The Official Blog of the Mid Klamath Watershed Council (MKWC)

 

Adventures of the Summer Youth Crew

Posted by admin on August 31, 2021

By Carol Earnest

The Mid Klamath Watershed Council welcomed four youth interns to our staff in June 2021, Xa-‘tle T’sing (Star) Lincoln, Madison Rilea, Lily Stender, and Dean Wellik. Hailing from Hoopa, Happy Camp, Seiad Valley, and Arcata, their interests ranged from forestry, fisheries, fire, plants, and community enrichment projects. Intern coordinators met the challenge, and offered experiential workforce development in all program areas.

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MKWC Youth Crew: (left to right) Xa-’tle T’sing (Star) Lincoln, Madison Rilea, Lily Stender, and Dean Wellik.

Because Klamath River fish are experiencing extreme challenges due to water quality and low flows, the youth interns worked consistently with the fisheries crew to improve thermal refugia areas in cold water tributaries, as well as snorkel surveys to monitor fish population and health. These youth learned about Ceratonova shasta disease, water quality conditions, and the diminishing populations of Spring Chinook salmon, prompting two of the interns to develop independent projects around the current state of the Klamath fisheries. Xa-‘tle T’sing created an informational flyer about the Spring Chinook, “One of Our Favorite Foods, Put on the Endangered Species List”, and Lily Stender wrote an article about C. Shasta disease, “The Klamath Fish Crisis: A Devastating Fish Kill Consumes the Klamath River”. Both interns felt that more people need to know what is happening on the Klamath River, the inspiration behind both projects.

To combat fisheries habitat loss, interns worked with Karuk Tribe Department of Natural Resources and MKWC Fisheries to construct a Beaver Dam Analog (BDA) on Stanshaw Creek. BDAs are human made structures (made with natural materials) that simulate natural beaver dams, modifying stream flow to increase depth and connectivity. This increases habitat for fish and wildlife, and makes an enticing habitat for beavers to move in and take over maintenance of the dams in the future. Just two days after the Stanshaw BDA went in, the pool depth had increased by 11 inches, water was spilling over the BDA and reaching the thermal refugia mixing area. For the interns, after seeing dire water quality conditions for fish, it was rewarding to help implement a project with such quick results. “I feel like I am saving lives”, said Xa-’tle T’sing when asked about the fisheries work she was involved in during the internship.

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MKWC interns work with Karuk DNR Fisheries to build a Beaver Dam Analog at Stanshaw Creek. 

MKWC interns also worked with Dr. Frank Lake, of the Pacific Southwest Research Station’s Fire and Fuels program -  as part of the Western Klamath Restoration Partnership’s forestry plot monitoring project, to evaluate treatment and fire effects in selected areas. Interns were trained by Lake in sampling protocol, and then assisted in the field to remeasure three units near Orleans. MKWC staff will continue to assist with the project throughout the summer and fall.

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MKWC Youth Crew, MKWC field techs, and Dr. Frank Lake at a remeasurement plot. 

And if that all wasn’t enough, the interns pulled thousands of high priority invasive plants, assisted MKWC staff with summer camp events for local youth, and supported community garden spaces with maintenance, planting, and harvesting produce.

Throughout these six weeks of summer, we witnessed an intern overcome her fear of snorkeling in the river, so much so that diving was listed as her favorite internship activity. We were impressed to see an intern hone in on fisheries identification, methodically learning the differences between a juvenile Coho, Chinook, and Steelhead. We watched two interns practice presenting a habitat lesson over and over, perfecting their rapport before presenting to a group of young students at summer camp. They were a hard-working, inspired and inspiring crew from start to finish. We can’t wait to see what they will do next!

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A Celebration of Mid Klamath Wildflowers

Posted by admin on April 30, 2021

From the riparian valleys to the high elevation forests, the Klamath Mountains are a biodiversity hotspot. Due to the unique geology and soil composition of the region, the mountains are home to several endemic or near-endemic plant species.

Spring in the Klamath Mountains is a celebration of flowers, capturing the magic of the region in beautiful blooms, glossy leaves, and powdery catkins. These plants provide crucial ecosystem resources, like nectar for pollinators and food for foraging, while also preventing erosion and improving soil health and water quality.

To protect the important diversity of plants in the Mid Klamath, the MKWC Plants Crew removes priority invasive plants before they can get a foothold and outcompete the native plants. Removal is done by hand and tool, and never by chemical, which can be harmful to the flora and fauna, as well as water quality. In addition to invasive plant removal, the Plants Crew collects native plant seed to spread in areas after a disturbance.

People of all ages can participate in invasive plant removal and native seed collection. It’s a  great way to get outside, get some exercise, and gain a better understanding of the importance and diversity of plants around us. Please join us for a workday! Follow us on Facebook to be in the loop.

