By Tom Bender
Here we were, in the middle of one of those endless 7-hour “restoration planning” meetings. Everyone stubbornly arguing for the approach they thought would work. That year “large woody debris” was the buzzword. Year before it was probably “remove large woody debris from the creeks.” Sigh.
Remove the dikes. NO, just one opening in one of them. Fill the drainways. NO, gotta keep them open. Plant this-and-that. NO, natural selection will do it.
Should we even bother doing this? With global warming, all these wetlands will soon be underwater in the bay. But do we need to ensure salmon survival in the interim?
OK, it’s getting clear. Ecological systems are complex. NOBODY really knows what will work. Every situation is different. Quit quibbling. Throw a dart, try SOMETHING. Learn from what didn’t work in Round One. Throw a dart again. Round Two. Everybody put their number one desire on the list and let’s see how many we can accommodate.
Interesting what we learned from unexpected sources. Maps, aerial photos, assessor’s records. Okay, the wetlands north of 101 were there a hundred years ago! Oh, that flat “trail” down from Redwing House and 13th Street used to be the road from Nehalem to Manzanita and Neahkahnie. That’s why it is called “Nehalem Road” in Neahkahnie!
Wow, finally found an aerial photo which shows us where everything really is in relation to everything else on the farm. And it was taken right after the hills to the northeast were logged. Shows every hillside and logging road! Yep, there’s the manure tank and the barn.
And then, after we’d bought the farm, the owner was using the agreed time to sell the cows and remove things he wanted. Coming down the hill on the east side of the creek, I suddenly came on this scene. The owner disposing of a huge pile of plastic containers by burning them at the edge of the creek.
Maybe there’s more to restoring salmon habitat than “large woody debris” and shading the creeks. Addressing cultural differences? Building awareness of the poisons dispersed by burning plastics next to the creeks? Maybe . . . and who knows what else?