April 2017 Council Meeting Minutes


MINUTES

McKenzie Watershed Council

April 13, 2017

Springfield Utility Board

Springfield, Oregon

 

PRESENT: Council Partners: Carol Ach (Resident Partner), Diane Albino (Mohawk Watershed Partnership), Brian Brazil (International Paper), Bob Bumstead (McKenzie Flyfishers), Kurt Cox (Resident Partner), Nate Day (McKenzie Schools), Arlene Dietz (Rice Family Farms), Daniel Dietz (McKenzie River Trust), Rod Fosback (NW Steelheaders), Chad Helms (Army Corps of Engineers), Randy Hledik (Wildish), Dave Kretzing (Resident Partner), Joe Pishioneri (Springfield City Council), Ralph Perkins (Upper Willamette SWCD), Maryanne Reiter (Weyerhaeuser), Will Rutherford (Resident Partner, Alternate for Andy McWilliams), Suzanne Schindler (McKenzie River Ranger District), Mark Schulze (HJ Andrews Experimental Forest), Emily Semple (Eugene City Council), Wade Stampe (Resident Partner), Mark Stephen (BLM), Nancy Toth (EWEB), and Jeff Ziller (ODFW)

 

STAFF: Jared Weybright, Jennifer Weber, Justin Demeter, and Larry Six

 

VISITOR: Charles Tannenbaum (Clearwater Coalition)

 

ABSENT: Keir Miller (Lane County), and Steve Mealey (McKenzie River Guides)

 

PROXIES: Maryanne Reiter for Sue Zeni

 

  1. Introductions and Approval of Agenda

Mr. Ralph Perkins, Facilitator

Action Requested: Approval of agenda

 

Agenda approved- all showing consensus level 3.

 

  1. General Public Comment Session

No comments from the public.

 

  1. Approval of March 2017 Minutes

Called for consensus on approving the March 2017 Council Meeting Minutes.

Call for consensus. Minutes approved all showing consensus level 3.

 

  1. Partner Announcements

Ms. Semple shared that the City of Eugene had reached an agreement on the purchase of EWEB’s riverfront purchase property. The Council has received 154 applications from individuals for various boards and commissions. The Council has been discussing different ideas for shelters and day spaces for unsheltered. The Eugene City proposed budget will be out on 4/26 and will be available online for review.

 

Ms. Albino had no updates from the Mohawk Valley but mentioned a large tree, which fell on River Road.

 

Ms. Toth mentioned the Leaburg canal outage for maintenance will end next week. Maintenance on Walterville canal will begin soon and go to June 24th. EWEB is currently having hazard trees removed along Leaburg canal as part of FERC relicensing.

 

Mr. Fosback shared that the NW Steelheaders had released steelhead smolts into the Siuslaw in March.

 

Ms. Reiter shared that Weyerhaeuser and OSU will be working in collaboration on study work on forest gaps on Gate Creek.

 

Mr. Pishioneri mentioned that he is on the Metro Wastewater Management Commission, and that last fall there were several heavy flow events and that all flows received were treated, and that nothing overflowed, untreated into the rivers. While it was good to have the capacity for that, they are working on increasing capacity further. He also shared that he supports EWEB’s efforts to develop a second, redundant water source on the Willamette.

 

Mr. Dietz shared that MRT kicked off its Homewaters fundraising campaign at the McKenzie Memories event on Friday.

 

Ms. Schindler shared a few updates from Ray Rivera. As part of the Cougar Creek project survey work, cutthroat redds were found. There will be a tour for the South Fork floodplain project, specifically for permitting purposes on April 26.

 

Mr. Bumstead mentioned the problems at Rennie boat landing, which has poor access and problems caused by high flows. The landing needs work so that it can be used this year, as there is currently an approximate 3’ drop from the end of the ramp to the water level. This may require a temporary fix, such as gravel delivery to be usable this year. The McKenzie River Guides would like to have this landing ready for use this year. He has been meeting with Liz Aleman at the BLM, Jeff Ziller and Steve Mealey, to get in contact with Oregon Marine Board to get an emergency fix put in, but then also a long-term fix to redesign the landing. Currently, the entry and parking are problematic. Funding for this long-term fix may be available from the ODFW R&E board. The land ownership for the landing is questionable, and it may also require an environmental assessment. An additional item which he would like partners to think about is that the Salmon Watch Steering committee has been discussing possible Salmon Watch September field trip sites as the spawning channel may or may not be available during the future work at Trail Bridge. If any Council partners have any ideas, please let Bob or Justin know. He also recently met with the new local Trout Unlimited chapter President, Paul Wagner. Mr. Wagner is interested in doing more volunteer work with members.

