Monday, February 7, 2011

A Genesis story about salmon, from a person with self-diagnosed A.D.D.

I was over skipping through the bogs the other day, when I ran across a post about the salmon disappearing from the creeks. I do that a lot because I find blog posts to be interesting, and they pique my interest. There was this post about a fellow that was wading in a creek and came to the amazing (To me only) conclusion that the fish were gone, and.... it was the loggers fault. I don’t find it amazing that the fish were gone, only that it is almost the unanimous conclusion that anything that happen in the Eel river was, yep, the “loggers fault”. Not one word about the two floods was mentioned. At least he didn't blame the two floods on "Those Damn Loggers" as most do.

As I am wont to do. I started to wonder why everything was the loggers fault, and I started thinking about how lucky some people are that they can reach a simple conclusion and be completely satisfied with it. Myself? it makes me wonder, “What is a fish anyway?”. Where did it come from? Why does it come up the river 60 miles or so, find the clean clear headwaters of a nice fresh water creek, dig a hole in a gravel lined riffle, not too coarse a gravel, and not too fine, but just right, spawn it’s eggs and die. I get to wondering about, “why don’t they just spawn on the beach like surf-fish?” They wouldn’t have to die, but just turn back around and swim away. Then I thought that maybe they don’t like surf-fish, and their sense of modesty prevents then from displaying their most intimate moment in front of another species. I started to wonder if the “mate” in inti“mate” has anything to do with fish modesty. But, then I get back to my subject, which was why do salmon spawn in the creeks. Then I started to wonder if they didn’t like surf-fish because they are prejudiced. Are salmon really that sophisticated?

Maybe the salmon just like the thrill of swimming up a raging muddy torrent, clear up to the point that it is impossible to swim any further upstream, in a self imposed endurance test to prove their self-worth. Only the strong and lucky ones get to spawn and die. They say nothing is so alive as those that are about to die. It must be a proud final moment for them, just before they die, knowing that they are going to be the parents of all of the future of salmonkind. Their fry will head back to sea to feed, fatten, and prosper, and become the next generation to spawn and die. Only the fittest will pass on their seed. Wow! Maybe all the trash in the river is breeding a strong species of salmon. Maybe the pseudo-environmentalist will recognize this new specie of Eel River Salmon and call it the “Logger Hardy Eel River Anadromous Salmon fish“. Logging will have to be protected to keep the fish healthy and thriving. Wouldn’t that be a wonderful world? I know that I logged enough lumber to build a couple of thousand Hippie Houses, and I didn’t even get even a thank-you. Maybe if people knew that fish needed a little adversity they would worry less.

I use the term “Mother Nature” a lot when I talk about this world that we live in. Some people just attribute everything to “God”, that way they don’t have to think about it. Great for them, they can stick to their mono-focus. Unfortunately for me, I over-thought the God issue at the tender young age of 8 years old. I came to the conclusion that the existence of God is un-provable, so in my mind I concluded to take a wait-and-see attitude. I also know that the term I use, “Mother Nature”, is also not a real person, but I can use that term without upsetting the mono-focus of the truly devout religious folks.

Back to salmon, I worry a lot about the streams, and the salmon habitat. It’s not that I am not concerned for the fish, I am, but I have to think it all the way through. That means that I have to start at the beginning. Let’s just jump way ahead, to save you folks a bunch of reading. I have this theory that all life started out as a single celled animal, then evolution “complicated the hell out of things”. I think that was a line form a Harrison Ford movie about when his character fell in love. Okay, let me wander back to salmon. Lets move up to the point where “then there were fish”, the land masses hadn’t really formed yet. Fish made-whoopie and had babies, maybe right there in the ocean, or maybe they spontaneously gave virgin-birth like the Bible says that Mary did. Some reptiles still give virgin-birth today. Many species of lizards will give virgin birth if they don’t have access to a male. My mind went through a ton of digressions right there, I hope that I wasn’t too obvious…

Anyway, at some point the land masses pushed their way up out of the seafloor. They moved around on the molten magma below, they rammed into each other and even forced their way under each other in massive slow-motion collisions. It helps a lot if you try to see this as a natural progression, and not just; “Then there was land”. Hey, I’m getting closer to my point here, Okay?

As the land pushed up from old sea floor, the rain and wind washed it back into the sea. The north coast is young and tender, as far as land masses are concerned. The north coast is only 5 to 10 million years old. In fact the whole area west of about -the Grand Canyon- is about that same age. Redwoods are at least 100 million years old as a specie. Redwoods are in the cypress family, which has a tendency to grow in swamps, maybe that’s why they seem to need lots of water. I would tell you about how Redwoods grew all over the world at one time, but that would be distracting from the salmon story. But, the redwoods existed with the dinosaurs, yet no dinosaur ever wandered the North Coast. Dinosaurs went extinct about 65 million years ago, during the end of the Cretaceous period, unless you count “birds” which  evolved from dinosaurs. Anyway, California lifted out of the sea 5- 10 million years ago, it didn’t happen “Bam” like Chef Whatsisname says. But, it was a 5 million year process, and it is still happening today. That’s how the redwood trees grew onto California after the dinosaurs became extinct. Redwoods became extinct throughout the whole rest of the world after the redwoods covered California. I‘ve often wondered, “what is unique about the north coast of California that the whole rest of the world doesn’t have?” Well, it has a land mass over a subduction zone, which means that a tectonic plate is pushing under the redwood zone, called the north coast, home of the redwoods. That insidious rape of our land mass by a sea-born land mass is what is pushing the redwood land up out of the sea. The tender young land mass, previously sand and mud, is softly formed and highly erosive, Thank-“God” for that! I mean, “Mother Nature“, or “evolution“. Can land masses evolve? When they erode is it called “devolve”? So, back to the salmon. But, you can’t go back to the salmon without talking about the redwoods first. The redwoods thrive in soft, silty, flood plains. They thrive in the loose nutrients that is highly nutritious to their root systems. They even thrive on the loose sandstone hillsides. Wherever redwoods grow, sandstone, or youngly lifted seafloor is not far underneath. Caviar for the redwoods, YUM! And the silt is creme' brulee!

