December 2016 Council Meeting Minutes

McKenzie Watershed Council

December 8, 2016
Springfield, Oregon

PRESENT: Council Partners: Mike McDowell (Resident Partner, facilitator), Ralph Perkins (Upper Willamette SWCD), Dave Kretzing (Resident Partner), Randy Hledik (Wildish), Arlene Dietz (Rice Family Farms), Nate Day (McKenzie Schools) Bob Bumstead (McKenzie Flyfishers), Dana Burwell for Steve Mealey (McKenzie River Guides), Brian Brazil (International Paper), Sue Zeni (Resident Partner), Maryanne Reiter (Weyerhaeuser), Dave Ralston (Springfield City Council), Jeff Ziller (ODFW), George Brown (Eugene City Council) Staff: Jennifer Weber, Melanie Giangreco Visitor: Marilyn Cross, McKenzie Clearwater Coalition

ABSENT: Chad Helms, Joe Moll, Karl Morgenstern, Carol Ach (Resident Partner) Diane Albino (Mohawk Watershed Partnership), Mark Shulze (HJ Andrews Experimental Forest), Steve Raymen, Terry Baker (McKenzie River Ranger District), Andy McWilliams (Resident Partner), Rod Fosback (NW Steelheaders), Wade Stampe (Resident Partner), Keir Miller (Lane County)

PROXIES: Ray Rivera for Terry Baker, Carol Ach for Steve Raymen

  1. Introductions and Approval of Agenda
    Mike McDowell, Facilitator
    Action Requested: Approval of agenda
    Agenda approved- all showing consensus level 3.
  2. General Public Comment Session

No comments from public.

  1. Approval of October 2016 Minutes

Called for consensus on approving the October 2016 Council Meeting Minutes.

Arlene Dietz and Maryanne Reiter need to be added to the absent list. Call for consensus as amended. Minutes approved as amended with all showing consensus level 3.

  1. Partner Announcements

Mr. Ralston announced that this would be his last meeting with the Council. He is not sure whom the mayor will appoint to represent the City of Springfield on this Council next year. However, he is still interested in participating as he has houses in the Leaburg area

Mr. Bumstead offered congratulations to the Salmon Watch program. Organization was superb. A lot of staff came out and McKenzie Flyfishers had a lot of volunteers help as well. There was good weather, good groups of kids, and the fish were there. Trips are at Carmen Smith in September, and in November at Whittaker Creek for those interested in being involved next year. McKenzie Flyfishers has some new members and hopes to keep recruiting volunteers.

Mr. Kretzing said he will be meeting with the new Forest Service hydrologist and will be providing background information on flows and water quality.

Mr. Perkins shared that a new person has joined the UWSWCD board and he will meet them on Tuesday. It is exciting to see people filling that need.

Mr. McDowell said that Roseboro is being sold to the Campbell Group (Regional Management Company), which might be an opportunity to try to get someone on board from that organization. Mill was also bought out. Would be great to be able to get representation from that group. The Campbell Group is based in Washington, where more regulations are in place, so it might be easier for them to operate in this area. At Mr. McDowell’s house (near Camp Creek), there were over 13 inches of rain in October.

Mr. Ziller announced that the American Fisheries Society Oregon Chapter meeting in Bend will be February 28th-March 3rd. This year’s theme is “Casting a Broader Net” and will focus on increasing diversity in fisheries work. Waiting to hear on governor’s budget, but hoping to attend. For those who fish on Jan. 1, it is a free fishing day, so you have an extra day to get your 2017 license. There will be six free fishing days throughout the year. Sometimes ODFW will release some extra fish those days, such as brood trout to Cottage Grove pond. Grant out for educational materials through AFS ($1,000). Mr. Ziller has a handout if anyone is interested.

Ms. Reiter announced that Weyerhaeuser gave a $2,000 grant to the Council.

Ms. Dietz reported on the last meeting for the policy advisory group of the Oregon Department of Water Resources regarding their strategic plan. A 7% budget cut is proposed.

