Living and Working with beavers for Salmon
On October 12th, 2023 the Lower Nehalem Watershed Council hosted a presentation w/ Brilyn Brecka, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife North Coast Beaver Conservation Biologist. This presentation by Brilyn Brecka, a beaver biologist for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, discusses how intertwined the lives of beavers and salmon are. For thousands of years, beavers and salmon have co-evolved, creating a relationship between the two species that generate several important benefits to salmon restoration and recovery in coastal systems. Consequently, restoration projects that focus on creating and maintaining beaver and beaver-modified habitats can have a trickle-down effect on salmon populations, not to mention other benefits to both humans and the environment.Brilyn Brecka is the Beaver Conservation Biologist for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife in the North Coast. She earned her bachelor's degree from the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point, majoring in Wildlife Ecology and Management, and she integrates her passions for habitat restoration, ecosystem-based management, and wildlife into her everyday work with beavers in Oregon. In her free time, she enjoys hunting, fishing, hiking, and reading.
Process Based Riverscape Restoration
On April 13th, 2023 the Lower Nehalem Watershed Council hosted a presentation w/ Chris Jordan, Research Fisheries Biologist for NOAA from the Mathematical Biology and Systems Monitoring Program. This presentation defines process-based restoration and why it’s important. The overwhelming majority of riverscapes across the continental US are dramatically impaired due to current or legacy land and water use. The impairment is mostly structural starvation, resulting in high energy channels that are vertically and laterally separated from their floodplains. The impairment is so pervasive that these riverscape conditions are seen as "normal". But, because this shifted baseline sees channels where riverine wetland corridors once ran and continuous forests where successional patches once thrived, our management models maintain, perpetuate, and even restore to this degraded, reduced function state. However, if we expect to achieve the fire resilient, climate change adapted, drought and flood resistant, and protected species recovering riverscapes our management programs claim, we must first accept, allow, and foster the messy, dynamic nature of nature.Dr. Chris Jordan is a Research Fish Biologist with NOAA’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center and Program Manager for the Mathematical Biology and Systems Monitoring Program. Chris has worked on a wide range of biological topics, all with an emphasis on the development or application of quantitative methods. The last two decades, his work has focused on the design and implementation of large-scale monitoring programs to assess freshwater habitat and population status as well as the watershed-scale effect of management actions for anadromous salmonids. Some current projects include the development of life-cycle simulation models to integrate knowledge on physical and biological processes into a management decision support framework and the development of methods for riverscape restoration focusing on beaver and process-based thinking.
Hide and Seek: Environmental DNA for Pacific Lamprey Conservation
On November 10th, 2022 Dr Kellie Carim, Research Ecologist at the Aldo Leopold Wilderness Research Institute, shared her recent work on mapping Pacific Lamprey populations using environmental DNA sampling. Environmental DNA sampling, also known as eDNA, is the process of taking water samples and sequencing the DNA found there to identify what species are using that area of a stream or river. In 2021, Dr Carim, the Lower Nehalem Watershed Council, and other regional partners coordinated to sample for Pacific Lamprey in the Nehalem Basin. All together, they sampled 42 locations within the watershed! Those samples were then processed by Dr Carim in her lab at the Aldo Leopold Wilderness Research Institute. The result is a better map of Pacific Lamprey distribution in the Nehalem Basin. Dr. Kellie Carim is a Research Ecologist at the Aldo Leopold Wilderness Research Institute in Missoula, MT. She received her B.A. in Biology from Carleton College and her Ph.D. in Fish and Wildlife Biology from the University of Montana. Her research combines genetics tools and information, as well as aquatic ecology to inform stewardship of wilderness areas, and to understand the benefits of wilderness to broader landscapes and ecosystems. Her research interests are broad and include engaging diverse partnerships to address conservation and management of aquatic resources. In her spare time, she enjoys cross-country ski racing and spending time outdoors with her partner, Tyler, and her best (canine) friend, Ravi.
Trees to Tap: A Review of Forest Practices and Drinking Water in Oregon
On April 14th, 2022 Jon Souder, OSU’s Forest Watershed Extension Specialist will shared of his new book Tree’s to Tap. This book summarizes the current scientific knowledge regarding the effects of forest management on drinking water. There are 337 public water providers in Oregon that rely on surface water for some, or all, of their supply. Many of these providers do not own their source watersheds and as a result have limited control over activities occurring in their source watersheds. This presentation will look at the ways in which logging, forest road building, herbicide use, and other activities related to growing and harvesting timber can impact the quality and quantity of water sourced from forested watersheds. Jon A. Souder is the principal investigator for the Trees To Tap project. He is an assistant professor in Oregon State University’s Forest Engineering, Resources and Management (FERM) department; forest watershed specialist in the Forestry and Natural Resources Extension program; and the concluding director of the Watersheds Research Cooperative (WRC). He is the former executive director of the Coos Watershed Association in Charleston, Oregon, managing their water quality assessment, restoration and monitoring programs. He has a doctorate and master’s degree in Wildland Resources Science from the University of California, Berkeley and a bachelor’s degree in biology (limnology) from Marlboro College, Vermont.
