Monday, September 29, 2014

International Fly Fishing Film Festival (IF4) at Whiteside Theater

International Fly Fishing Film Festival at Whiteside Theater

Trout Unlimited Bluebacks Volunteers
survey the South Fork Siletz for
Native Steelhead Redds
If you were fortunate enough to squeeze into a packed house at least year's Fly Fishing Film Tour showing at the Whiteside, you already have some idea of what's in store for this year's event on October 11th, featuring international film-makers from all over the globe. This year, the local Bluebacks chapter of Trout Unlimited is bringing the International Fly Fishing Film Festival (or dubbed IF4 for short) to the big screen. The Festival hosts five featured films and a handful of short films starring April Vokey, Camille Egdorf, Frank Moore, Steelhead, Arctic Char and trout from British Columbia to Spain.

The Corvallis screening sponsored by Nectar Creek Honeywine and Ninkasi Brewing will be a charity event for the local Bluebacks Chapter of Trout Unlimited. All proceeds will go towards funding ongoing habitat restoration projects on the Siletz River.
Last year's proceeds from the Whiteside Theater's F3T screening funded a survey on the South Fork of the Siletz River conducted alongside by volunteers with the Bluebacks Chapter. Rewind to 1984, when the Valsetz Dam which blocked access to spawning grounds of Native Steelhead and Salmon populations was removed. Fast forward to present day when Polk County has been considering rebuilding the dam to pull drinking water for residents. The surveys have collected data that show the area of the South Fork above the old dam site is still actively being used as a spawning ground for native anadromous fish, as well as surrounding tributaries that would also be affected by the rebuilding of the dam.

Last year around the same time the BlueBacks organized the FT3 screening, Ted Taylor published an article in the Eugene Weeky about the Soda Springs Dam on the North Umpqua "River Be Dammed" that addressed several common problems with dams that create major obstacles for spawning fish. Water flows and temperatures are altered, impacting sensitive species in the food chain. Migratory fish passage, even with the addition of fish ladders, is reduced or even completely eliminated, affecting the entire ecosystem and its nutrient cycle. Insects birds and mammals are also affected by the kinks in the food chain dams create. Dams not only block access to higher spawning grounds, but affect the spawning grounds downstream by diminishing fresh gravel, woody debris and nutrients. The constriction of spawning habitat hurt recreational and commercial fishing, both in rivers and the ocean.

Last year's survey was a less accurate but very low-budget version of fish counting methods, based on volunteers organized by the Bluebacks and trained by the Oregon Deparment of Fish and Wildlife along with a professional rapid bio assessment conducted by Bio Surveys LLC. While some major river systems are monitored using electronic sonar to track fish passage, the survey used the eyes of contractors and volunteers to spot spawning redds of South Fork Siletz fish. The future of the program will monitor the progress of woody debris habitat restoration conducted by ODFW and funded by the Bluebacks, so buy a ticket and give a smolt a home!

Tickets are $10 in advance or $15 at the door. Advance tickets can be purchased on the IF4 website Cash in your drink tickets for a frosty beverage from the event sponsors in a souvenir pint glass. Doors open at 6:30pm for pre-party socializing, gathering and friend-making. Film starts promptly at 8pm, please remember to turn off your electronic devices. Tight lines...

Published by September 30th, 2014:

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Eradication by Mastication

Each year, some of the top chefs in the Willamette Valley gather their efforts to innovate dishes with a focus on invasive species. The cookout is held as a fundraiser for the Institute of Applied Ecology, which is a non-profit with a mission to conserve native species through habitat restoration, research and education. The event at Zenith Vineyard in Salem begins at 2pm on Sunday, September 28th and ends at 7pm. There will be a live auction fundraiser as well that includes guided outdoor adventures concluded with culinary presentations. The event will host live music by The Celtic Acoustic and Folkadelic Nettles as well as demos on preparing Asian carp and nutria by Chef Philippe Parola. On the menu for the event are hors d'oeuvres by Matt Bennett of Sybaris Bistro in Albany including crawfish-stuffed piquillo peppers, wild turkey terrine with mole spices, dandelion spanakopita, sorrel-smoked salmon puffs and wild boar bratwurst with blackberry mustard. Main dishes from Joshua Green of Bon Appetit at Willamette University include smoked paprika and buttermilk fried bullfrog legs with guajillo adobo sauce, braised boar with bourbon blackberry glaze, among other dishes featuring local ingredients. Amelia Lane and Anna Henricks of Sweetheart Bakery in Portland will provide desserts of double chocolate blackberry swirl tart, chocolate hazelnut pate, mint lemon-balm and rose custard tart, hazelnut huckleberry with wild rosehips jam tart. Wash it all down with Sky-High Brewing's "Berry Invasive Blonde Ale."

You can purchase tickets online from the Eradication by Mastication website. There are discounts for children and groups. The Grand Hotel in Salem is offering special accomodations for guests attending the event and can be reached at (503)540-7800.

This piece was published in the September 25th issue of The Corvallis Advocate:

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

"The Season of Rain is Coming. Hold out Your Hand."

How having not only the right gear, but the right attitude can prepare you for the oncoming seasonal transition towards the end of summer...

The late Greta Wrolstad's poem "Fontaine de Vaucluse" speaks of rivers being released into a parched valley. Droughts along the west coast have dried lakes to record low water levels and shriveled river systems into a series of puddles making it impossible for anadromous fish to travel upstream to spawn. Forest fires have spread smoke miles across surrounding areas unaffected by the flames. It almost seems selfish at this point to mourn the loss of Summer. As the seasons change in the Pacific Northwest, the lack of vitamin D, also known as the "Sunshine Vitamin" changes our moods along with the weather. Rain, although a mild irritation, is a necessary element to our environment. Welcoming, rather than lamenting the transition of sunshine into precipitation is merely a matter of changing your perspective. Replacing your resentment with gratitude will change your attitude.

With the rain, the dust settles. Crispy brown grass that once invited fires to spread and consume everything in it's path like a virus will become lush, green vegetation. The moisture of the soil invites mycelium to spread beneath the layer of debris on the forest floor. The rising river levels push smolts out to sea, and invite adult salmonids upstream to create their next generation.

Fall is the return of football season, jumping into piles of leaves and hoodie weather. It's important for our psychological seasonal transition to be like water, and go with the flow. Pull your rain gear out of the closet and run it through the wash. Have a good pair of boots. Replace your windshield wipers and tires. Make sure the batteries in your headlamp are still good as the days begin to end earlier than you've become accustomed to. Maintain your physiological health with a stash of Vitamin D. Prepare yourself mentally for the challenges of maintaining an active lifestyle and have all the necessary items to prevent yourselves from being discouraged to go outdoors, rain or shine.

This piece was published by The Good Men Project on September 28th, 2014