Showers, Hatchery Happenin’s and More Info on the 2017 Eagle Creek Fire



Sunrise- Host Site #2

The Columbia Gorge definition of rain showers is somewhat akin to my definition of a cloudburst, a deluge if you will. Last Saturday’s morning starts with a steady rain. As the sun comes up rain ends leaving mostly cloudy skies. We are on duty so we spend quite a bit of time doing our morning chores and interacting with visitors. Around 1330 hours we decide to take to mutzos for a walk- just a few big raindrops falling at the time. We get halfway to the garage when the heavens open up with a very intense “shower”. It rained so hard that by the time we scurried the 600 feet back to our RV the roads had puddled and we as well as the dogs were soaked. We tried to open the door to the RV so Jil could go in and grab a couple of towels but the dogs had other ideas. The wedged themselves into the crack of the door and wouldn’t be left outside, even under the awning. So we all piled in soaking wet where the dogs were toweled off and we changed our soaking wet clothes. Some shower!

salmon eggs
Fertilized Chinook Eggs

Salmon that had been sorted out as spawners have been inspected. The females that have ripe eggs have been spawned, the ones that aren’t ripe have been returned to the spawning ponds. Those eggs gathered from the spawners go into a bucket containing water that reminds me of a large popcorn bucket one would buy at a movie theater. Milt from a male is added and presto! The red eggs turn pink, indicating that they have been fertilized. And fertilization is just that fast- instantaneous! A liquid anitmicrobial is added to the bucket to protect the fertilized eggs. The fertilized eggs are transported from the spawning room to the largest building on hatchery grounds, the Egg House.

Rearing Ponds in Foreground, Egg Incubation Room in Background

The eggs are placed in shallow baskets that have a constant flow of water running through them. The eggs are constantly monitored both by machine and by humans to determine their viability. If an egg dies it is removed. Eventually the eggs hatch, the young fish are fed and supported until they are large enough to go outside into the rearing ponds.

Fish Guys Working a Rearing Pond Full of Salmon Fingerlings

And there predators await them, mostly birds like the great blue heron, lesser herons, egrets, gulls and occasionally mammals like otters looking for a free dinner. The predators are thwarted by smart Fish Guys who have placed netting over the ponds. An estimated 1.8 million eggs have been harvested to date.

I believe I mentioned that our friends and fellow hosts here at the hatchery were present during the big Eagle Creek wildfire. Here is a link to their blog:

Here’s a Youtube link to a helicopter flyover of the Eagle Creek Fire dated September 23, 2017- the day I-84 was opened in both directions, two weeks after the fire started……..:

Even though all four of us hosts have worked either in the public sector or worked directly with the public through private enterprise we are still amazed by the lack of common sense by some folks. Case in point- two bus loads of people with learning disabilities pull into the parking lot and unload. The folks on board are having a great time touring the hatchery. Many carry water bottles which the thirsty folks have consumed. Jil spots several of them refilling their water bottles in the Jumping Salmon Fountain located in front of the gift shop. Now this fountain has seen thousands of dirty fingers and a bunch wild critters make contact since we cleaned it last month and God knows what is growing in that clean looking but nasty bacterial soup. Jil stops those unsuspecting folks from filling and probably drinking that unclean liquid and dumps their bottles in the trash. Where are their guardians? Who is getting paid for looking out for those folks, anyway? Raise your hand if you are absent!

Thought For The Day – Common sense is not a gift, it’s a punishment. Because if you have it you have to deal with all the people who don’t.

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