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Archive: 2021
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  • October

    That sounds fishy: demonized trash fish finally gets some respect

    Leaves are changing, the weather is cooling and getting wetter, and Fred Meyer is stocking its shelves with Christmas decorations, which means it’s October. Instead of skipping ahead to winter holidays, let’s fall back and celebrate autumn and Halloween by highlighting a fish that has been demonized in the past, partly for its looks, and partly for our past perceptions of it as a blood-sucking, bottom-feeding trash fish*: the Pacific lamprey.
  • September

    Mother Nature can be comforting but has scolded (scalded) us this year

    Mother Nature can be comforting and calm but this year it seems like she used our first, middle and last name as she scolded (or scalded) us … “Pacific North [emphasis added] West, what in the world were you thinking?!” … for punching our hypothetical little sister (California). Our punishment has been drought, record-breaking temperatures, wildfires and extremely dry conditions throughout the region. Even though the early part of this summer was a scorching hot nightmare, north western Oregon is fortunate to have a consistent flow of water – thanks to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ system of dams and reservoirs in the Willamette Valley.
  • July

    That sounds fishy: fish ladders at high-head dams impractical, largely unneeded

    Humans. What other sentient being designs a tool requiring hands and feet and expects animals without limbs to use it? Alas, the answer is humans. Humans created a ladder for fish, which is quite effective in certain situations – but isn’t a blanket solution to every fish passage problem. And while most humans would agree that ladders can be useful for climbing short distances, perhaps 20-50 feet– another tool – like an elevator or truck – may be a better option to climb hundreds of feet. Otherwise, there would need to be more infrastructure to support that ladder, or perhaps it would need to be a staircase at that point. This is similar for fish when moving them up and downstream.
  • June

    Big Bertha heads to Benson Beach, battles erosion

    Off the coast of Oregon, Big Bertha moves in the water, inching toward land. Bertha, as her government creators to refer to it, is the result of three years of inter-agency planning. Her architects; some of whom work for the Portland District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; conscripted half of Portland District’s dredge fleet to scrape the river bottom and collect what was to become Bertha: a migrating mound of sand.
  • That sounds fishy: twisting traps troll tributaries in the Willamette

    The bulky contraptions float listlessly downstream of three dams in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. The buoyant, metal devices hold large screws that the water flow turns. This twist of the screw – creating a creaking, rasping, scraping sound – generates enough hydraulics to keep small fish from escaping the slowly spinning, cone-shaped collectors – or, screw traps.
  • May

    'I had to be true to myself'

    "When I said no and that I was going to college, it broke her heart,” says Gentilcore. “She thought that I was always going to take over the family business.” Gentilcore left for college anyway. For her, the choice wasn’t about what others expected. It was about finding happiness.