Marine Heatwaves and their Effects on Coastal Fishes
On May 12th, 2022 Jessica Miller, OSU Professor of Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Sciences, presented a very pertinent issue, Marine Heatwaves. Marine heatwaves are increasing in frequency and intensity around the world. From 2014 to 2016, anomalous atmospheric conditions resulted in the largest known marine heatwave in the northeast Pacific Ocean, and another heatwave occurred in 2019. These extreme ocean warming events impacted all levels of the food web, resulting in reduced condition of many marine species. The abundance of Pacific Cod in the Gulf of Alaska declined by more than 75%, leading to the closure of the fishery and a disaster declaration. Jessica Miller and her colleges are documenting how this heatwave affected the growth and condition of Columbia River Spring Chinook salmon and the growth and phenology – or timing of life history events – of Pacific Cod in the Gulf of Alaska. They combine field studies with laboratory analysis of fish ear stones, which are balance and orientation structures that lay down daily growth rings, to age fish, determine their hatch date, and reconstruct their growth and migratory history. Jessica will provide an overview of what we are learning about how these ecologically and economically important species responded to these extreme ocean temperatures, which are predicted to occur regularly under future climate change scenarios. Jessica Miller is a Professor in Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Sciences at Oregon State University. She is also a member of the Coastal Oregon Marine Experiment Station and leads the Marine and Anadromous Fisheries Ecology Lab in Newport, Oregon. Her research focuses on ecology of marine and anadromous fishes, with an emphasis on how environmental and climate variation affect their growth and survival. She received a BA in Zoology from the University of Montana, a MS in Fisheries from University of Washington, and a PhD in Biology from the University of Oregon.
Chinook Rearing in Nearshore Sandy Habitats
On February 10th, 2022 Dr Jose R Marin Jarrin from the Humbolt State University Department of Fisheries Biology shared his experience and knowledge of nearshore sandy ecosystems as part of the Lower Nehalem Watershed Council’s speaker series. In 2013 he published a paper on the use of sandy beach environments as nurseries for juvenile Chinook salmon. Since then his research has spanned a wide variety of marine biology topics including a chapter in the 2022 book “Sandy Beaches as Endangered Ecosystems” titled “The Biology and Ecology of Sandy Beach Surf Zones.” His research on Chinook use of sandy beach environments explored what role that environment plays in their life history. His research sought to describe that use through field collections, otolith sampling, and comparison of growth between estuarine and sandy beach Chinook juveniles. This is a great story about both the process of science and an opportunity to learn more about what’s happening off shores very much like those here by the mouth of the Nehalem. Dr Jose Marin Jarrin earned his PhD in Fisheries Science at Oregon State University, with a Masters in Marine Biology from University of Oregon, and his Bachelors from the University of Guayaquil in Ecuador. Since 2008 he’s published at least 32 times on marine biology topics!
Restoring Sea Otters to the Oregon Coast
On October 14th, 2021 Bob Bailey from the Elakha Alliance presented on Sea Otters and reintroducing them to Oregon. This conversation covered Sea Otter Ecology, their status as a keystone species, the history of Sea Otters on the coast, and the steps and locations for Sea Otter reintroductions.
Connecting Oregon Lamprey with Oregonians
On November 12th, 2020 the Lower Nehalem Watershed Council hosted Benjamin Clemens, the Statewide Lamprey Coordinator ODFW, for his presentation “Connecting Oregon Lampreys with Oregonians." This is the recording of that presentation.