 

Mr. Stephen announced that the Willamalane Thurston Hills project scoping is tonight. McKenzie Landscape EA is back from public review and will be released soon.

 

Mr. Helms shared that the reservoirs are at or above the rule curve. Snowpack is at 129% of normal and for the Willamette basin, that means we’re at 144% for water.

 

Mr. Ziller shared that they have been working through the issues with ACOE and ODFW operated hatcheries, he does not believe that the request for proposal (RFP) has come out yet, and that timing on the RFP may be tight due to scheduling and hatchery operations. Many people have been asking about fish run numbers for this year and from what is coming over Willamette Falls, it is not looking good. NOAA is looking at not extending the in-water work periods in the Willamette system. Winter steelhead only topped 700 this year (4000 is normal). They are not seeing summer steelhead coming over the falls and are hoping that it is just that the water is high and cold. These fish went out in 2015, a drought year with high instances of disease. There was a lot of clear water during those lower flows, which coupled with a lot of predators that can see the fish in clear water, they expect the out migrations to have been poor. The Spring Chinook run was forecast to be less than last year, but with these conditions, it is likely to come in even lower. The USFS work on Indigo Spring on the Mid- Fork Willamette included a new culvert and habitat for bull trout. ODFW planted bull trout a couple of times, but it has not gone well. They are going to go back in and move some fry in from the South Fork of the McKenzie. They have already installed a screw trap up on Roaring river on the South Fork and will transplant fish from there.

 

Ms. Semple asked for clarification on fish runs. Mr. Ziller explained that the out-migration population was bad and that, coupled with the “blob” in the Pacific (warm water) affecting the food supply in the Pacific the return population is expected to be low. The “blob” is an area of warm water off of the Pacific coast which is thought to be caused by global warming.

 

Mr. Bumstead added that on Monday evening (7 pm), the McKenzie Flyfishers will have federal scientists giving talks about hatchery fish and wild fish. Federal agencies have decided to list hatchery produced salmon under the ESA.

 

  1. Staff Reports

 

Mr. Six shared that Steve Mealey will not be present due to other obligations, so there will not be an update on the McKenzie Interpretive Center tonight. He will be back next month and give the presentation then. Mr. Six also announced his planned retirement as of September 30, 2017. He has been with the Council for over 10 years, and he and Schee are ready to retire and have some fun. He feels that we have a strong staff that is able to manage well. The Council has a good strategic plan, which was adopted in 2016. He will still be around in the local area and will remain engaged with various interests either through part-time work or volunteering. He thanked everyone for the time and opportunity to work with the Council.

 

Mr. Demeter has been very busy in the field with students 4 days a week. Upcoming items include the middle school restoration teams tour, which has been set for May 25th, and the Restoration Olympics, which has been scheduled for June 1st. He has been working with the new Water Quality teams on training on collection and analysis protocols as well as collecting data. Salmon Watch dates have been set for the 2017 season in an effort to allow teachers to plan in advance. Schools will start signing up in May. There is a focus on funding for Salmon Watch (for the 2017 season) to help offset costs to the schools.

 

Ms. Weber announced that the Council recently submitted a grant to the Collins Foundation for $75,000 over three years to primarily fund staff time associated with the WATERS program (Teams and Salmon Watch). She recently also drafted an OWEB Small Grant application for the Filacres property to begin a riparian project in areas identified as part of the PWP pilot program. The application will be submitted on May 1. Ms. Weber shared an update regarding the OWEB Outreach grant application revisions for which she is a member of the Rules Advisory Committee. Due to measure 76 which more narrowly defined outreach eligible for OWEB funding, OWEB’s counsel has determined that environmental education is ineligible for funding going forward. This will be announced more publicly in the coming weeks. The Network is compiling a list of alternate funding sources, and organizations have been encouraged to include education components into their restoration applications. The Council is currently in a good position as our recent outreach application is for the next two years (2017-2019), and was recommended for full funding. We will continue to diversify and strengthen our funding for education. She also recently drafted the OCF grant report for the period May 2016-2017, and that will be submitted by May 1. She thanked the BLM for the donation of 800 conifers, which were picked up and planted at four sites in the lower McKenzie.

