I have never written a blog before so this is all new terrain for me. I am starting my intership at the US Fish and wildlife office in Klamath Falls Oregon, in the Ecological Studies section of the bureau. Klamath Falls is a small town with a population of over 20,000. It is a little over half an hour south of Crater Lake National Park, which I visited a few years ago but had no idea what to expect of Klamath Falls. I have had plenty of experience living in small towns all over, so I didn’t think it would be a huge shock. My drive luckily was only about 7 hours from Seattle and I got to drive through the beautifully scenic Cascades. After a stressful and frustrating month or so trying to find housing, my fellow interns and I finally found a place to live in town. Pheww.
A quick snapshot on my way to Klamath Falls through the Cascades.
My first week at the office was mainly formal training: computer usage, defensive driving, work safety and electrofishing. Work for the summer will be spent on a variety of different projects. Mainly we will be dealing with two endangered species of fish, the Lost River sucker (Deltistes luxatus) and the shortnose sucker (Chasmistes brevirostris). Both species are endemic to the Upper Klamath basin and were listed endangered back in 1988. Multiple research projects will be working towards their recoveries, with threats being loss/alteration of habitat, blockage to spawning areas, and over-harvesting. One project consists of constructing net pens on the Upper Klamth Lake, where young suckers will be housed until they are a bit larger to be released. Another concern of recovery is the negligible amount of recruitment of adult fish. Additionally young suckers will be reared in constructed ponds for the next two years, where they can be closely monitored and knowledge of how best to rear suckers can be gained. This is all in an effort to preemptively help the suckers and their recovery before an even more major population loss or extinction occurs. With our section of the office dealing only with endangered species we will be working with Applegate’s Milk-vetch (Astragalus applegatei). This flowering plant is in the pea family (Fabaceae) and was listed in 1993. It was believed to have been extinct until it was rediscovered in 1983. There are currently 3 extant populations known. The airport in town has proposed an expansion of one of their runways, which will require a biological assessment of its Applegate’s population before proceeding. The assessment will obtain the location and numbers of each plant, obtain seeds, and try to minimize the impact to the population.
My second week was mainly Motorboat Operator Certification Course (MOCC) with a few days of night work, where we went out to collect larval suckers. Boat training is required since a majority of our work will be on the Upper Klamath Lake. The course consisted of three 8-hour days. The first day was all in class, mainly covering the basics of boating, parts of a boat, safety gear, knots, etc. The second day started out with a pool session. We got to experience the different forms of Personal Flotation Devices (PFD), heat lessening position, and how to rescue someone from the water back into the boat. The rest of the day was spent on the water. We practice with three different types of boats, each boat we would preform different practical tasks. The first one was object recovery and rescue. It entailed throwing PFD IVs, which are the ones you throw to someone after they have fallen overboard. Next was actual rescue of a “person” which was a dummy named OSCAR. Poor Oscar was flung multiple times back into the water to be rescued. Another practice was making a star turn, which is making a turn in a small area. Finally was boat docking, which can be an art in and of itself. And lastly off the boats we were tested in our knot making skills and being able to back a boat trailer, which is not very easy. Overall it was a great experience and I learned an amazing amount about boating. Three days is definitely not enough to learn it all, would take a lifetime. But we got the basics. I was nervous about testing, but passed with flying colors! I can’t wait to get out on our workboat this summer and start work.
A view from the bridge we started netting larval suckers from.
Hopefully better photos to come.
Klamath Falls US Fish and Wildlife