The Role of Red Alder in the Oregon Coast Range
On January 12th, 2023 the Lower Nehalem Watershed Council will be hosted a presentation w/ Andy Bluhm, OSU’s Associate Program Director of the Hardwood Silviculture Cooperative, who shared insights into a common tree in the Nehalem Watershed, the red alder. This presentation introduced the characteristics of red alder and summarizes the ecological role that red alder plays in the Oregon Coast Range. We looked at how red alder fits into the big picture of PNW ecosystems then examined the red alder’s effect on diversity, site productivity, community resiliency, and ecosystem function. Specific emphasis was placed on the function red alder has in riparian systems and their influence on riparian communities.In addition to a B.S. in Forestry from the University of Minnesota and an M.S. in Forest Ecology/Silviculture from the University of Georgia, Andy has spent the last 20 years at OSU as the Associate Program Director of the Hardwood Silviculture Cooperative- focusing on the biology and management of red alder. Other research projects at OSU have included directing the red alder management program for the OSU College Forests, managing a long-term study on alternative silvicultural practices, installing and measuring a Swiss Needle Cast research plot network, and coordinating the PNW Permanent Sample Plot network. His main duties include everything from education and outreach, data collection to growth and yield modeling and everything in between. In his free time, he enjoys exploring PNW old-growth forests in pursuit of big trees.Andy is an expert on this foundational tree in our watershed and will have a wealth of information to share with us. Hopefully, everyone will walk away from this talk with a new appreciation for Red Alders and the roles they play in the Nehalem.
Past and Present of Small Meadows in the Oregon Coast Range
This is a recording of Braden Elliot's presentation on February 11th, 2021. Braden Elliot did his Masters and PhD research in Oregon Coast Range meadows. This presentation focuses the top down and bottom up factors influencing the persistence of meadow habitats in the Oregon Coast Range over time.
Lower Nehalem Rapid Bioassessment and Limiting Factors Analysis
A Rapid Bio-Assessment Inventory (RBA) for Salmonids was conducted by Bio-Surveys LLC within the Lower Nehalem watershed during the summers of 2018 and 2019. A total of 202.2 stream miles were snorkeled, encompassing all mainstem and tributary habitats exhibiting anadromous potential from the confluence with the Pacific Ocean to the confluence of Humbug Creek (RM 34.7). The intent of this project was to quantify distribution and relative abundance of all salmonid species within the range of anadromy during summer pinch period low flow regimes. Additionally, spawning gravel abundance estimates and anchor site identifications (LFA Lite) were included along with an inventory of thermal refugia within the lower 34.7 miles of the mainstem Nehalem. In this presentation Jeremy reviewed their findings and discussed the watershed's strengths and challenges.This Rapid Bioassessment and Limiting Factors Analysis heavily inform the Lower Nehalem Watershed Council's current priorities in the watershed.
Preparing for Sea Level Rise
On April 8th, 2021 Meg Reed, Coastal Shores Specialist, discussed the expected impacts of sea level rise along the Oregon coast and how the Oregon Coastal Management Program is planning to help communities and partners address these impacts over time. The OCMP is currently in the process of creating guidance for local governments to address sea level rise, to be completed this coming summer, with additional resources to come over the next year and a half. "A certain amount of sea level rise is unavoidable, even if we were to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” says Margaret Treadwell, the Program Coordinator for Friends of Cape Falcon Marine Reserve. “Adapting to sea level rise can feel like an overwhelming problem, so I think it will be very interesting and heartening to hear about the ways that it's being planned for in Oregon and around the world."This talk, was hosted on Zoom and co-sponsored by the Lower Nehalem Watershed Council and the Friends of Cape Falcon Marine Reserve. Meg Reed is the Coastal Shores Specialist for the Oregon Coastal Management Program, administered through the Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development. Based in Newport, Meg provides technical assistance and policy guidance to cities, counties, and state agencies related to land use planning and hazard mitigation for coastal shore processes and geologic hazards. She also co-coordinates the Oregon King Tides Project with Coast Watch. She has been with DLCD for 6 years. Ms. Reed received her Bachelor’s of Science from Roger Williams University in Marine Biology and Environmental Science, and has a Master’s of Science from the University of New Hampshire in the integration of science, policy, and management of coastal resources.
Revisiting the Labor Day Fires of 2020: Were they really unprecedented?
On May 13th, 2021 Dan Donato brought context to 2020s dramatic fire season in which approximately 1.07 million acres were burned in Oregon. Fires on the eastside of the cascades and interior Pacific Northwest are pretty well understood. But on the westside they are much less frequent. Consequently, the drivers of westside fires, their history, their behavior and their ecological impacts are different. This context is critical to understanding local risks and to dispelling the myth that “it can’t happen here”.
Coastal Fire History: The Tillamook Burn, and what you can do to prepare for the fire season
On June 10th, 2021 Aaron Groth shared a presentation on fire risk in Coastal Oregon as part of the Lower Nehalem Watershed Council’s speaker series. The Echo Mountain Fire Complex, the Mapleton Fire, and the Pike Road Fire serve as reminders of the wildfire dangers coastal residents face. This talk will cover coastal Oregon fire history which will provide context and steps you can take to protect your family, home, and property.