Start a new paragraph here. I was getting tired of that last one. It would have probably saved me a whole bunch of thinking to have just figured out that, when the redwoods disappeared all over the whole world, that it was probably those “damn loggers”, and not the fact that the north coast of California was the last place in the whole wide world that redwoods can grow, that it had wet winters, and young uplifted soils filled with redwood yummies.

When I was a young lad, I was highly motivated to play geologist, along with my cousin “Oregon”, who owned the only geology pick between us. So if we didn’t go “fossil hunting” together, I didn’t get to pick fossils, so he was a valuable companion. I often miss the days when a kid could spend all day in the creeks and hills fossil hunting. I bet that’s why I was able to stay off drugs. But, then the back-to-the-land people showed up, along with their fences and “NO TRESSPASSING” signs. It kinda’ belied the “Back to the land” thing, because it drove the kids out of the “land”. Tis a pity, such a loss.

When we went fossil hunting, we would emulate people like Monroe Tobin, who back in the early 1900s found a whale fossil and showed a couple of famous archaeologists the bones. The geologists stayed at the Tobin Hotel in Garberville and just happened to ask the Tobin kid, jokingly, if he knew about any good fossil grounds. He did! As did most kids that grew up around here. They thanked him for the “find” and they always took him on fossil hunts with them. My cousin and I figured that if we could find a unique fossil, we could, maybe, be invited to tag along with a couple of famous geologists. Anyway, that was our goal, to become world famous fossil discoverers. My cousin and I did find Tobin’s whale bones. Sadly, they are buried beneath the freeway, just below the town of Garberville. Just across from the town sewer-pond.

All this leads me up to telling you how I know a little bit about the geology of the north coast. As we searched for “fossil grounds” we would find evidence of a great Eel River flood, much more serious than the ‘64 flood. There was a flood plain at the level of the Garberville flat, the one that the town is built on. That same flat is at the level of the Garberville airport, the town of Redway, the conservation camp and so on. There is a small ledge of river gravel just above my house in Benbow, on the exact same plain as the rest. The plain can even be found to be evident on the west side of Richardson Grove. I don’t know how the redwoods in Richardson Grove fit into this story, but on that same flood plain, there is an uprooted redwood tree, that has THREE layers of roots that were caused by at least two major floods, sometime in that redwoods life span. I’m not going to pretend to explain how the tree was flooded two times and formed three different roots systems, but I do enjoy knowing that it has to be a fact that it happened! It is well above the “normal” ‘64 flood plane of the river. In our 8-12 year old brains we decided that, that flat had to have been caused by the seafloor uplifting to the point that it backed the river up to that level for thousands of years, then slowly washed back out to sea. Remember, just recently, with-in our life spans, we had an earthquake on the north coast that lifted Kings Peak 16 inches higher, and the seafloor at Petrolia lifted 4 feet out of the seabed. I saw it myself, with my very own eyes. The earthquake was so strong that it bounced a D-8 Caterpillar Tractor off of the ground and moved it sideways three times. It was declared the most violent upward thrust ever recorded. Back to the Flood plain. We wondered how the salmon could possibly have lived through such an utterly devastating flood. See, I told you that this is a “salmon story“. It’s amazing how things can come to a person's mind if they don’t attribute everything to God, or “those damn loggers”. There have been hundreds of floods, and hundreds of  upheavals on the north coast since the beginning of the California North Coast. I can only hope that someday it will all fit together, for all of us, that ALL of life and nature is precious, and it all fits together. You shouldn't protect just one thing, but be cognisant of all of nature.

If you have been able to follow these ramblings of an obviously Attention Deficit Disorder sufferer, you might find that I don’t really consider thinking about EVERYTHING as a disorder, but I find it greatly entertaining, and in the end I hope that my mind never closes to anything, and I’m not likely to pass off the ecology of the north coast as the fault of “Those Damn Loggers”.

67 comments:

kymkemp.com said...

Ernie,

The loss of fish is not all the loggers fault; there are a lot of other factors. But just as today there are those who grow marijuana in environmentally unsound ways so too were there loggers who left entire hillsides denuded. There were many factors involved in the loss of the fish. Bad logging practices contributed. That doesn't mean that loggers were bad people. In fact, their love of the land is legendary. But ignoring where they contributed to environmental problems today isn't going to help us figure out how to deal with tomorrow.

Ernie Branscomb said...

