Archive for the 'The Resource' Category



at Bonneville Dam on the mighty Columbia River.

Bonneville Dam Spillway, SwittersB

Col River Trib Dams BPA SwittersB

Hydro Dams on Columbia River and tributaries via BPA graphic


Urbanites & Food: Revisiting 50 years ago.

A backyard garden: Growing up in the 50’s/60’s, every family in my neighborhood had a vegetable garden and one or more fruit trees. Some were into composting back then, no one had chickens or rotated beds as far as I can remember. But, still it was normal to have fresh produce for the late Summer and Fall. In the last ten years or so there has been a revisiting of the garden coupled with the obligatory ‘organic’, chickens perhaps, definitely rotating beds, cover crops, composting and bees.

Photography-SwittersB-Nick's Cottage

This week, after I investigated the little gem of a cottage and took photos, I received an invite to return. I did indeed return. Walking right out the back door I walked into bee hives and bees seemingly everywhere. Roosters, hens, rabbits. Crops bursting forth. This was not my dad’s tomatoes, cuc’s, corn and string beans. Coops and pens are built to shed poop…then the coop and pens are moved over and a new vegetable bed is constructed atop the past cast off’s area. This is not the feel good urban farming with hens as pets. Food is the purpose. Last weeks rooster is this weeks dinner.


The visit was completed with a nice jar of comb honey and an appreciation of how gardening use to be in the urban setting…and still is for some.

photography-comb honey-gardening-bee keeping-SwittersB




Moose Rescue From Swing Set



Wind Turbine Prop/Blade is Huge

I was motoring out the freeway today when I came upon an awkward object on a very long truck-trailer rig. It was heading East…I assume destined up the Gorge.

I didn’t get a very good shot with the cell, but you get the idea.

Concerned Citizen captured this shot of a trailered blade. He looks at the issue from a deeper perspective than me. 


Stop Omega Protein! Menhaden Too Important

Menhaden in Danger

Have you heard of the Menhaden fish? Maybe on the East Coast of the U.S. you have. Beyond living there and reading about this fish, you like me are probably not well informed about this important fish in the Atlantic Ocean. Well next time you pop your Omega 3 pill or feed your cat or fertilize your plants you may want to evaluate the utilization of this fish.

Some call it the most important fish swimming in the Atlantic. Read more about the value of this decimated fishery and how the destruction will, not may, reap havoc on the Atlantic fishery. 

“Like any good mystery, this one has a prime suspect. Across the Chesapeake and about sixty miles to the south of where Price stands, a seaside factory hums and buzzes, filling the small town of Reedville, Virginia, with the putrid smell of menhaden chum. The looming smokestacks, warehouses, and pretty much everything else on Reedville’s Menhaden Road are owned by Omega Protein, a publicly traded company headquartered in Houston with a long and storied history of industrial fishing in Atlantic waters.

The operation is high-tech. Spotter planes take off from Reedville’s tiny airstrip to circle swathes of ocean, looking for the telltale shadow of menhaden moving by the million just below the surface. Pilots radio Omega Protein’s fleet of nine refurbished World War II transport ships, one of which dispatches two smaller boats that surround the school with a giant net called a purse seine, drawing the fish tightly together using the mechanics of a drawstring sack, until all the members of the school can be sucked out of the ocean with a vacuum pump. The boats can “set” the net twelve to fifteen times a day; a vessel will return to port with millions of menhaden aboard.

Harvested by the billions and then processed into various industrial products, menhaden are extruded into feed pellets that make up the staple food product for a booming global aquaculture market, diluted into oil for omega-3 health supplements, and sold in various meals and liquids to companies that make pet food, livestock feed, fertilizer, and cosmetics.” 

Use all them darn Tilapia!!!


The Bean….GoodYear Tire & The Soy Bean Oil Tire?

Longer lasting tires? Soy Bean Oil used to make better tires that are not dependent on petroleum derivatives? Apparently, this is a possibility by maybe 2015. Tests are on going in Oklahoma and Texas. Good Year Tires is leading the way! Is there enough soy bean production to satisfy this demand?

Could other parts of the country or world for that matter grow soy beans? Would it truly be a game changer?


Columbia River Habitat: Portland Green Streets Project

I mentioned several months ago that the streets were torn up and a sizable project had commenced in the neighborhood. Eventually, it was obvious the various corners and intersections were being altered and it became obvious that catch basins were being built on a grand scale. I made some enquiries of the City of Portland and soon some information flowed my way re the project’s purpose and costs. 

Kate Goudschaal (C of P, Bureau of Environmental Services) wrote to me: “You are correct that the major construction on the 16 stormwater facilities is nearly complete. There are a few small final restoration items that still need to take place to close-out the project but the facilities themselves are ready for planting this coming spring.”

The 16 Green Basins stretched down the street, on both sides. The heavy equipment and traffic disruption were evident, but not too intrusive. Of course, this activity was not directly in front of my house. Some homes lost parking directly in front of their home. In the quiet back neighborhood streets this is personally felt. In the inner city, one often can't park in front of your home.

 “This project was designed in response to the retrofitting of 26 Underground Injection Control (UIC) sites in the area. UIC sites, also known as sumps, are large, vertical, perforated pipes that are installed underground to collect stormwater and allow it to infiltrate into the ground while pollutants and other sediments are slowly filtered out.  Retrofitting the sumps reduced the amount of stormwater they could collect which resulted in the need to create additional stormwater management options in the area.”  