Mr. Day is in the process of redesigning the environmental science class and is looking for old flyfishing gear.

Mr. Brown said that this will be his last Council meeting and he is waiting to hear from mayor regarding who will be representing the City of Eugene on the Council. It may be Mr. Brown’s replacement who has a science background, and would be a good match.

  1. Staff Reports

Ms. Weber is filling in for Mr. Demeter, Mr. Six and Mr. Weybright.

Mr. Six recently attended the meeting with ODFW about riparian setbacks. This will be an ongoing process. The meeting was mostly informational and attendees had the opportunity to testify. Comments on the proposed rules are due March 1.

Mr. Weybright is at the Within Our Reach Conference. He is currently working on planning for the upcoming South Fork project. Planning and budget development are underway. It is looking like it will be an approximately one million-dollar project, so significant development work needs to be done. This is related to the prior OWEB technical assistance grant on the South Fork for revetment removal and floodplain reconnection. (Comprehensive project.) He and Ms. Weber have also have been planning for smaller scale planting projects. Ongoing interplantings at existing projects continue. Assessing plant mortality. OWEB site visit on Tuesday to Deer Creek was canceled due to weather. Trying to reschedule for January. Mr. Weybright and all others on staff have been working with Melanie to get information ready for the Annual Report. Working on education lesson plans for data analysis for habitat survey teams. Working on data sets from McKenzie side channel work. Students will work through data analysis formula and compare to ODFW benchmarks. Will also get introduction to GIS. Ms. Weber has been filling in for Mr. Demeter at middle schools while Mr. Demeter has been out at Salmon Watch.

Education report: Just wrapped up Salmon Watch. Several new volunteers helped out this year. 27 new people were recruited. (14 were from high school water quality teams, and those students often report that that is their favorite thing of the year). Thirty-six classes from 15 different schools participated, representing seven districts, and 7,350 student field hours. Sixty-two separate volunteers participated, contributing a total of 840 volunteer hours. There will be a volunteer appreciation event next Tues., Dec. 13th at Bob Bumstead’s house. Details to follow.

Ms. Giangreco’s last Council Meeting is today, but she will continue to do some work from afar until the end of the month.

  1. Presentation: Western Pond Turtles- Christopher Yee ODFW

Life History of Western Pond Turtle: Actinemys marmorata

Mr. Yee is a wildlife biologist at ODFW in Springfield, but has worked all across U.S.

In addition to the Western Pond Turtle, the Western Painted Turtle is other native turtle in this area.

Turtle anatomy: Shell=carapace, platstron=underside of the shell, marginal scutes ring around the outside of the shell, and Western Pond Turtles have 12 on each side (24 total). The plastron is concave on males and flat on females, which facilitates males mounting females. Males have a wider tail. It is easy to differentiate males and females. Males have a white lower throat patch, on while females are mottled/variegated. Cloacal vent posterior of carapace is male, anterior is female. In turtles under five years of age, it is difficult to see the vent and to use it as a distinguishing feature.

Life Stages: Developing ovule, Hatchling, Juvenile, Sub Adult, Adult

Developing ovule- most dangerous stage for the turtle, with most of mortality occurring at this stage. Gravid females in spring store energy through the winter and use it to develop ovules, which develop into eggs within two weeks. An average clutch size is seven eggs, and from mid-May through end of June the female Western Pond Turtle will excavate a nest and deposit eggs. Eggs will remain in the nest chamber for a while, and then become hatchlings. At ten years old, Western Pond Turtles generally start to reproduce, but this varies. During incubation, gender is determined through temperature dependent gender determination. Depredation issues at this point contribute to turtle mortality.

Showed pictures of typical nesting areas. Nests are generally located within 200 meters of aquatic habitat. Turtles will stop digging if they hit too many rocks. Sparsely vegetated is important; with too much vegetation there will not be proper incubation. Misopredators are smaller or mid-sized predators that eat the eggs (fox, coyote, raccoon) and contribute to high nest depredation rates (around 90%). Enough solarization is needed to incubate eggs; slope direction does not matter as long there is sufficient solarization.

