Klamath Falls Larval Hauls

Another month gone by in Klamath Falls:

To begin with, those of us working within the Sucker Assisted Rearing Program, based here at the Klamath Falls Fish and Wildlife, have been busy collecting sucker larvae for rearing at our Gone Fishing Facility. This entails working a 2am-shift in which plankton nets are used to catch larval suckers as they drift downstream in the wee-hours of the morn. These larvae are small (about the length of a grain of long grain rice, more or less) and mostly transparent. Each plankton net is rigged with a flow meter so that we can get an idea of larval density as they float down the river into the shallow waters of the Upper Klamath Lake. Once the fish are caught, they are then transported to the rearing facility where they will be monitored, fed, and given treatments for disease and parasites. With some TLC, they will grow up big enough to be released into earthen grow-out ponds sometime around July.

In addition to this major component of the internship, there are some other activities that we have been involved in. Working on the rearing facility includes some construction, plumbing, and miscellaneous work. A typical day usually consists of caring for the larvae throughout the day and working on these tasks. Other sucker-related activities have been in the form of surveying for areas to collect eggs from the suckers, working to repair a pit tag array (used to detect movement of tagged suckers downstream), and going out with technicians from Oregon State University to track the radio-tagged suckers that we released last month. All of this has kept us busy.

However, we interns do not spend all of our time only working with the suckers. We have also been out surveying for Oregon spotted frog egg masses in the marshes around the lakes perimeter. This is a fun task that involves trudging through the marsh in waders while keeping your eyes peeled for the egg masses, which can sometimes be difficult to spot.

The past couple of months have passed by at what feels like a very rapid pace. There has been a lot to learn and there have been plenty of opportunities to get our hands dirty and do some real conservation work in the field.

Looking forward to the next few months.

Tyler Rose

CLM Intern

USFWS-KFFWO (Klamath Falls, OR)


Klamath Basin Propagation

Following the birds:

            I left New York nearly a year ago with my eyes set on the West Coast. My destination was the Cosumnes River Preserve (CRP) in Galt, CA. That opportunity was a CLM internship with the Bureau of Land Management. My experience was great. So great, in fact, that I decided to reapply to the program and see if any new/fun opportunities presented themselves.

During my last few semesters of college I began to dabble in fisheries courses. Prior to that, nearly all of my attention and study was focused on plants, because plants are awesome. What I soon found out, however, is that fish are pretty neat creatures too (and I find the fieldwork to be more fun). Some of my experiences at the CRP further reinforced this newfound notion and I began seriously looking into opportunities for fisheries experience.

Now, I am in Klamath Falls, Oregon working with the Fish and Wildlife Service with the main focus on working in their Sucker Assisted Rearing Program alongside another CLM intern. Before hearing about this opportunity, and unlike Galt (which I had never heard of prior to my internship there, although it now has a place in my heart), I had heard of Klamath Falls before. This is perhaps unsurprising for birders or anyone working or interested in the Pacific Flyway. As it turns out, the Klamath Basin is also popular among birds and their enthusiasts. I had, however, never really heard about anything more than that. I wrapped up with some volunteer work at the CRP just a Friday prior to my start here, and as I did so, I realized that like many of the birds that had called the Central Valley home for the winter, I too was soon to be migrating north along the flyway*.

*Whether or not this is a sign of some deep connection with the birds, I cannot say. Although, much like them, I am happy to be escaping the heat of Central Valley summers.

View of Mount Shasta and Part of Klamath Falls

Details of the position so far:

As part of the Endangered Species work here in Klamath Falls, there is an ongoing propagation effort to rear endangered suckers (Lost River and shortnose suckers) as supplements to the existing populations. These populations are battling many factors outlined quite well in the USFWS’s Revised Recovery Plan for both species. For the sake of keeping this post relatively concise (mostly, to save me having to write them all up for you), I am including a link to that plan.