 “The solution was to build a certain number of above ground stormwater facilities to adequately manage the stormwater runoff in the area.  Green streets function in the same way as sumps but on the surface of the street – horizontally as apposed to vertical and underground. The substrate and plants selected for the facilities are specifically chosen for their ability to filter pollutants and clean the stormwater before it infiltrates the groundwater system and/or is discharged to local waterways.”  

Right now, as I write, it is pouring out. The green basins are without any plantings. The run off, in our neighborhood, comes off a steep residential hillside toward the basins. They have been filling up with water at a fast pace. When the plantings come in the next month or so, the run off/drainage into the below ground sump basins should slow down.

“The facilities along (your street) are a little different however. Structurally, they are similar to other facilities around town, but they all have a lining installed in the bottom to prevent the water from immediately filtering into the ground water.  Instead, the water filters through the plants and substrate, is cleaned and then collected in a perforated pipe in the bottom of the facility that conveys the water to the local stormwater pipe system in the area. The stormwater pipes then carry the cleaned stormwater to discharge in the Columbia Slough.” 

An almost finished green basin. The structural part is done, and the plantings are coming this Spring.

“This project lies within the City Council’s adopted Columbia South Shore Wet Field Wellhead Protection Area which is the designated ground water source for Portland if/when the reservoir drinking water system fails. So, protecting the ground water and managing stormwater in this area is particularly crucial.  Stormwater management in this area helps maintain the integrity of the aquifer as well as cleans street runoff before it reaches the sensitive Columbia Slough waterway.”

 Ms. Goudschaal offered the following information when I enquired about the cost of the project to build 16 Green Basins: “The project was awarded to Brant Construction out of Vancouver, Washington for a winning bid value of $605,628.00. The 16 stormwater facilities made up roughly 40% of the overall project budget and came in at about $242,000.00. So, with 16 facilities included in the portion of the project, the total construction cost (start to finish) per facility came to approximately $15,125.00. This project is funded….through water and sewer utility rates.”

The following links from Ms.Goudschaal provide a wealth of information about this project and the greater picture involved in the handling of storm water:

There is a wealth of knowledge on this topic (and much more) on our website. I encourage you to do more research here:    Columbia South Shore Well Field Ground Water Aquifer:

 Sustainable Stormwater Management:

 Green Street Program overview

 Watershed Management:

If you have an interest in such a project for your area, check out the information to become informed.




Oregon’s Forests of Trees

My favorite...The Ponderosa Pine

Trees…everyone has an opinion about them. All agree they are beautiful in their varying varieties in Oregon. How they are managed and the impact upon watersheds and the livelihood of communities divide many. The Oregon Forest Resources Institute does a good job explaining the various forces at play. Of course, there are those that see OFRI as a green talking shill for the lumber producers. Maybe, but the site does provide some useful information about the trees themselves and that is interesting, all enviro lip flapping, hand wringing aside.

“Clearcutting, one of several harvest options, is a method in which most of the trees are removed and the forest is regener- ated by planting new trees. Not every location is suitable for clearcutting.


West of the Cascades, forest landowners often choose to clearcut because Douglas-fir seed- lings planted after harvest grow best in full sunlight. Oregon law requires that new trees be planted within two years after harvest, and that trees be left as buffers around streams and retained for wildlife habitat.


In more extreme climates, the forest canopy helps protect fragile seedlings from heat and frost, so clearcutting is less common. Trees are usually harvested individually or in small groups.”  OFRI


State of Jefferson…’A State of Mind’

I recall reading something about a sputtering effort to create a new state, a 49th state, called Jefferson, which would combine the a SW portion of Oregon and a Northern portion of California. The movement, ‘a state of mind’ had supposed momentum in 1941 only to be upended by Pearl Harbor.

State of Jefferson

I had to study up on the X X (double crossed by Sacramento and Salem) center piece for the ‘state seal’. It would be a curious blend of Independent Country folks and Ashland Progressives. (more)

Just a bit of NW oddities that has always made the region ‘special’ 


Watersheds and Stormwater Basins/Planters

Neighborhood under storm water planter box construction. Columbia Slough and Columbia R. benefit.

A typical urban enviro project for Portland. Supposed habitat enhancement, storm water runoff screening/filtering and reduced parking in front of homes. Trade offs/potentially significant for the watersheds. Where I have seen these types, jutting into the street, there are several gouge marks on the front end of the planter boxes from cars failing to see the reflectors and hazard yellow paint and becoming a temporary planter box ornament. A reasonable expectation, I mean people drive into power poles too.

Here the entire corner will be occupied by a storm water catch basin with foot paths cut through for pedestrian passage.

All this construction is on the downhill side of roads that run perpendicular to the Columbia Slough. In addition to the runoff, several springs run down off the hillside and enter the slough. I have such a spring running behind my property. I have left my property unaltered along the spring’s edges…neighbors along the way have not and I have seen the silt build up over the years, despite inspections, surveys and reviews. Anyway, below is how the storm drain basins are suppose to look upon completion…

We shall see how they function with run off; or, when under a foot of drifting snow and folks inadvertently drive into them. A reasonable attempt to I spose to control runoff of the waters moving South to North into the Columbia River Slough and Columbia River.

The Columbia River Watershed, where the I-205/I-84 meet and East, the terrain slopes toward the slough and the Columbia River.

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July 2020

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