Austin and Adina Warner conducted their first complete spawning survey of Fox Creek on Monday, November 8, and turned up one Coho carcass about 150 feet below Burnhams’ driveway bridge.
Bob Burnham had alerted FFC to watch for a pair of spawners he had seen recently on a redd in the pool below the bridge. The carcass is apparently from that spawned-out pair. (Coho is among the species of salmonids that die a few days after spawning.)
Austin said the fish was about 30 inches long and not very decomposed. He was able to collect a scale sample, which could provide information about the individual’s age and whether it was reared in a hatchery.
FFC has launched a thorough program of spawning data collection as part of its monitoring obligation under its large wood placement grant from Oregon’s Restoration & Enhancement Board. This effort will yield baseline data that will be useful in measuring the long-term benefits of the LWP project.
On Saturday, October 30, Darrel Whipple convened interested spawning surveyors at the A Street bridge over Fox Creek for training in survey procedures by Tom Murtagh of Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife’s Clackamas office. Attending were Amy Poulos, FFC’s education coordinator, and Austin and Adina Warner, students in biology at Lower Columbia College under Dr. Louis LaPierre of the biology department.
The Warners will walk the creek from the mouth to the falls or the dam every 7-10 days during November through February to record species and numbers of fish — live or dead — and redds (nests) observed on the stream bottom. Amy and other FFC volunteers will fill in when the Warners can’t make it. The Warners will receive a stipend through LCC in cooperation with the OSU Extension Office in St. Helens.
Friends of Fox Creek sold coffee, cocoa and cider drinks and FFC apparel to Halloween celebrants who attended the First Annual Rainier Pumpkin Festival, held in Riverfront Park on Sunday, October 31st.
The event was sponsored by the Rainier Chamber of Commerce and organized by its newly-installed secretary Amanda Younger. Attendees enjoyed live music, food booths, various Halloween-related activities, a trip to a haunted house and a hay ride.
Volunteers contributing labor, money or materials to support FFC’s presence at the event were: the Burnhams — Bob, Sheri, Haley, Tristin, and Brooke; Kevin and Amy Poulos; John and Kathy Byrd; and Darrel Whipple.
The night-time roosting of hundreds of Vaux’s swifts in a non-functional chimney at Carpet One in Rainier was documented this fall by volunteer observers from Friends of Fox Creek and Willapa Hills Audubon Society.
The swifts’ regular appearance here in May and September during migration to and from their breeding areas in the Northwest had been known by residents for years, but this was the first attempt to count the birds for scientific population studies. Rainier’s data adds to observations by volunteers and scientists at dozens of other sites from British Columbia to southern California.
After Margaret Magruder and Bob Burnham remarked with amazement upon seeing hundreds of swifts pour into Carpet one’s chimney across Highway 30 from the City Hall at dusk on September 7th FFC’s volunteer coordinator Darrel Whipple, a long-time birdwatcher himself, recruited other observers and conducted four formal counts.
Roosting swifts numbered 1,830 on September 8th, the apparent high point of the migration “wave” as it passed through Rainier heading south over an estimated three-week period. The other dates and numbers were: September 11 — 1,342 swifts; September 12 — 795 swifts; September 18 — 1,315 swifts.
Observers sat on the grass outside City Hall for about an hour with binoculars, scopes and cameras to record the spectacle on the appointed sampling dates. Volunteers from FFC were Darrel Whipple, Paul Horton and Barbara Horton. Participants from Willapa Hills Audubon Society were Bob and Pat Reistroffer and Russ and Ann Kastberg.
Friends of Fox Creek partnered with SOLV, the City of Rainier and Boy Scout Troop 332 to clean up trash on September 25th in the city watershed where remnants of decades-old illegal dumping had surfaced along Fox Creek.
Volunteers Bob Burnham, Darrel Whipple, Ted Heacock and Brandon Heacock removed 138 pounds of miscellaneous trash and 800 pounds of recyclable metal. These materials were found in the lower portion of the Large Wood Placement Project area that was improved for fish habitat the same month under a grant to FFC by ODFW’s Restoration & Enhancement Board.
The crew also cut or pulled eight English holly trees and cleared English ivy from one Douglas fir near the creek. SOLV provided a grant of $100 that enabled FFC to pay most of the price of a “weed wrench,” useful in uprooting holly, Scotch broom and other invasive plants. The tool came in handy on September 25th, according to FFC President Bob Burnham, and will be used in future projects.
The Large Wood Placement Project on Fox Creek was constructed on schedule in September by Aquatic Contracting of Portland, Oregon, which secured logs and root wads to strategic points on the creek where pools will form and gravel will collect for fish habitat and nesting sites.
The project was funded by a $46,000 grant from the ODFW Restoration and Enhancement Board, which in turn gets its funding from sales of sport and commercial fishing licenses. Friends of Fox Creek will be involved in monitoring water quality and fish and insect presence during the next three years to help determine the benefits of the project as the new “structure” in the stream modifies the stream bed.
More information about this project is found in an earlier article on the “Restoration Projects” page.