Ms. Weber also met with another one of the naturescaping clients who was in the PWP pilot program and will be meeting with her again next week for her 60% conceptual design.

 

Mr. Weybright has spent the majority of his time in the last month between project development and planning on the South Fork and grant writing to support that project. He has been out with the UO ELP students who are working on two different projects: piloting monitoring methods on Deer Creek which may also be used on the South Fork project, and pre-project baseline assessments at the Landers Property. Additionally, he has been working on a new endeavor this year with SPS students. These SPS students are completing independent study projects on water quality and wood placement. Students are currently working up reports, which will be shared with the Council at its June meeting.

 

Mr. Weybright also discussed the grant spreadsheet that was provided as part of the meeting packet. The spreadsheet included grant funding efforts in progress. He mentioned that the Middle McKenzie line items are the South Fork Project. This project couples the MRT’s Finn Rock Reach Site and the floodplain area just below Cougar Dam. This makes sense since there is a wide floodplain from Quartz Creek to Horse Creek while above and below this area, the river is fairly constrained by bedrock and hillslope. This results in more floodplain opportunities in this reach. This is also a productive chinook and bull trout site. The NOAA Application was a large ask, with a 1:1 match (Homewaters Campaign funding as match funding). WCS is a pre-application and a new funding source for us (climate change). Both applications were written in partnership with USFS and MRT. For most of these applications, the MWA is the applicant, but some of these are with partners or partner applicants. The scope of these applications really shows the regional approach we are taking.

 

  1. Forest Service Management Plan for Blue Pool

Shane Kamrath, McKenzie River Ranger District

 

Management Plan for Blue Pool (Tamolitch Pool)

 

Blue Pool has seen explosive popularity for a number of reasons. There is a beautiful hike and trail into this area. There is easy access from McKenzie Highway (ORE-126), and it is in a recreation area. It is surrounded by other recreation locations including Trail Bridge and Smith River above. In 2013, there was a lot of social media surrounding Blue Pool and it went from dozens of visitors a day to hundreds a day. The trail is a mixed-use trail for hikers and mountain bikers. Last year from 5/23/16 to 1/14/17 there were over 30,000 hikers on the trail. Daily average was 128. Busiest day was 7/23 with 1,991 hikers. Mountain bikers during same period included 2,781 bikers, with a daily average of only 12 bikes. There have been many websites and posts on social media that have helped to spread the word about Blue Pool. On some websites, it was listed as one of the top 10 swimming holes in the nation.

 

Management for the impacts created by this popularity includes three categorical choices: eliminate access, mitigate or accept damage.

 

The trails were built to be typically only 24” wide, and do not allow for passing but with that number of people it requires approximately 48.”

 

Issues

Parking: Cars parked on both sides of the trailhead parking area, in ditches, and along the highway because there is no formal parking area. There has been discussion on the parking closure at the trailhead. For now, we are only allowing parking on the east-side. Due to access needs (ambulance access).

 

Sanitation: No toilets. It is a lengthy hike and without restroom facilities, folks are relieving themselves along the trail. Sanitation is an issue.

 

Congestion: EWEB construction and access to Trail Bridge campground.

 

Litter: Lots of trash, diapers, wrappers, water bottles, etc.

 

Fire: Last year, the Blue Top fire affected over 50 acres. Almost $2 million spent on safety. It is believe it was set on purpose. Even during the fire closure, many people tried to get through barricades and enter the area.

 

People are hiking this unprepared resulting in injuries and medical emergencies. Additionally, people are going off-trail, trying to shorten the route.

 

There are currently plans for phased work to address many of these issues.

 

Phase I ($160,000)

Trailwork using Northwest Youth Corps, and can use motorized carts and horseback to get supplies in.

  • Retread McKenzie River National Recreational Trail.
  • Update Kiosk
  • Restroom

 

Phase II (2019)

  • Replace bridges
  • Create a bypass Mountain Bike trail

 

Phase III ($300,00)

-Parking lot (70 cars)

As part of Phase III, they will need to go through the NEPA process because expanding and formalizing the parking lot will have impacts.

 

Currently, they have over $100K in grants and another $30K in match funds for the project.

 

Question – Mr. Bumstead: There are some gnarly sections now, will the new mountain bike trail be easier or more challenging?

Answer Mr. Kamrath – Its purpose is to separate the traffic.

 

Question – Mr. Fosback: We have an event there in the summer at Carmen, and many people don’t even have water bottles. The bathroom (portapotties) gets a lot of use. It might be good to have another bathroom there.

