Tillamook Bay Watershed Council Speaker, The Life In the River, May 30th

The Tillamook Bay Watershed Council is pleased to announce the next installment in its 2017 Speaker Series featuring local ODFW Research Biologist Derek Wiley. Join us on May 30th at the Tillamook County Library for an in-depth update on salmon, steelhead and trout populations in the rivers of Tillamook County. Derek will share data collected by his Life Cycle Monitoring crew, as well as a compilation of amazing videos capturing underwater behavior of juvenile and adult chum salmon, Chinook salmon, coho salmon, steelhead, and Pacific lamprey in our local rivers. The Council’s regular monthly business meeting will follow the presentation, including updates on habitat restoration efforts in the Tillamook Bay watershed. Doors will open at 6:00PM and the presentation will begin at 6:30PM. This event is FREE and open to the public!

 At the TBWC’s last meeting on April 25th Tillamook High School students shared a number of science projects relating to watershed health. The presentations  were scientifically impressive, many of them pointed to potential improvements in local industry practices ands profits.  Here is a recap:
 Clair Thomas introduced the students and their 2017 science projects relating to watershed health:
• Claire Bradley and Anna Mattson on “Measuring Oyster Growth in Response to the Addition of Salt Evaporates Using Fluorescing Stains”
• Sam Adams on “The Effects of Changing Ocean Acidity on Calcium and Magnesium Dissolved in Netarts Bay”
• Austin Weeks on the “Potential Geoduck Habitat in Netarts Bay”
• Dillon Pierce on “The Use of Biochar to Remove Sulfur Gasses From a Biogas Digester”
• Celeste Stout on “The Effect of Rainfall on Holden Creek Flooding”
• Ben Springs on the “Effect of Large Woody Debris in Mill Creek on Salmon Spawning and Rearing Habitat”

1. Claire Bradley and Anna Mattson were curious whether byproducts from the processing of Netarts Bay salt by Jacobsen Salt could improve the growth of oyster spat in the Whiskey Creek Shellfish Hatchery. They designed a study that measured lypoproteins and calcium in the baby oysters as they were exposed to calcium and magnesium sulfates (the byproducts). They found a direct correlation between the byproduct and increased oyster growth. Their findings may assist the hatchery in maintaining optimum water chemistry to maximize growth.

2. Sam Adams could not be present, so instructor Thomas shared a brief overview of Sam’s study. Sam found that there was significant buffering capacity of calcium and magnesium on the acidity of saltwater—a major issue considering the increasing problem of ocean acidification. Sam’s study showed that acidification can be mitigated using these natural chemicals, and Clair reported that the results have spurred on further study at OSU.

3. Austin Weeks started by explaining that in the 1970s, geoducks were relatively abundant in Netarts Bay, but due to over-harvest, they declined to the point of nearextinction. His study compared habitat conditions in Netarts Bay with those in Puget Sound (where geoducks thrive) to determine whether there is potential for reintroduction efforts. He found that conditions in Netarts are favorable for geoducks, but that limits on harvest would be necessary to maintain a population.

4. Dillon Pierce investigated the potential for using “bio-char” from the Hampton Lumber Mill to help remove sulfates from the liquid manure that is processed at the Hooley Methane Digester. His study showed that bio-char was very effective at removing sulfates, and that the practice could greatly improve digester efficiency and economics. He calculated that the use of bio-char at the Hooley Digester could result in annual costsavings of $750,000 to $1M annually.

5. Celeste Stout studied the capacity and functionality of the Holden Creek tide gates on the Trask River. Her investigations showed that the water level in Holden Creek cannot begin to drop until the Trask drops below a certain level. She also noted an improvement in function at the tide gates in the winter of 2016-2017 versus prior years. She found that flooding in Holden Creek could be reduced with larger tide gates.

6. Ben Springs could not attend, so Clair presented an overview of Ben’s study. Ben measured the response of Mill Creek to the placement of large-wood structures in 2016 by the TBWC. Kayne Oleman, Council member and TBCC student, mentored Ben in his investigations. They measured pebble counts, macro-invertebrate presence, and geomorphology before and after large wood structures were placed. They found that the diversity of macro-invertebrates almost doubled after the large-wood project—from 9 species to 17 species. They also found that the presence of coho salmon in the study area went from zero in 2016 to 4 adults and 6 redds in 2017.

Council members thanked the students and commended them for providing important information which could result in significant improvements to our watersheds and our local industries.