Kym
You know that I agree with you, but you also know that I can’t resist a little hyperbole. Especially when it is true that the average logger didn’t know that they were hurting anything back in the ’50s. The salmon runs seemed endless. Plus, you and I both know that the geology has made many, many major shifts. Who really knows? Possibly the fish runs wax and wane once every thousand years or so… There is plenty of evidence to say that, if a person can just look beyond it being the loggers fault for a little bit.

spyrock said...

ernie's right. its not the loggers fault that there are no more salmon. but it is the loggers fault that the et is the best place in the world to grow emerald gold, the forest used to be so thick that nothing except ferns would grow down there below the 3000 year old redwoods. thanks to the loggers, thinning the redwoods out, plenty of sunshine gets down to ground that hasn't seen sunshine for millions of years, thus producing the perfect conditions in virgin soil to grow the most unbelievable strains of the mendo kush. the newcomers owe the loggers a great deal of thanks, at least a pitcher of beer at the local saloon for creating the perfect conditions for them to grow their crop. if it weren't for the loggers, those newecomers would have had to move back to the city they came from when their food stamps ran out long ago.

spyrock said...

any fool can raise salmon if you buy your own river or creek and simulate some spawning grounds upstream. the reason there aren't any salmon is because there are so many other priorities that probably have a negative effect on the possibility of spawning. but in no way is logging to blame by itself. its just one of the usual suspects.

Bunny said...

Ernie, One trait we Aries share is being defensive. You can't help it. I'm so glad I had those early 1970's years in Phillipsville at the Sawblade Tavern. Many loggers and many pitchers of beer. That was my first job here, bartending. Every few years I see Whit Lewis but I would love to see Mel Byrd again. Everyone else is dead. I've got some stories.............

Ernie Branscomb said...

Bunny
The sad thing about most of the logger stories that I, and probably you know about, is that they can't be told in polite company. But they are sure fun to recall every now and then. I understand Mel lives over in the gold country.

Bunny said...

oh I think you have better stories than I do then. Mine usually happened among mixed company and except for embarrassing certain bloggers we know could be told. I want to hear some of those some day.

Ekovox said...

"...I logged enough lumber to build a couple of thousand Hippie Houses, and I didn’t even get even a thank-you."

Ernie, that is the quote of the century. I want to have that made into a bumper sticker!

Anonymous said...

The quote of the last century
"Move to Humboldt, Mendocino or Trinity counties, 100,000 hippies can't be wrong."

Oregon

Ekovox said...

Oregon, you know as well as I do, that the Emerald Triangle is where Hippies come to die. Kind of like whales beaching themselves.

"Group beaching is believed to be as a result of a "follow the leader" type of scenario where the leader unfortunately is confused, or when pod members respond to a distress call"

Sounds about right.

Anonymous said...

Yep, sounds about right to me too eko.

Oren

skippy said...

This was a great read, Ernie. Fascinating in many ways. Far better than science class or any tourist brochure I've had describing our trees and geology. Loggers, salmon, fossils, history, dinosaurs, Harrison Ford, Hippie Houses, millions and millions of years and the virgin birth. Whew! I mean, who else could've meshed our silt and sandstone mingling with the caviar and creme brulee? That was a nice touch. My ADD is feeling much better now, thank you. Excuse me, Ernie, I need to go; I'm getting tired of this paragraph and need to start a new one.

Whew! This really was quite the roller coaster ride through eons and eons of time. And billions and billions of stars.

Johnathan Wilson said...

What a great read Ernie! I certainly believe the loggers deserve a thank you.

Also in the white rock and rattlesnake creeks, before I was born my dad used to tell me that the fishing was absolutely awesome, my grandpa Don and him would go down the creek and often come back with large 2 digits or even 3 digits of fish. Nowadays when I go down fishing i bust my butt and am lucky to get more than 5. The log debris just made a great habitat for the fish and when it finally washed away the fish just never had any habitat.

spyrock said...

man, i like this john wilson dude. he sounds like he's imfected with the spyrock fever like me. we and happy larry. maybe the wilsons knew the simmerlys. probably.

olmanriver said...

Ernie, give yourself some credit...this post is a fine example of a stream of consciousness, not the symptom of ADD. A stream of conciousness is a writing style, a gift, you don't have a mental disorder, you are a creative artist.
I learned a bunch, loved following the geology lesson. Didn't know that we lived on a such a newcomer of a geologic formation. ...

And no dinosaurs in the redwoods... never thunk about that one, but now I have. Thanks. What kind of critters did live in ancient redwoods, professor?

I used to live nearby the Florissant fossil beds in Colorado, it is a huge preserve of fossils, but what used to send me into contemplation were the fossilized sequoia stumps from 30 million years ago or so. The largest one was 41 feet around.

I have been up and down the redwood highway these past weeks, feeling so lucky to have this remnant of the old forest nearby.

Fun post Ernie.

spyrock said...

you sound like one of the old peeps.

Ernie Branscomb said...

"The log debris just made a great habitat for the fish and when it finally washed away the fish just never had any habitat."

The log jambs and debris in the creeks was excellent habitat. When I was a kid, the log jams were where I would fish. Just hooks line and willow stick, I would catch grasshoppers or dig worms for bait.

I went fishing in Rattlesnake creek with my grandmother Ruby. We caught what I thought was a nice bunch of small fish, but she said that is was nothing like it used to be when she was a kid.

Ernie Branscomb said...

I ran into Olmanriver today. You may have noticed that he hasn't been blogging as much. He has been very busy with blatant acts of kindness.

I have often said that the best stories are ones that can never be told. This is one of them. Olmanriver's acts of kindness has him way up there in my hero class. He is an unsung hero. If karma really works OMR has a lot of good fortune coming his way.

Just had to say it! Even if nobody knows what I'm talking about.

Robin Shelley said...

OMaR,
I don't know what this world is coming to. Oregon has moved to Washington & now I'm told that Utah has moved to Portland.
):

Robin Shelley said...