For even more inspiration, we invite you to check out our Mid Klamath wildflower slideshow below. Test your wildflower knowledge by guessing the plant before the name appears on the screen!


School Gardens Still Growing Strong

Posted by admin on July 1, 2020

By Carol Earnest

Back in February, students from Orleans and Somes Bar planted peas, carrots, broccoli, and lettuce, among other things, in their school garden spaces. MKWC Community & Stewardship Program staff, partners, and volunteers, led students through the planning, planting, and tending of these seeds and seedlings, with the promise that their efforts would result in sweet peas, crisp lettuce, and crunchy carrots.

In March, schools closed and the promise of a future garden harvest suddenly felt uncertain. Fortunately, MKWC staff and volunteers, in coordination with the schools, were able to return to the gardens, following new COVID-19 safety procedures, and got to work. They harvested over 15 pounds of sugar snap peas, 30 heads of lettuce, and 10 pounds of broccoli, all which was delivered to local schoolkids through the lunch distribution program. “My kids love the peas!” one parent exclaimed when stopping by the garden in Orleans. A local teacher took a virtual tour of one of the garden spaces with her class, where her students saw the peas that they planted from seed, towering 10 feet high. “Remember when we planted those?”

In the face of uncertainty, plants continue to grow, flower, and fruit, as long as there is someone to tend them (and sometimes even when there is not). They become more than a source of nutrition, they are a symbol of resilience, a place of connection in a time when we need it the most.

As the heat rolls in and the peas and lettuce wrap up for the season, focus is shifting to the tomatoes, sugar pie pumpkins, beans, and basil, and we look forward to finding creative and safe ways to get this fresh produce to local families and food programs this summer.

MKWC is just one part of a larger group of organizations and people devoted to school garden programs in the Mid Klamath. We send a heartfelt thank you to the partners, schools, and volunteers that have made these garden spaces possible over the years, from pounding t-posts, putting up fences, delivering compost, organizing fundraisers, tilling beds, donating plants, and so much more.

unnamed.jpgOrleans School Garden. From left to right: garlic, pumpkins, peas.

This project is partially funded by the EPA Environmental Education Grant program.

Carol Earnest is MKWC’s Associate Director and Community & Stewardship Program Director.

 

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The Future Is Now

Posted by admin on June 2, 2020

By Erica Terence

In a clothing swap with neighbors, back when people were still gathering with abandon, a T-shirt printed ironically with a fax machine and the phrase “Reach the Future Faster” called on me to rescue it from the heap of unwanted items.

Who among us would have guessed how fast we would reach the future, not by fax machine but by a pandemic that few to none of us were prepared for? A future where person-to-person contact is frowned upon and handshakes are off the table, a thing of the past. A future where telecommuting and walking into supermarkets and banks in masks are suddenly – mind-blowingly - encouraged, even expected behaviors.

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With the realization that we’ve accelerated and landed in our future comes the unnerving realization that the end of any of our lives could arrive sooner than we think too. Are we ready for that eventuality? Have we planned for it? Most of us are realizing in a panic that we have not, or not nearly well enough.

We don’t even have legal documents outlining who will inherit what we worked for and held on to during the geologic blink of our lives, or if we do they may be outdated. If the number of people in my life turning to estate planning right now is any indicator, the future is definitely now.

And what kind of future are we leaving behind when we go? Will it have wild rivers teeming with steelhead trout and salmon sandwiched between rugged wilderness areas in the mountains? Will it have rare native plant species and life-sustaining biodiversity? Will it have people who still remember a time when fire was more of a friend than a foe, people whose grandparents taught them to wield fire for the benefit of plants, animals and people? Will it have green jobs that help rural people support their families and pass local wisdom on to upcoming generations? Let’s hope so.

But we can do more than hope. We can write these values into our wills as charitable bequests and pass them on to our kids. And we can do it in flexible ways that benefit us and our heirs. To explore how you can leave a percentage or your cash or non-cash assets to groups like the Mid Klamath Watershed Council (MKWC) doing critical work to protect and restore healthy ecosystems, economies and communities, please get in touch with me at erica@mkwc.org If you are in a position to give and are interested in including this kind of planned gift in your estate plans, I urge you to talk with your own financial advisors first. We’re also happy to consult our financial advisors and find an arrangement that meets your needs and even rewards you for the good you’re doing in this future.

Regardless of whether or not you want to include MKWC in your after-life planning, we still encourage you to think about the work you value most and the organizations that implement it, to ensure that you leave behind a legacy that continues to contribute to the places, people, and ideals that you hold dearest.

Erica Terence is the MKWC Development Director, born and raised in the Klamath watershed.

