Making Headlines in August

A highlight of this month was working with the Fish & Wildlife and KIC (Ketchikan Indian Community) crews on restoring salmon habitat to streams at Last Chance campsite. Before we started this project the stream looked like a bowling alley, the water was flowing straight down and starting to erode the bank into the nearby campground. When a stream is flowing like this, there’s no pools or pockets for fish habitat or breeding grounds. We spent the week digging trenches along the creek, then pulled downed trees into the trenches, and covered them with rocks. After a week of manual labor, the stream ended up with more S curves, waterfall features, and pools. We even made the front page of Ketchikan Times! The seeds we are collecting this season will be used on projects like this in the future to restore vegetation to the stream banks.

The rest of the workdays of August were dedicated to collecting and cleaning seeds. On August 28th we were able to send off 7 out of our 8 completed seed collections. The 7 collections that were shipped on August 28 were Vaccinium ovalifolium (Blueberry), Chamerion angustifolium (Fireweed), Ribes bracteosum (Stink Currant), Oplopanax horridus (Devil’s Club), Aruncus dioicus (Goatsbeard), Hercaleum maximum (Cow Parsnip), Gualtheria shallon (Salal). Our 8th collection will be Spirea splendens (Rosie spirea), which we aim to ship out in the next two weeks, hopefully along with Scirpus microcarpus (Panicled Bulrush), and Carex aquatilis (Water Sedge).

Some other noteworthy things happened this month. I stumbled upon a tree covered in “Chicken of the Woods.” Sautéed with salt, pepper, and butter they truly taste just like chicken! The less appetizing photo on the right features some dead salmon. Several species of salmon have almost concluded their runs back to the lakes and streams they were born in. Once they make it back to the lake they lay their eggs or spread their sperm. After such a dangerous and exhausting journey they can rest easy and rot away in bliss knowing they’ve completed their life cycle. Ward Lake in Ketchikan is very pungent and getting harder to visit, but seeing the lake fill up with salmon is a reminder on just how extraordinary nature’s processes can be!

Finally, the top highlight of the month was hiking the Deer Mountain Traverse. Last Saturday afternoon Neave and I sent it up the Deer Mountain trail head right in the center of town and at 4pm on Sunday we reached the parking lot at the base of Mahoney Mountain on the far south side of Revilla Island. The ~18~ mile hike through the alpine, past many lakes, and over several peaks was a once in a lifetime hike. Absolutely beautiful landscapes and perfect weather. It was a great way to cap off an awesome month!