And Ernie thinks people don't know what HE's talking about - LOL!

Joe said...

An interesting post, Ernie. Thanks for writing down your thoughts. I don't know whether all children have deep thoughts about the sort of cosmic issues you mention, but I recall some of mine, from nearly 70 years ago, growing up near Panther Gap. And the topic of some of those thoughts is relevant to this discussion. I was taught about God and sin and hell, and all like that. It was not too surprising that personal responsibility was on my mind. I wondered, quite often, and sometimes obsessively, how far my responsibility went with regard to the consequences of my actions. So, would it be a sin, resulting burning eternally in hell fire, if I talked to someone and that delayed them such that the timing was right for a tree to fall on them (or something)? If I did something perfectly innocent that caused a bad outcome somewhere down the line, was I to blame? So, I was concerned about how much I needed to think about the consequences of my actions. I think I concluded that "a just and loving God" would not send me to hell for something I could not have predicted. At the same time, I was pretty sure that if something I did innocently resulted in a terrible accident, the victim would still be dead. Over the years, even while I was a "believer," I saw hell as much less relevant to life choices and ethical and moral behavior. So how does this relate to logging and salmon? Are we to condemn ALL loggers to a figurative hell? Are we going to deny that logging had an impact on anadromous fish populations?

Ernie Branscomb said...

Joe
First, It's good to hear from you again. Next, "Lord forgive them for they know not what they do".

Like I said, I don't think that the loggers really worried that much about the fish. Nothing much seemed to hurt the runs that much. Most people thought that they were simply being over-fished.

My other point is, that the fish have suffered far, far worse erosion than the loggers caused. Many, many times Mother Nature has turned the Eel River upside down with mud and dirt.

Mankind has not been kind to Mother Nature either. The thing that worries me the most is that I don't think mankind has within it's basic capacity to worry about THEIR impact on nature. It seems to be that they want to lecture somebody else on their faults, but refuse to accept their own. In example the back-to-the-land group that moved up here and endlessly condemn the logger, also the logging roads and the erosion that they caused. But they refuse to look at all of the tons, and tons, and tons of fertilizer that they have hauled onto the north coast, that they use once and dump out. All of that goes into the river. Nor the fact that they are keeping open the old logging roads that were intended to heal.

In fairness, I am starting to hear a few words of condemnation in the grower community about the “greedy” grower, that doesn’t care about what they are doing to the land. The thought crosses my mind that it is a complete societal problem that we are all guilty of. When a person smokes a joint, they are tacitly agreeing with what the grower has done to nature, and to a lesser extent, any merchant that depends on the grower-dollar is guilty of what is happening to our hills.

The logger only put good clean soils and gravel into the river. The Back-to-the-lander/environmentalist/grower is putting fuels, oils and chemicals into the streams. Far worse pollution than even the loggers could have done. The good news is the outcry is starting. Just as the loggers adopted a “Logging Practices Act”. it is timely that the grower adopt a “Growing Practices Act”.

Now that the tables have turned, and the loggers have nothing to do, and no work, maybe they should start their own environmental movement and make the growers clean up their act. What’s good for the goose….

Joe said...

"I'm just a country boy trying to get along," my Dad used to say. As I've mentioned before, he grew up and homesteaded in Humboldt County and went through The Great Depression there. He was a stone mason, subsistence hunter, wool grower (and buyer), cowboy, horseman, roustabout, and an all around survivor. A lot of people I knew in Humboldt while I was growing up there, and later, during the times I lived there, had to do many different things to survive. Some people were loggers. Some people were growers. Some people were ranchers or fishermen. Some people did whatever it took to survive, whether it was legal or not. Increasingly, in my experience, otherwise law abiding citizens passively tolerated, or even actively supported, illegal activities--to the point that the county became economically dependent on a culture of crime. As much as I love the land, I do not think overgeneralizing blame to all loggers or all growers really gets us anywhere except further polarized. I do think that people who live considerate and constructive lives are more worthy of our respect, admiration, and support, than those who will cheat and live lawless lives out of greed and opportunism. Those who engage in illegal activities and then expect others not to do so don't have a leg to stand on.

spyrock said...

i think i know how ernie feels about this as he has been consistent in telling about it for quite some time.
all the so called hippies where i live in the big flat desert called the san joaquin moved away in the early 70's. some i know moved up your way. it's very difficult growing pot out in the open without getting caught so the main drug in the valley since the 70's has been crank. at first, the bikers were the ones who controlled meth and they had these meth labs which were toxic waste sites where they made the stuff. you couldn't be a biker unless you did crank because they wouldn't trust you if you refused. they would bring out the buck knife and everyone would have to snort a few lines. now don't get offended if you ride a motorcycle and don't do crank, you may think you are a biker but to me you don't qualify.
of course, as time went by, these bikers started dying off or wound up in prison. eventually, the mexican mafia took over the crank trade and they are still pretty much in control and spreading out all over the united states. i went though a period in my life where i hated cranksters and felt like ernie does about the growers. i still would much rather be around someone smoking pot than anyone doing crank. but i've learned not to judge cranksters anymore. i have a lot of compassion for them. i just know from experience that it could be a lot worse for your streams and rivers up there with waste from a thousand meth labs flowing into them. there wouldn't be any fish surviving in them at all for you to catch and you wouldn't dare eat one anyway. so be careful, you might get what you are wishing for.

Anonymous said...