USFWS Revised Recovery Plan (Lost River and shortnose suckers):


Working in this program has already provided a good variety of tasks. On a day-to-day basis, the suckers require tending and some slight monitoring. This means things like checking water temperatures (adjusting if necessary), feeding, salting (when needed to help prevent disease and parasites), and checking for mortality or abnormal behavior (hopefully, unlikely). Being a relatively new project, with a moderate amount of troubleshooting and amending plans for efficacy and to resolve unpredicted errors, there is a fair amount of maintenance/construction required as well.

Once fish are big enough, they are released back to their normal stomping (swimming) grounds (waters). In our first week here, we were able to assist in the release of quite a few fish. This process involves netting fish out of their holding tanks, scanning them for PIT tags, transferring them to the release site, acclimating them to the water at the release site, and then ultimately releasing them. They are then free to face whatever the future has in store for them (hopefully not too much predation or too many harmful algal blooms). A pretty good description of this process can be found at the following link:


When studying any animal it can be important to observe their movements. This can range from daily movements to more broad movements (i.e., migration). This helps folks to better understand when, where, and why a species of interest is utilizing an area. I leave plants out in this regard, because, as I assume we all know, most plant/plant-like things are not moving about in quite the way that animals do. Here at the office, this means that 200 of the reared suckers (~180+ mm in total length) are receiving radio tags.

Now, one doesn’t just put radio tags in fish all willy-nilly. Much like any surgery, there are some things to consider. How big do the fish need to be to receive the tag and be able to function/survive with it? Where will the tag be installed? How do you prevent them from tangling while they recover from surgery and await release? In order to address these questions proactively, staff here at the office organized a trial run to make sure their procedure would work effectively and efficiently. Lucky for us, we were able to sit-in on the operation (and assist with some small details) and it was quite an experience (add fish OR assistant to the resume?)

Our time here would feel unfulfilled if we did not get the opportunity to see some mature adults heading upstream to spawn, so we headed out for a couple of days with Bureau of Reclamation staff to do some monitoring and tagging of suckers at a place called Gerber Reservoir. Using trammel nets, we caught suckers (and some bycatch—perch, crappie, bass, and bullhead). The adult suckers were scanned for PIT tags, inspected for parasites/disease/or injury, measured, sexed, identified, and had a PIT tag inserted (if they were lacking one) before being returned to the water to go on their merry way. To summarize: We caught some big suckers*.

*While uncertain of the origins of this colloquialism, and the extent of its use in rural-American parlance—I like to believe it comes from a long-fought, line and tackle battle with a member of the Catostomidae. For instance, “Holy cow, that’s a big sucker!” Again, whether this is the case, I assuredly cannot say.

Looking forward to another great season.

Tyler Rose
CLM Intern
USFWS-KFFWO (Klamath Falls, OR)

*Any opinions expressed herein are my own.

When it Rains…

There have been days when the sun has shone, ever bright and golden. Days when not a single cloud called the blue sky home. Days it seemed the temperatures could not possibly get any higher and the humidity and lower.

There have been evenings too. Naturally. Evenings when the sound of a cool breeze through the grass and the serenade of a nighttime choir were a nightly occurrence. Even more so, there were evenings it seemed that no “delta breeze” could ever cool the valley.

Those times have since passed. Being far from my northeastern home, it has been difficult to adapt to a climate where days are predictable. Having spent a few years in Syracuse, NY, I had grown accustomed to the chance that it could be sunny and 65, snowing and freezing, and raining torrentially all in a single week.

Summer (and most of Fall) in the Sacramento Valley left me pining for a change in weather from day-to-day. Something other than warm, sunny, and the occasional slight change in how breezy it was. October and November have so far fulfilled my wishes. We finally had our first few good bits of rain, which is a great help for our wetland management program and also rejuvenated my interest in staying here a little while longer. With the changing of seasons, I was fortunate enough to be granted a short extension. Now I will be around until the holidays, providing me an opportunity to gain more experience and to enjoy more time at the preserve with our feathered friends.

