Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Olde Reed

Back in the halcyon year of 2003 my son apparently thought more like myself on matters "environmental". Witness the front page story from the front page of the Quest student newspaper of Reed College:

Well, it's now 2009 the outdoor pool is gone, the current students don't know that it ever existed and the myth of the "Canyon" continues to grow unencumbered by fact, logic, or science.

The common assumption on campus includes the mistaken concept that the lake/pond is the only naturally occuring pond in the Portland area. Actually the dam which created the pond was built sometime around the turn of the century, backing up the springs of Crystal creek to form the current impoundment. The dam has obviously been maintained and improved over the years and until the advent of the fish ladder (concurrent with the demolition of the outdoor pool) was used both as a pathway and motor way over the creek at the base of the pond. The dam has done what all dams do over time. It has retarded the flow of water down the "canyon", resulting in the gradual accumulation of silt and organic detritus. Thus the pond has become shallower year by year. As it has become shallower, the water has become warmer and more filled with oxygen depleting (when it dies), algae and other water born plants such as duck weed.

The waters of Crystal Creek fed by springs above within and below the pond are beautiful, clear and cool. Allowed to flow freely it is a remarkably clear beautiful stream to see in an urban area. The pond itself however is a blighted polluted mess. Fortunately, as time passes it will eventually fill with silt and cease to be a pond at all. This being the case, why was the outdoor pool demolished in favor of a fish ladder? The obvious goal was to provide access to the pond by anadramous fish such as salmon and trout (steelhead). Yes, the odd fish, if it survives Johnson creek, could make it up Crystal Creek. But what happens to said fish after it powers its way up the fish ladder? It dies of course!

This brings me to to a fork(triple tined) in the road. I see 3 possible management strategies:
1. Do nothing. The pond will eventually disappear.
2. Dredge the pond to a depth of 20 feet. Landscape the shore and place strategic bolders, logs and other features to provide habitat. Plant liberally with large mouth bass, blue gill and crappies. Offer basic fly and spin fishing classes to the students.
3. Recruit an intrepid group of environmentally aware students, dress them in Ninja outfits, arm them with C4 explosive, detonators and a tutorial on explosive engineering. Blow the damn, declare victory for Environmentalism and allow Crystal Creek to once again flow freely without dams, fish ladders, or any man made "improvements".

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