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Johnson Creek Watershed Council E-BULLETIN December 2013 

1) Become a Friend of Johnson Creek 
2) JCWC Volunteers Discover Coho Carcass
3) Johnson Creek’s Newest Side Channel
4) Stumped for a Gift? Give a Name Engraving! 
5) JCWC in the News
6) Native Neighbor: Red-osier dogwood
7) Calendar at a Glance
1) Become a Friend of Johnson Creek
Each gift to the Council before December 31 will be matched dollar for dollar up to $15,000.

Not yet a Friend of Johnson Creek? Join us! 

Click here to contribute.
Watch this video clip: JCWC supporter Teresa Huntsinger tells us why she supports Johnson Creek. 

A big thank you to all our friends who have already responded to the call for support  - your gifts will be matched.

Special thanks to our matching donors: Jim Cooke, Jameson Partners dba Freeway Lands II, The Mintkeski Family Fund of the Oregon Community Foundation, Janet Roberts & Ed Clark, Mary Ann & Bob Schmidt.

2JCWC Volunteers Discover Coho Carcass

On Saturday, November 30, volunteer surveyors Mike Pinker and Michael Cook found a coho salmon carcass in a reach of Johnson Creek in southeast Gresham between Liberty Avenue and Palmblad Road. On December 2, a landowner photographed a live coho swimming in lower Badger Creek, a tributary of Johnson Creek. Last year, two coho carcasses were found and two live coho sighted in the Johnson Creek Watershed.

(volunteer Michael Cook with the coho carcass)

Alex Neerman, a biologist from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife confirmed that the 57.5 cm

(22.6 inch) carcass was female. With no eggs inside and the tail worn and looking like it had been used to dig a redd (a spawning nest), Neerman thought it likely that the fish had spawned.

(photo of live coho on Badger Creek taken by homeowner Bill Parker)

The fish had no hatchery markings – i.e a clipped adipose fin or tags – meaning that it probably was a wild fish.  A scale sample taken from the fish will provide more information about it, including its age.Read more here.

3) Johnson Creek’s Newest Side Channel
This summer, a JCWC-TriMet stream restoration project was constructed near the future home of the Tacoma St. / Johnson Creek MAX station. Specifically, logs and boulders were installed instream and a side channel was excavated.

(The side channel filled with water during the recent rains)

What’s the big deal about a side channel?
Side channels are vital refuge habitat for several endangered salmon and steelhead species including Lower Columbia River coho, Upper Willamette River chinook and Lower Columbia River steelhead in Johnson Creek. Side channels are characterized by slow, shallow water that are protected from high flows during storms. Juvenile salmon and resident fish need these areas to rear during the summer, and may also use gravel areas to spawn in fall.

In the lower reaches of Johnson Creek historic alterations to the stream channel left little slow water habitat. The recent project reclaims the once abundant side channel habitat for the benefit of salmon, trout and other resident fishes.

See more photos of side channels at InStream Conservation or read “Juvenile salmon use of constructed and natural side channels in Pacific Northwest rivers“.

Dave Stewart, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife Restoration Biologist explains further:

“Side channel habitat is one of the most important instream habitat features for native fish species in Oregon streams. It is documented in many conservation plans as a key to recovery of endangered salmon populations. Side channels provide a direct benefit to salmonid species by creating refuge areas during high flow periods. These off channel areas provide greater habitat complexity including large wood that supports additional rearing capacity throughout the year. Restoring side channel habitats benefit downstream reaches as well from improved hydrologic function. Flood flows are attenuated in the winter and low summer flows are increased through additional groundwater storage. These restoration actions not only benefit salmon and resident fish and wildlife species, but also benefits local communities living downstream of these restored areas.

Many stream channels in Oregon have been straightened and simplified for various reasons over time and this simplification has disconnected the main channel from side channel habitats. This disconnection to off channel habitat creates higher flows in the main channel increasing incision and the continued fragmentation of habitats. Side channel habitat is listed as a key limiting factor for steelhead, chinook, coho, and chum salmon within the Lower Columbia Conservation and Recovery Plan. The Conservation Plan states that a key action will be to address “Impaired habitat complexity and diversity, including access to off-channel habitats.” If we are able to protect and restore off-channel habitats throughout our watershed we will be providing a direct benefit to rearing, migrating and spawning salmonid populations. Salmon and steelhead productivity and resiliency will be increased through protection and restoration actions that address side channel habitats. “

4) Stumped for a Gift? Give a Name Engraving! 
Give a unique gift this holiday season and help fund the Johnson Creek Interpretive Boardwalk.

The salmon habitat enhancements at the Tacoma MAX Station are complete. And now we’re building a boardwalk there to celebrate Johnson Creek! We want you to be part of it. Literally. With your or a loved one’s name engraved on the boardwalk handrail.

To order: jcwc.org/engraving/. We’ll send you a nicely-printed placard letting your loved ones know about the gift made in his or her honor. A perfect stocking stuffer.

5) JCWC in the News
“Funds aim to recruit minority volunteers for stream health”

6) Native Neighbors: Red-osier dogwood (Cornus sericea)
Our neighbor for December might be more overtly showy when it’s in flower in spring, but it shows its “true colors” best after first frost. Red-osier (or red-twig) dogwood is a spreading, many-stemmed shrub, growing anywhere from 1-6 m (3-20 ft) tall.  Its bottom branches will often lie on the ground, where they may root; young stems take on the eponymous bright red color, especially after the weather turns cold.The leaves are opposite, deciduous, and oval, 5-10 cm (2-4 in) across, and feature 5-7 prominent parallel veins, which converge at the tip of the leaf. Each vein contains a silky, white thread, which you can see if you gently pull the leaf apart. 

Leaves also turn red in the fall.  The small flowersare white to greenish, 2-4 mm (ca. 1/8 in) long, and appear in dense, umbel-like clusters in spring and early summer (very different from the “buttons” of flowers with showy bracts that one thinks of for flowering dogwoods).

The fruits (drupes) are white, sometimes tinged blue, and 7-9 mm (¼-3/8 in) long.  These are one form ofreproduction; vegetative spread via rooting stems (described above) is the other. Red-osier dogwood’shabitat is in moist soil, especially along forested streams and in swamps, though it will also grow at forest edges and on disturbed sites. In addition to its many aesthetic offerings, red-osier dogwood is a very important native shrub ecologically: a wide variety of birds eat the berries (including vireos, warblers, kingbirds, robins, flickers, flycatchers, wood ducks, grouse, band-tailed pigeons, and quail), as do bears, foxes, skunks, and chipmunks; butterfly larvae eat the leaves, while adults feed on the nectar; and the wood is a very important winter food source for moose, deer and elk. 

More Information:

6) Calendar at a Glance

  • Saturday, December 21 – Restoration with Friends of Errol Heights – 9am-12pm – mulching and weeding. Meet at SE 52nd and Tenino
  • Thursday, January 16 – Green Streets Stewards orientation
  • Thursday, January 23 – Portland Parks Stewards orientation
  • Monday, January 20 – 10am-12pm – Planting event at Eastmoreland Golf Course
  • Saturday, February 8 – planting event at Johnson Creek Dental (across from Tideman Johnson Park)
  • December 31 – last day to double your contribution to JCWC!
  • Saturday, March 1 – Watershed Wide

For more information, or to RSVP for any of the above events, contact Amy Lodholz at amy@jcwc.org
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