Lately, we have been in our last stages of our flood-up schedule. We just have a few more ponds to flood over the coming weeks before Christmas (typically the peak of waterfowl migration in the area). It is exciting to see all the birds utilizing the habitat we have worked so hard to manage. Learning the wetland system has been a truly interesting aspect of my internship. All the ponds are different in their own ways. In that way, managing them becomes a cooperative agreement between the manager and the wetland itself. In only a short time I feel as though I have begun to see and know some of these intricacies.

Living in provided housing on the preserve, I am lucky enough to fall asleep each night listening to the sounds of the birds that we work for. Almost like a “thank you”. They all have such unique calls and I am working to learn them.

My other major objective has been completing the installation of display panels and mounts in our visitor center. I hope that this will be my lasting contribution to the preserve. Something that I can come back to in 20 years and see. I’ll remember the process. How the walls were white and bare. How the first panel to go up was almost experimental and how it required some problem-solving to adjust. I’ll remember the wood ducks on their perch. The massive antlers from a local buck that died of old age. Hopefully, these things will be appreciated by many people to come.

I am looking to make the most of my time over the next few weeks. While I am looking forward to going home, I am beginning to process just how much the preserve and my experience here has meant to me.

One thing I won’t forget is the first rain after months without it. The rain brought me a fresh perspective and newfound appreciation for this place and my experiences here.

-Tyler Rose –

Cosumnes River Preserve


Water Work

Summer has drawn to a close and the focus of my work here at Cosumnes River Preserve has shifted slightly. While I am still involved in a wide variety of tasks from day-to-day, lately my time has been spent working in our wetlands and learning the wetland management system that is used here. With the guidance of our wildlife biologists, I have slowly but surely been learning the ins and outs of providing good habitat for the over-wintering waterfowl that we and the public love to see at the preserve.

As a wetland preserve with numerous ponds, tasks begin with first knowing what ponds need to be flooded up, the date on which they are to be flooded, and any work that needs to be done to the ponds prior to their flooding. Earlier on in the summer I was tasked with collecting GPS data points for the infrastructure of the ponds. This has turned out to be a critical learning opportunity for me because knowing the ponds (their location, design, and infrastructure) is, not surprisingly, absolutely necessary for managing the system.

Once any work has been done (mowing weeds down, moving soil around, treating invasives, etc.–essentially the focus of our work this summer), we then proceed to put boards into our water control structures. These water control structures basically act as mini dams to keep water in or let it out as we deem fit. After checking all of the valves to see if they are in their appropriate state (open/closed) for the task at hand, we turn on our pumps to flood the ponds. This is done much the way irrigated pasture or rice fields are done in the area. In fact, as a preserve with farmers practicing wildlife-friendly agriculture, they use the same system for maintaining their organic rice fields.

Due to an array of factors such as size, depth, valve output, etc., each pond takes a different amount of time to flood up. As a beginner, this would be troublesome. However, I have well-experienced co-workers who have been teaching the system and know very closely how much time it takes to fill these ponds.

Each day I have been going out to monitor the ponds for depth and bird usage to ensure we are providing the habitat we wish to be providing. With only basic familiarity with the waterfowl, this has been extremely helpful for letting me practice my on-the-fly counting skills and my bird ID skills. 

On an quite exciting note, the Sandhill cranes have finally arrived at the preserve. As our “superstar” birds, this is an exciting development and it has definitely increased the amount of visitor we have been receiving. One thing I have learned is that some people really, really love birds.

I have been challenged every day to learn something new and I have been really enjoying the focus of my recent work. With a little over a month left, it is hard to believe that my experience here is almost up. Each day I continue to do my best to get the most out of this great opportunity and am very thankful for it.

Until next time,

Tyler Rose

Cosumnes River Preserve

Sandhill cranes utilizing a managed wetland pond.

More Sandhill cranes