female’s back.  One was on the center and the other two were off to each side.  No body was eating anybody and they all were quiet.  Later, when I looked again,  one of the males was mating with the female and the other two were still in the chest but no longer with the female.  The virgin female likely puts  out a pheromone that helps males find her.  It may attenuate not only her behavior but that of the males as well.  Suppressing predatory behavior then facilitates successful mating.  After mating, the female can resume her predatory behavior and if the male hangs around too long she may eat him.

I’ve had the female in the above photo for a week or so.  She deposited an egg case on the side of a glass container.  It should contain over 100 eggs or so.  If you look carefully as you walk around Ridgefield, you may find one.  Ones on fences and fence posts are easier to find.  They are about one inch long.   Next spring the young will wriggle out of the egg case and dangle on slender threads as  their bodies harden.  Then, they need to get away from each other.

Contributed by Paul Snoey

 

 

 

Sunday Night Vaux Watch

Vaux swifts continue their evening display of aerial stunts before flying into the chimney for the night at N 8th Avenue and Pioneer Street. In addition to the birds,  a small group of neighbors have been watching them each evening.  As the sun sets a little earlier each night, the birds are also going down the chimney a little earlier as well.  This  evening it was just before 8PM.  Some of us were wondering why they are staying here for so long before migrating southward.  Perhaps they are fattening up for the journey. There are a many insects in the air now so perhaps that’s why.  My neighbors are putting  out a few extra chairs each evening for anyone who wants to watch.

 

Contributed by Paul Snoey

1991 Angels Rest Fire

I took this photo a couple of years or so  after a fire in the Columbia River Gorge had burned the top of Angel’s Rest from a fire that began at Multnomah Falls and then burned west a few miles.  I was very upset when it occurred and when they finally opened the trail to the summit there was nothing but bare ground and dead snags. A year later it was a riot of wildflowers.  In this area,  the ground was covered with red columbine with Columbia lilies sticking up.  In other areas, it was mostly purple penstemons or small yellow sunflowers.  It was a real pleasure to see.  After a few more years, as brush and trees began to grow, the wildflowers were mostly crowded out.   A year ago this week, Angel’s Rest was burned again and this time the fire covered a much larger area, almost 50,000 acres.  Angels Rest is still closed and may open later this year. I wonder how this area and the other areas are going to respond.   Will we see wildflowers and grasses covering and stabilizing these slopes as the gorge begins to heal itself?

Our planet has changed a lot since 1991.  It’s become hotter and stormier.  In addition to the gorge here last year,  there were those terrible fires in California both last year and this year.  There have been terrible fires in Canada, Spain, Portugal, Australia and many other countries in unprecedented sizes and numbers.  Hurricanes and typhoons are becoming larger and more destructive. Think of  hurricanes Katrina, Sandy, Harvey, and Maria. Then, super typhoon Haiyan that devastated the Philippines. We need to make some changes very soon to reduce green house gas emissions.  In November, we can approve Initiative 1631 which is a great start.  More importantly, we need elected leaders that accept and respond to what the scientific community is telling us about the causes of climate change.

~ Contributed by Paul Snoey

 

Vaux Swifts Roosting In Downtown Chimney

 

There are Vaux Swifts roosting in a chimney on the NE corner of N 8th Avenue and Pioneer Street.  The west side of the house has an ornate fireplace and chimney built of exotic stones including several pieces of petrified wood.  It is also the nightly home to a couple hundred Vaux Swifts.  They perform an acrobatic display for several minutes in the sky overhead as these fast flyers swoop and dart about.  Just before sunset, they drop into the chimney for the night. The photo was taken at 7:30 PM this evening.  They will be here for another month or so before migrating to Central and South America for the winter.  The Chapman Elementary School in Portland has the largest number of Vaux swifts in the United States.  Each September, hundreds of people have gathered  to watch them disappear down the school’s chimney.  We have a smaller version of that here.  The fireplace is not being used so the birds can roost without being roasted.

Contributed by Paul Snoey