My uncle told me, Those Log truck drivers up around Garberville were doing "something" like "crank" back in the Fifties.

Fred Evans would have known.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, they called it coffee.

charlie two crows said...

Everyone has talked about the causes to the river and fish, both anti and pro logging. Pro drugs of all types and anti drugs and all that death that has come to the eel from all of the above. One of the major killers of the eel river and it fish has been a little talked about chemical called NOXTAIN. Redwood sawmills used this poison for forty years. The grader on the plainer chain would spray noxtain onthe redwood so it wouldn't water spot. The rest would go on the ground and into the river when the rains came. There were about 40 chemicals companies manufacturing products similar to the brand name NOXTAIN. All of these were made with two deadly PCB's. In years later when the fishing declined water samples found noxtain and its brothers up and down the river and in the bay. The PCB's like to lay in the river bottom under dead leaves and under silt where the fish try to lay there eggs. My thought is this poison fish killer had nothing to do directly with logging or drugs. I don't want to sound like I'm on some soap box. I was a logging mechanic for thirty years and I'm ultra conservative. But I will do everything to save the river. Just another to look at how it all happened!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Charlie, Noxtain was used on all species of wood, not just redwood.

Oregon

charlie two crows said...

Oregon....True Noxtain was used on other species of lumber. I centered my story on redwood, because forty years ago there were so many redwood mills and resaw operations within a shout of the EEl or one of its tributaries. The fact that you know it was being used on other species just reinforces my claim of extensive usage. While attending college. I worked in a small mill and part of my job was to unload the barrels of Noxtain. All the directions and correct usage were right on the barrel. I presume I was the only person there that could (READ)!

Ernie Branscomb said...

I knew some truckers that took pills to stay awake, but they had prescriptions back then, and they bought them at the drugstores. They called them "diet pills". I'm not sure what they were, but they were sure popular, and apparently addictive.

I know a fellow that got some diet pills because he actually wanted to lose some weight. He said he took one and didn't sleep for two days. He said "That was enough of that!"

Two crows
I think most of us feel strongly about protecting the river. I wonder how many chemicals wash of the streets and highways. I wonder what anti-freeze does to the river. I really don't know, but I know that it will kill any critter that tries to sip it.

two crows said...

Ernie...... Back in the day it was called white cross. You could buy it in any truck stop.

olmanriver said...

Good info Charlie... and that didn't even get into the gallons of petroleum products used on roads, or tonnage of pesticide use. Nor am I. Someone once posted the quantities of these products used on Heraldo's but I didn't save the link. It was eye-opening. And that is just how things were done in the age of "Better living through chemicals".

It is more important to look ahead out than keep our eyes fixed on the little rear-view mirror of what happened. We are in the therapy phase of the post logging boom. All those folks who are helping with the health of the tributaries in Salmon Creek, and the Mattole, and all the places where stream restoration is occuring get my applause.

I had a glorious Saturday taking my kayak out on the Southfork, my friend saw 12-15 Steelhead?, I saw a group of four big uns. That was just icing on the cake of a fine day paddling around, counting reflective sun sparkles, and soaking up the sun, with his beaglet perched precariously on the prow of my kayak like a noble maidenhead.

I enjoyed the geology lesson, I don't have to agree with Ernie to appreciate his writing or learn something... even if I sound like an ol' peep. (Is this a rooster who has lost his crow?).

ps..Loved Joe's fine nuanced perspective...as usual.

Anonymous said...

Cross Tops,with benzedrine,or Bennys. Sometimes you needed Ben to help you out.

Anonymous said...

I believe this stuff started In WW2,to keep the long range Bomber Flyers awake?

Anonymous said...

You haven't done much Truckin', if ya haven't takin' a few pills.

olmanriver said...

"During World War II, amphetamine was widely used to keep the fighting men going and both dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine®) and methamphetamine (Methedrine®) were readily available."
m This link makes it sound like they were easily available until 1965. After that blackmarket.

charlie two crows said...

In the desert where I live we have mormon grass. Make a gt. Of tea and you won't sleep for three days. Its euphedra (speed). My dad bought NO-DOZE packets at the 76 truck stop in eureka back in the day. Today my drug of choice is monster or rockstar.

Anonymous said...

What about all the flouride that is getting into the water? It's not just put into the water supply and toothpaste, it's everywhere.

Oregon

P.S. The verification word is "uppers". LOL

Joe said...

So, I think we can't blame "loggers," in general, for the loss of fish populations, or even "logging," in general. At the same time, it is very clear that some logging practices that were once common contributed in causal ways to fish declines. Not as the only cause, but in interaction with geological, climatic, and other variables. Bull Creek is a great example, and those of you who know the story of what happened there will know what I mean. But, y'know, most of the fish were already gone from Bull Creek before the 1955 and 1964 floods. The Bear River Lumber Company mill was built in the creek bed, and the pond and cold deck and burners were all right there. By the late 1940s we knew there was no point fishing in Bull Creek either below or above the mill. I did, however, catch my first little trout up in a tiny tributary to Bull Creek, so there were a few places where fish survived. So, do we fault the loggers? I think most were pretty desperate for work. It is hard to imagine that whoever planned that mill (and others) believed what they were doing would have no impact on fish populations. It is much easier to believe, right or wrong, that they simply did not care. At some level, I think there was (and continues to be), an unfortunate belief that we need not plan for the long term. After all, some say, "Jesus is coming soon to take us all away to paradise, so what does it matter what we do to our streams?" That message is a pretty old one, and it has been believed by many people through the entire period during which people of European origin have settled the Eel River watershed. That belief has not helped.