Females build nests and deposit eggs. They urinate on the soil where they want to dig using their back legs. They dig out a vase shaped chamber 5-6 inches in size. Urine soaked soil is used to form a plug to seal the top of the nest chamber. You can differentiate species based on the size of the plug used to seal nest. Disturbance is the main attractant to predators, though scent also plays a role and will be detectable even weeks later. 1-2 rain events will destroy nest plugs. Can improve nesting success because disturbance is less obvious.

Temperature Dependent Sex Determination (TSD)

27 C (80.6) or lower= 100% males

29.4 (84.9 F)= 1:1 Male: female

30 C 86 and above= 100% females

The temperature gradient between the top and bottom of the nest chamber results in both male and female offspring in the same chamber unless there are extreme temperature conditions.

Pictures of depredated nests were shown. Hatchlings remain in nests until September.

Red eared slider (invasive species from southeast U.S.) has a larger nest plug, the eggs are more leathery and they roll up when cracked. Red-eared sliders lay their eggs 2-3 weeks earlier than Western Pond turtles, and their habitats are used sympatrically, so habitat has been taken up by the sliders by the time the Western Pond Turtles are ready to lay their eggs. Sliders begin breeding at younger age as well and lay an average of 17 eggs per clutch. Clutch size varies based on the size of the female, and females will double or triple clutch in a year.

Hatchling Age- Turtles are the size of a 50 cent piece or smaller. They emerge in September or March-April depending on elevation. Favor spring emergence evolutionarily, though some do emerge in fall. Fairly dormant in late fall/winter. Depredation is still issue at this stage from ravens, crows, and jays. Coast to spine of Cascades, Mexico through British Colombia is habitat range. Up for ESA listing, will see what happens with that.

Washington has an outbreak of ulcerative cell disease in Western Pond Turtles at the moment.

Hatchlings remain at or within 2 meters of the nest for up to 2 months.

1-3 “stop over” points averaging 11 days at the first point. 3 days at 2nd point. Aquatic movement 2-38 meters. Used study with radio transmitter to track turtles. They were very difficult to find even when radio tracked. Still feeding off yolk sac at this age. Very small home ranges once in aquatic habitat, which is key to management of turtles.

Hatchling habitat- water adjacent to nesting habitat, need dense aquatic vegetation to shelter from predators. Need food at this point because actively growing- eat aquatic vegetation and small invertebrates, tend toward more protein when younger, more vegetation when older. Need basking areas to warm up in morning to be able to forage and digest properly, and to process nutrients and vitamins to maintain immune system. Hatchlings have trouble climbing big logs, and this also exposes them to predation. Need sticks just out of water for hatchling habitat (micro basking structure) often lacking in human managed habitats.

Great Blue Heron is one of primary predators at this stage, so having a little deeper water with basking structures is key. Aquatic vegetation is also good hatchling habitat.

Juvenile (1-3 years)- stay in very small area at this age. Microhabitat is still key at this stage. Similar features to hatchling habitat, but can use larger logs, not as vulnerable because quicker at this age. During winter will burrow under mud and have special capillaries to exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide with the water, so they can stay submerged longer. (Essentially hibernate over the winter.)

Productivity can be observed through growth annuli on plastron (growth rings). There is a birth scute, then another growth annuli each year. Growth seams stay the same size, so annuli become closer together over time. Western Pond Turtles can live up to 40 years. Growth rates slow during reproduction, then speed up again the year following the first year of reproduction. Showed table comparing Western Pond Turtle morphological variables by age class using sample means and sample standard deviations. (Carapace length, width, height, mass, bridge to bridge, annual growth rate). Will publish when have a few more data sets.