Answer – Mr. Kamrath: Suzanne is taking down suggestions and will include this as one.

 

Question – Mr. Hledik: Does the Forest Service have any capacity standards for this sort of thing, such as a number of parking spaces or bathrooms?

Answer – Mr. Kamrath: I’ve asked for this, what those standards should be.

Ms. Schindler: Restricting access for capacity is a lot of work as well.

 

Question – Ms. Reiter: As a member of Eugene mountain rescue, I know there have been a lot of rescues there. Will anything go in for safety warnings?

Answer – Mr. Kamrath: There has been a discussion of signs, rails, and better access.

Ms. Schindler: We’re going to look at that as part of the environmental assessment.

 

Question – Ms. Dietz: When Ray Rivera was talking about the trail separation last year, I thought that this was going to happen already. I thought it was already started.

Answer – Mr. Kamrath: It’s happening now. Sometimes our district priorities get shifted, and this has been bumped back for various reasons.

Ms. Schindler: We just had a big meeting on this with a big group, but folks are very concerned about this.

 

Question – Mr. Ziller: We had a crowding problem at Terwilliger, basically it was solved by making it a fee area. How close are you to going in that direction?

Answer – Mr. Kamrath: Those discussions are happening. With Terwilliger, it was both fee and a private concessionaire.

Ms. Schindler: It’s also a funding and workload issue.

 

Ms. Albino commented that she came across studies in the 1970s that said that the demand for recreation areas was going to exceed the supply. It is hard because when she was growing up taxes would pay for these things, and now feels like we should be able to access these places. There should be more free recreation access opportunities.

 

Mr. Perkins mentioned that he was watching the travel channel and saw an episode on swimming holes where they talked about Tamolitch.

 

Question – Mr. Hledik: Could an organization like this, take a position on this, would that do anything?

Answer – Ms. Schindler: How would you envision being involved?

 

Mr. Hledik indicated that the Council would need to have a discussion about this. Ms. Schindler mentioned that when they go through the NEPA/EA process, that support and opinions would be helpful. Ms. Semple agreed that when people speak up they are noticed and that she supports the idea of providing a position on this issue.

 

Question – Will Rutherford: The Forest Service has recently sent out at least four different documents for public comment (SF, thinning, etc.) Is the MRRD going to or have they gone public with the plans at Tamolitch?

Answer – Ms. Schindler: We’re not at that point yet, right now we’re still trying to take care of the urgent items, that would be part of the environmental assessment public comment.

 

Mr. Bumstead urged the MRRD to solicit abundant public input because it is such a special place. The MRRD is really going to get a lot of interest in this and hopes they have some real restrictive items.

 

Mr. Fosback commented that dissemination could be challenging with so many people around the world that care about this.

 

Mr. Kretzing mentioned that most of the items in the various phases, when considered individually (phase 1 and 2) are able to proceed quickly without further environmental assessment. But the parking lot requires it. In terms of what we’re talking about in regards to capacity, that should be included in phase 3. In regards to the mountain bike trail, you have an old bed as part of the design—some of that will have to be part of the new trail and should go into phase 3.

 

Mr. Tannenbaum commented that he just got back from Macchu Picchu, and they have very restricted access. Visitors must take a train and a bus for which reservations have to be made in advance. Restricting access to them has not been that big of a deal.

 

Mr. Bumstead agreed with Mr. Kretzing regarding the design for the mountain bike trail.

 

Question – Mr. Stampe: We’re not doing NEPA on the other phases?

Answer – Ms. Schindler: We’re doing NEPA on phases 1 and 2 but it is through a categorical exclusion. Information is available on the website. There’s also a public notice in the mail.

 

Mr. Stampe remarked that if the parking lot size is increased, it will likely increase the number of visitors as a result. Ms. Schindler explained that right now parking is a safety issue. Cars are parking everywhere, in ditches, on the highway and blocking access for emergency vehicles. Further that there will be many assessments completed prior to expanding the parking lot.

 

Mr. Fosback mentioned that the Obsidian trail uses a limited access trail pass. Mr. Kamrath explained that the Obsidian trail is in a Wilderness, not a Recreation Area. Ms. Schindler stated that the MRRD could still limit access, but that an assessment must first be completed.

 

Mr. Bumstead added that he is concerned about the 70 parking spaces that the MRRD should to look at what they are going to allow for capacity and then figure out the number of parking spaces.

 

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