Ernie Branscomb said...

I agree with Joe about Bull Creek. Lumbering contributed greatly to the decline of the fish population. But, also, Bull Creek had major soft soil and sliding problems.

What Joe said about sawmills being built right IN the creeks was right. They needed water for their log ponds. However, there where 3 sawmills built in Sprowel Creek. The creek was one of the major spawning creeks in Humboldt, AND, It continued to be all during the logging, AND, it continues to be a major spawning stream yet today.

"All those folks who are helping with the health of the tributaries in Salmon Creek, and the Mattole, and all the places where stream restoration is occuring get my applause."

I completely understand your feelings, however those well meaning people should take a Hippocratic oath before they start. (If you can do no good, at least do no harm) It’s not good enough to love the fish and the streams. It takes knowing how they work. After the ‘64 flood the well meaning folk removed the log jams, against the screams of protest from the Old-Time residents. Any country kid knew that those log-jam ponds were good deep-water pooling and protection from predators. The deep pools kept the stream bed cool and caused turbulence at high-water that moves the mud and silt downstream, while moving the gravel around and cleaning it. The ONE thing that they did right was replant the river bed with shade and bank stability.

olmanriver said...

I have heard you say this before Ernie... it would be the scientists with Fish and Game who were behind the removal of those post flood log jams?
Current stream restoration is a great uniting activity for old time locals and newcomers.
I put part of an interview on Kym's blog from one of the last of the old ranchers, a Mrs. Ticky Early. She described how the enormous volume of water destroyed the upper tributaries of Salmon Creek during those floods, virtually ending the trout fishing in the upper reaches. I don't think any logging practices can be blamed for this erosion, just lotsa water. Just like with the virgin hillsides that slid into the Eel, without logging destabilization, that you have mentioned Ernie.
Like Joe said, it is important to differentiate between logging practices and loggers. That depersonalizes the conversation...theoretically. Most hard working men are just trying to feed their families, and has been mentioned, thought for the future in a resource extraction industry is often lacking...as short term profits are the goal.

I know of an older newcomer who cut down a multi-hundred year old fir that was healthy just because it might fall on the unpermitted house he ended up never building on the flood plain. I remember when landowners took down some old redwoods in lower Redway and caused a storm, and new regulations. I just heard about a newcomer indoor grower cutting down large cedars for no good reason. We have so few of the larger trees left, I get more upset about recent events than what happened decades ago.
Ernie, a question, were those Sproul* Creek mills milling redwood?
I know you did some work in those parts.


* I have facetiously blamed newcomers for changing the Sproul brothers name spelling to Sprowel, but they are off the hook. On an 1886 map I recently acquired, the spelling is Sprowl. Sorry newcomers.

Joe said...

Thirty plus years ago when we were in the Mattole, we found that everyone agreed on only one thing--there should be more fish in the river. That became a uniting and rallying point for constructive cooperative action in the Mattole. Of course, many interpersonal and intercultural barriers to progress remained, but an early activity involved local people with funding from BLM and Fish & Game doing detailed, objective, spawning habitat surveys and evaluation of barriers, such as log jams. It was appreciated that some log jams needed to be removed, others left alone, and still others just altered, and that other structures (e.g., gabions, etc.) were needed in some cases. Local loggers often provided the heavy equipment needed for the work. Cooperation is possible. What has to happen, thouugh, is that people need to find ways of getting along with and respecting each other, and not resort to generalized blaming.

charlie two crows said...

Hey joe...you said 30plus you were on the mattole doing habitat restoration. What ever work you did was in vain. In the winters of 76 and 77 I was up on the lease fields on the Braid. Shell oil was drilling three wells and the winter of 76 it rained 100 ins. At the mouth of the mattole. The drill mud pits would have blow outs and the mud would race down Braid to the mattlole thousands of gallons at a time. Never saw fish n game or BLM. Do you know what chemicals are in that drill mud? We even fracked some wells that craps real deadly. I'm sure you and your friends are proud of your work on the mattole. But right under your nose the oil companys were killing the mattole. And it had (nothing to do with logging). I can't help it if I know where the dead bodys are buried!!!!

spyrock said...

denial is a river in egypt. you dudes have no idea of what i'm talkin' about. talk about stuck in the 60's. y'all live in a parallel universe. i'm not talkin about starbuck drive thrus for truckers. i'm talkin about 5 pounds of toxic waste per one pound of crank added to what's already gone into your rivers and creeks. no one is talking about diet pills, white cross, bennys, nodoze, monster, rockstar or carmel freakin machiatta or even pseudofredrick that you take orally. i'm a talkin about injecting, snorting, or smoking crank or meth. go watch a movie called winterbone when it comes out on dvd. what you got up your way is springbone. get rid of the springbone people and ewell houser end up with winterbone people.

Ekovox said...

"carmel freakin machiatta" Yum!

Spyrock, you're speaking my language. SoHum needs a Starbucks! That service station mocha latte machine pump crap, while giving you a righteous buzz is not fit for human consumption. Ok...just one more cup.

Oh, and while I'm at it....Loggers are to blame for the destruction of the South American rainforests to put in coffee plantations to fuel their habit. Ah Hell, loggers are to blame for Pete Rose betting on baseball, the crash of the Hindenburg and Janet Jackson's wardrobe mishap,too.

two crows said...

Yeah, I'm all wrong! DUDE! Somebody needs to lay off the PAPER BAG!!!!!

