May 17, 2011 - Sisters Nugget - Steelhead fry released into creek

May 24, 2011

May 17, 2011 - Sisters Nugget - Steelhead fry released into creek

Steelhead fry released into creek

By Jim Anderson Correspondent
5/17/2011 12:56:00 PM

Something very fishy was going on in the Sisters Country last Tuesday.

About a quarter of a million tiny steelhead salmon fry were released along several points of Whychus Creek. Volunteers planted hundreds of riparian plants on the banks of the creek.

Early in the day, a Sisters school bus pulled up at the trailhead to Wolftree's preserve on the creek with a few of Samra Spear's language arts students. All are members of a student stewardship project.

Moments later, Kolleen Yake of the Upper Deschutes Watershed Council arrived with two enormous plastic bags filled to the brim with a wide selection of riparian plants the students were going to plant along the creek.

Clearwater Native Plant Nursery of Redmond donated the plants.

Once on the creek, Remington Bruce, the project leader, split the students into teams and they got down to the business of planting alder, spirea, aspen, and coyote willow along the creek.

Brittney Wilhelm, a junior and one of the communications specialists in Mrs. Spear's class, wrote a press release for the Great Fish: "There are three different groups of students involved in the student stewardship project. This group consists of the communication specialists, led by Kolleen Yake, created engineers, headed by Laura Campbell, and the scientist, directed by Bess Ballantine of

"Each group takes a different approach to study the area, and connect to the creek in a variety of ways. Through art, science, writing, or music, each group studying Whychus Creek and preparing final projects to share what they have learned about the creek bed and themselves."

Just about the time the first group had planted most of the riparian vegetation, down the trail came the scientists toting huge plastic bags with a total of around 16,000 steelhead salmon fry. One of the students, Bryan Boswell, was carrying around 4,000 fry in a big plastic bag.

Bess Ballintine, of Wolftree - who was partnered up with Upper Deschutes Watershed Council - immediately took the bags of fish and placed them in a shady spot in the creek so the little guys could become acclimated to the water temperature. Time was of the essence to get the fry into the creek before they ran out of oxygen.

Nate Dachtler, USFS fish biologist for the Sisters Ranger District, came along to steer the students in the right direction, showing them the best places along the edge of the creek where the fish would settle in safely.

After lunch, Dachtler - standing in the creek - gave the students an overview of salmon life history, fish releases, fishery biology, ecological relationships of Whychus Creek and the splendid conservation work accomplished by PGE in making it safe for fish to make the downstream trek to the ocean safely.

Remington Bruce said, "I myself have witnessed this project in action and it's truly a great experience. It offers those passionate about science a chance to analyze and research as they would if employed by a major organization such as these. Artists and musicians have a perfect place as creative engineers, where they learn to channel that creative spirit in a positive and unique fashion. Those with plans of careers in radio, news, advertising or organization have found a place as communication specialists. These students are working to restore the community, in which they live, give back to an area which has offered them so much and for that, we thank them."

And, kids being kids, when all the work was done, they all jumped into the creek.

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