Monday, December 7, 2009

Stream Surveying

In the summer of 1992, I worked as a stream surveyor for the Umpqua District of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in Oregon. My job consisted of me and my partner, Russ England, walking up the tributaries of the south fork of the Umpqua River. Russ and I would drive the beat up Chevy truck to a main tributary, or "trib," and began quantifying different aspects of the trib. Length, type, width, depth, slope, heading- all recorded to analyze salmon habitats. We would run into black bear, deer, a spotted owl or two, and ton of banana slugs who would magically attach themselves to you when you sat down anywhere in the woods.

After a few feet walking up a trib, Russ and I disappeared from civilization for 8 hours. We heard no cars, no planes. We seldom got back to the truck for lunch, and frequently ate copious wild blackberries instead. We never felt that summer's 100+ temperatures, because the water was cold and clear. It would press against the waders like big cold hands on your legs. I was stung by several insects (nearly dying one time, in fact), constantly covered in stinging nettle and poison this-or-that, and nearly detonated a booby trap set by gun-toting marijuana farmers. Small prices to pay for a chance to walk in virgin forests.

The only drawback was a painful look at clearcut forests. I felt like an Ent in Lord of the Rings. Those trees were my friends!

I wonder what Russ is doing now?

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