Ernie Branscomb said...

Two Crows is right, read up on "Fracking"

Hydralic Fracturing of gas wells

Ernie Branscomb said...

Hydralic Fracturing of natural gas wells

Ernie Branscomb said...

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydraulic_fracturing (Try cut and paste) having some computer problems here.

spyrock said...

i wasn't talking about fracking or blaming the loggers. i'm sure mr two crows knows what went down back then. about dumping oil in the rivers. people used to dump all kinds of stuff into the ground in the old days. the chemicals in jet fuel got into our water supply and they spent years trying to clean it up when the base closed. there is no way you can judge people who lived in another time by todays standards. new rules now. back then it was different rules. new rules goes for raising fish too. there's new technology out there for creating habitat. its just not a big priority right now. the only people hurting are the fishermen who catch a lot less fish than they did in the olden days. i've been raising fish for 30 plus years. i've probably killed more of my fish myself than by predators or any other reason. one time, i think it was some kind of oil based product that had soaked into some plywood that i put on my pond to keep the herons from eating the fish. i lost about 50 big koi that time including the one i liked the best. i just raised some more and it wasn't long before my pond was maxed out. so i stocked 2 ponds last fall with 20 koi each and i'm going to put some more in a pond some people are having a wedding near next summer. its more likely that in the future fish will be raised in stock tanks and there won't be much out there in the wild. sort of like you can't have your cake and eat it too. there will be a lot more private ponds where you have to pay for each fish you catch.

Anonymous said...

Spy, they use formaldehyde in the manufacture of plywood. That is why it is illegal to burn it in Oregon, and maybe other states as well.

Oregon

two crows said...

Ernies Blog is about south fork history and its preservation. We have talked about the destruction of a river and a way of life that includes the torrid past, the complicated present. And the controversial future. When we look at pictures of destruction on the EEl River valley and its people both friend and foe. If we look way into those pictures real hard, way in the back. You can always see Greed in human form walking away unhurt. The media always has a villain. And as good hard working americans we accept the media's tripe. But somewhere in front of a mirror on wall street greed puts on the war paint and goes to work. And we are all affected even in little old SOHUM. Peace!

two crows said...

Ernie..... As part of my retirement I would like to build and operate an out door theater somewhere close to garberville. How hard is that going to be. Was there a drivein before the flood? Ask the boys at the glee club if its possible?

spyrock said...

thanks oregon, i've been trying to figure out what happened for quite some time. that sounds like the best reason i've heard.

spyrock said...

up at twain harte near sonora, they've had movies outside for quite some time during the summer months. not a drive in, just sort of in a field in the middle of town.

Ernie Branscomb said...

Two Crows
The reason that the drive-in theater in Garberville failed is that there was just too many days with bad weather. They built the Calif State Highway Maintenance yard there.

I would rather see a nice guy like you enjoy his retirement, than try to make a success of a drive-in in a drizzle bank.

spyrock said...

the 5000 acre spyrock ranch with 5 miles of eel river frontage was purchased by the wildlands conservancy which is funded by one of those greedy stock market moguls who is trying to buck the normal greedy person trend.
Spy Rock is in reserve status, as unlike The Wildlands Conservancy's (TWC's) preserves, it has limited public improvements and access is limited to kayak camping on gravel bars along the river. TWC purchased this property to preempt the ever-increasing residential conversion of wild lands and to help protect the 75 mammal species and over 400 bird species found in the watershed. Over 90 percent of the Eel River's main stem is unprotected private property. TWC's land-based conservation will bring a strong voice for protecting this National Wild and Scenic treasure.
Visitor Opportunities and Access
Access is limited to rafting and kayaking from upstream put ins. For additional information contact TWC's headquarters at 909.797.8507.
google spyrock reserve and you can see what it looks like. but after kayaking the 10 miles from dos rios, you still have another 30 miles before you can exit at alderpoint. sort of like a deliverance trip. unless they do something about the growers pumping thousands of gallons of water out of the eel to water their plants, you can kiss your coho goodbye. read this: At a meeting in Mendocino County’s town of Willits in late October, what seems a fairly narrow topic—illegal water diversion on public lands—rapidly transmogrifies into a frightening evening of dying fish, dry rivers, and out-of-control toxic algae. On that chilly night, the event attracts more than a hundred people covered in fleece outer garments, many wanting to pick a bone with state regulators. It turns out at least one of the speakers has the same agenda....

...Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman supplies the local picture, noting that the county’s per capita sales of rat poison are the highest in the nation; growers buy rat poison by the pallet because watering the grow sites attracts rodents. This poison ultimately contaminates the soil and creeks while poisoning raptors and other animals that eat the dead vermin. DTO growers also routinely shoot wildlife.

Most of all, they consume water. “As you go downstream on the Eel, the river should grow,” says Allman. “Instead, it gets smaller because people are pumping into storage tanks and directly into gardens.” Allman estimates that 3.6 million pot plants are grown on public lands—“That’s 3.6 million gallons of water a day,” he says, “pumped out of our creeks and rivers.” Allman pledges to respond to anonymous GPS reports of pumps and hose: “I’ll pull pumps,” he promises. “We’ll fly tributaries. I want to see the salmon come back.
sounds like the growers share plenty of the blame to me for killing the fish. but i still prefer the springbones to the winterbones,.

Johnathan Wilson said...

Spy, Ive heard about some large grows that smuggle poisons from Mexico. I heard that they pour it into corn and salt blocks. The animals would go get a treat, walk a few hundred yards then keel over and die. These poisons are also going into the water.