Sub adult turtles- non-breeding adults age 4-(7-10) years- still depredation at this age, habitat does not require nesting area nearby, will use larger basking and cover structure, and a more extensive forage area.

Adults very similar habitat needed- foraging site (more herbivorous as turtles get older), basking site, nesting areas for reproduction, shallow water habitat for foraging plants and invertebrates, and a 3-4 m deep area for overwinter hibernation area. Once past 5 years old, less depredation occurs.

Non-native invasive turtles in Oregon:

Common Snapping Turtle: Chelydra serpentina

Red Eared Slider: Trachemys scripta elegans

Do not see snappers as much because they do not bask. Usually only see snappers when the females are going to lay eggs.

Both snappers and red-eared sliders were big turtles in pet trade. Sales of red-eared sliders in Oregon was prohibited in 1996, but not prohibited in WA, so people continue bringing to Oregon. Still see them being sold at flea markets, on craigslist, etc.

Snappers can sever a finger or toe, and weigh sometimes up to 20 lbs. Will eat fish, and more actively hunt at nighttime. Will eat other turtles, but probably do not have as much impact on Western Pond Turtles as do red-eared sliders. Snappers also have good meat.

Red-eared slider has a red mark on the side of the face near the eye. The plastron will stain orange from Eurasian milfoil. Females are larger than males. Tail looks the same on males and females. Forelimbs have shorter claws on males than females. Melanistic varieties turn almost completely black, including the red patch. Counting from neutral scute, the serrated edge is a key identification feature of the red-eared slider.


How do you identify Western Pond Turtles? Scutes stay on for a long time, sometimes their whole life. Sliders have a covering that will shed every year or two. Shiny shell is a Western Pond Turtle that just got out of water, or it is a red-eared slider. Sliders are much larger than Western Pond Turtles.

How to get rid of invasive turtles? Trap with water based trap and corral land based trap. Do kill them. Looked at sending them back to the Eastern U.S., but there was concern about algae or something else that could destroy other populations. Inject with double drug- relaxes them, then decapitate and pith brain. Brain lives for several hours to a day. Uses American Veterinary Association’s humane standards for euthanasia. Went to do necropsy and hearts were still beating a day later after being decapitated.

How did scientists learn about capillaries that allow oxygen and carbon dioxide exchange under water? Study and observation. Blood vessels with very thin skin, rather than gills like fish. Do not need much oxygen because metabolism drops during hibernation.

Significance of study? Larger vs. older turtles- which produces more eggs? Hypothesis based on productivity of site based on habitat for juveniles and hatchlings.

Top 3 causes of Western Pond Turtle decline: 1) Habitat loss (channelizing of river system), 2) Lack of connectivity among populations. Populations are fragmented, which is not helping overall population and makes turtles more susceptible to disease outbreak and climate change (already seeing problems with this with sea turtles), 3) People shooting turtles and kids killing turtles in certain areas.

Any habitat with fewer invasive turtles? Less sliders at higher elevations, because they do not like colder water. (This is why only in McKenzie in areas where people have transported them).

Normal nest is 7 eggs, but how many survive- .1% survive to breeding age.

Not sure for how many years they reproduce- theory is that they reproduce until old age at 40 years.

How many days to have sex determination? Critical stage of development to determine male female depends on how quickly eggs develop. This is true of lizards and snakes as well (most other reptiles).

How far up the McKenzie is the Western Pond Turtle range? Almost to headwaters. Will swim in McKenzie. Generalists in terms of habitat (stagnant vs moving water) and move seasonally depending on resources.

  1. Executive Committee Appointments

Executive Committee Appointments- at last meeting there was discussion about whether or not Mr. Stampe and Ms. Dietz wanted to be appointed. Both are interested in being reappointed.

Call for consensus on reappointing both Mr. Stampe and Ms. Dietz to the Executive Committee. Appointments were approved with all showing consensus level 3.

Meeting adjourned at 6:30 p.m.

Next meeting: January 12, 2017, at Springfield Utility Board (SUB)