Greetings from Medford. The fall colors are slowly becoming more and more prominent here and the changing weather is something I’ve long been waiting for. My favorite time to go out in the field is probably fall, so I’ve been going every chance I get.
Lately it’s been much of the same; lots of quarry and mining inspections, but I was able to partake in a recent reclamation project for a mining claim. A miner had left a rather large hole on the other side of a creek and our task was to fill it in since he has since abandoned his notice and operations. The problem was that since the hole was made, it had filled with water and a breach of the creek a few years ago allowed the hole to now be home to coho salmon. Before we could fill in the hole, we had to transfer as many fish as we could back into the creek, so we drained the hole down and then shocked many fish. Most were tiny coho, but the big winner of the day was an 18 inch steelhead who had somehow found his way to the hole. We transferred over 100 coho and several rather large Pacific Giant Salamanders. Once the fish were out, the hole was able to be filled in and reclaimed with heavy equipment. This is where I finally did something with a botanist! I was in charge of figuring out seeding the area, so I grabbed another intern here, Mason, and we went and seeded the area to hopefully eventually return to its natural floodplain state.
Fall seems to be the best time for adventures as well. I recently got to visit the Formosa Mine, a rather interesting Superfund site. The area is an abandoned nickel mine that is creating a lot of acid mine drainage. I believe the pH of the soil is around 2.5. Pretty gnarly stuff.
The Medford District also has around 2,000 abandoned mining features. Some of the adits or shafts often become bat habitat. Since nobody is allowed to go in these mines, Bat Conservation International comes out to survey the mines for us. These guys walk through the ancient portals in order to look for bats. Watching these guys crawl into the shady adits is pretty crazy, especially when they come out in a quarry on the other side! Our survey that day found several bats, which likely means the mine will need a bat gate on it to preserve habitat, rather than closing off the portal entirely. All in all, a good day in the woods.