This last year there was a large bust only 500 yards from our gate (which is a few miles through another private ranch). After the bust we walked in there to check it out and there was garbage everywhere. Down by the creek there was a pump with 4 or 5 Jerry cans knocked over with other chemical bottles further down in the creek, plus a couple car batteries and a bunch of other garbage.

olmanriver with coffee said...

That is so f---ing awful guys, no one supports this kind of vile abuse of the land.
One of the horror stories about last year was the sheriff's discovery of an eight inch pile sucking out of the main Eel... WTF.
How do people get away with multi-thousand pound crops planted in long rows in the open?

Greed does what greed wants. In any time era. Witness the parade of large trucks around here... it used to be people who work in the woods who had the larger trucks when I first got up here. Now every second and third generation grower has to flaunt what he does.


When I moved up here my local landlord had his rat bait within 20 yards of the spring that was the water supply for his tenants, and within 100 yards of the river.
But that was small scale compared to what you are talking about.
I could give you names of longtime local families with chemical grows that bleed into the Eel, but of course I won't. Anybody who thinks this is all a newcomer phenomena isn't correct.

My point is that the abuse of the land via growing is a horrible reminder of what some people will do for money. In some ways, worse than the logging practices that we have descried... I expect people forty years after Rachel Carson's Silent Spring to have some conscience and awareness of poisons.

Aren't I naive!

Isn't it something how much money there in America to play cop around the world, but not in our own national forests?

Joe said...

Speaking of naive..., I need some clarification from Charlie. While I lived near Honeydew from 1978 to 1982 I worked with Buck Miner on a place names project for the Mattole watershed. During that time we did not come across a place like the one you describe as the lease fields on the braid. I remember hearing of something referred to as "The Braid" over in Bull Creek redwoods (Eel watershed), but not anything in the Mattole. I guess I still have plenty to learn....
I spent the summer of 1977 at and near the mouth of the Mattole, and down around Punta Gorda, the lighthouse, and John Chambers' cabin. The estuary was in pretty decent shape that summer and was full of fish. I enjoyed watching otters and great blue herons catching fish and watching deer wade through the estuary. I saw no signs of drill muck. The stream restoration work that got started around 1980 was pretty constructive, I think. If drilling and growing had terrible consequences since them, I'm sad to hear that. I do think there were some serious conflicts of interest. Some of the people involved in restoration activities were growers. I don't think any of them were big time growers, however, and I think the growing culture got out of control, to the point that they were being told where and how much to grow and who to sell to. Greed. For sure. There is a point where people who care about the health of the watershed have to stand up and demand that their government (THEIR government) step in and enforce against those who are wrecking the place. Easy for me to say from more than 2500 miles away....

charlie two crows said...

Joe.....Follow along close, as you drive up the west side of the north fork from the bridge when you come to a creek on the left. Put in 4x4 turn left and drive right up the creek with the water up to the bumper. They actually drove a D6 up that creek to pull all the equipment up on the lease. I just watched in horror. They were at several spots. Locate on a map where the east branch of the north fork connects with the north fork of the mattole. The drill mud lays on top of the spawning beds its heavier than water. You must have been down at four mile. Hope this answered your questions.

Joe said...

Thanks, Charlie. Okay, now, it sounds like you are talking about the Lower North Fork, and the road that goes north at the west end of the bridge (across the river from The Yellow Rose). That goes up past John Chambers' house, past the original oil drilling site from many years ago. On up there is a nice big turn and pool that looked good for spawning--where I saw a nice 2' steelhead in the summer of 1977. Then there is/was a locked gate into what is/was John Chambers' daughter's ranch. The site you are talking about must be past that gate. A sad thing, if that is the spot.
Or, I guess you could be talking about the Upper North Fork, back above Mary Etter's place. There were gas seeps and oil seeps up there too. I think some people called a place up there "Stinkin' Spring." It was up on the side of Fox Ridge about 2/3 of the way up to Rainbow Ridge. Okay. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Too bad you guys don't have co-ordinates, like Lat. and Lon..
Just sayin'.

Oregon

Anonymous said...

Hint: Go to the local airport and buy a sectional for that area.

Oregon

two crows said...

40*21' 124*23'. Is close OK.

olmanriver said...

I think both of your locale descriptions will be found by clicking on section 4 of the 1921 Belcher map at this HSU link... maybe people can follow along.
Garberville is in section 3.

Unknown said...

I am pretty interested in this discussion of the "Braid"-- is that you, Joe, whom Buck has told me all about? I helped him a little on that book, too. And have not heard of the Braid. I could ask him, but it's never come up in a couple of decades of discussion of Mattole history.
Looking at the maps i see the junction of the Lower North Fork of the Mattole with its East Branch at about 40 deg., 21 min. north, but only 124 deg., about 15 min. west-- by the time you get to 23 deg. you're out in the ocean. Anyway the spot is north of Appletree Ridge, southwest of Taylor Peak, between Secs. 26 & 25, T1 South, R2 West.
Is this where you meant, Charlie Two Crows, where the jeeps went driving up the creek and the oil-gas chemical trash came pouring down? What was the Braid, a long ridge, or a braided section of the riverbed?
We are about to hold a meeting out here at the Grange (we the Mattole Valley Historical Society) on the topic of the estuary and beach at the mouth of the Mattole. Very timely that this has come up. Wonder if there's any verification of Shell's activities up there?