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by Mark DuPont

It’s always a great time to garden, but now even more so. With the Covid-19 pandemic, people are staying at home, minimizing shopping trips, and uncertain about future supply chains. Home gardens conjure images of vine-ripened tomatoes and fresh salads, but they can produce more than just salads and garnishes, and historically they have provided vital calories during times of crises. This article will review how a few different gardening writers have approached ways to maximize the amount of nutrition you can produce in your own garden. 

In 1966 Alan Chadwick introduced the French intensive-Biodynamic method to the US and changed the way people garden. Suddenly gardeners were planting in raised beds, double-digging and companion planting. Chadwick showed that finely honed gardening skills focused on a small area could produce spectacular results. E.F. Schumacher called him “the greatest horticulturist of the 20th century.” He blazed his way through the US, leaving a trail of magical gardens (I had the good fortune of living and learning at one of them, Camp Joy Garden, for six years) and inspired gardeners whose hearts were lit on fire by his passion for nature, beauty and the garden itself. Chadwick was part gardener, part mystic and part inspirational madman.  His teachings were hard to encompass and capture into words. John Jeavons was the first to describe Chadwick’s gardening methods and publish them in the book “How to Grow More Vegetables Than You Ever Thought Possible on Less Land Than You Can Imagine”, which has become a gardening classic. Jeavons re-named the method Biointensive Gardening, and his book is full of practical information on getting a lot of food out of a small area. The non-profit EcologyAction was formed in 1972 to research and develop the Biointensive method and teach high-yield sustainable agriculture worldwide, through ongoing workshops, internships, research and publications.

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Above: Camp Joy Garden in the Santa Cruz Mountains, one of the many inspired by Alan Chandwick.

Ecology Action addresses issues of growing population and topsoil loss, often working in areas throughout the world where arable land and fresh water are in short supply, so their objective is to maximize yields utilizing small areas. Equally as important as how to grow is what to grow. What crops yield the most food from a small area? “One Circle: How to Grow a Complete Diet in Less Than 1,000 Square Feet” by David Duhon is an effort to answer that question.  Trying to grow a complete diet in such a small area is quite a challenge (that’s a square 32 feet on each side), and the book tackles it first with in-depth discussion of human nutritional needs; and then follows that by looking at the nutritional composition of many crops. It’s a wonky book, full of charts and tables and even a slide rule(!) that helps you figure out how many square feet of a crop to grow to meet the daily requirements of various specific nutrients (this was written long before apps). It’s been on my shelf for years and I confess I’ve never used the slide rule, I just find the whole idea intriguing. Perhaps the most useful insight the book provides is that some crops are area efficient, while others are weight efficient. Weight efficient crops include nuts, seeds and grains, i.e. foods that jam a lot of nutrients into a small package but tend to require more space to grow. Area efficient crops will yield a lot of nutrition from a small area and include root crops and deep leafy greens. After a detailed analysis of human nutritional needs and rating crops for their weight and area efficiency, fourteen crops are chosen for the Once Circle Garden (drumroll please): collards, filberts, alliums (onions, leeks & garlic), parsley, parsnips, peanuts, potatoes, soybeans, sweet potatoes, sunflower, turnips and wheat.

The Resilient Gardener.jpgIf “One Circle” can be called the geek approach, then “The Resilient Gardener” by Carol Deppe would be the practical approach. Deppe writes from years of gardening experience in Oregon, and explores how to grow your own food in a changing climate, amid economic uncertainty, with minimal inputs. It’s a practical book full of tips and insights on gardening tools, variety selection, dietary needs, food storage and more. Like many people, Deppe has had to deal with food allergies, so she shares how she learned to produce her own gluten-free breads and staples to accommodate her changing needs. Like many who started out as a young gardener, she’s now an aging gardener, and talks about ways to garden and work that are easier on her back and whole body. At the heart of the book is a list of five crops she considers the backbone of a resilient garden: potatoes, squash, beans, corn and the laying flock (that is, chickens or ducks that provide eggs). I personally prefer this list over the One Circle list. I’ve grown wheat and barley several times and find that I rarely get round to threshing and processing the grains. Sunflowers are great, but the birds usually end up eating more than I do. Filberts are hit and miss in our area – too much heat and not enough water and they’ll produce a lot of “blanks”, empty shells with no meat. Potatoes, squash, bean, corns and the laying flock. All of these crops are nutritionally dense, grow well in our climate, and are easy to store and process. I would add to this list alliums and leafy greens. Grow these crops, and you’ll always have substantial food in your garden and pantry. Of course, above all you should grow what you love. Flowers feed the soul. Being Italian, but I can’t imagine not growing several rows of tomatoes every year, even though they're not on either list.

Spuds-small.JPGNotice that the crop that makes it to both lists is potatoes. Potatoes are high yielding, easy to grow, and produce more calories per square foot than any other temperate crop. They are also high in protein, second only to legumes in the veggie world. They require few inputs, are drought resistant, easy to store and will taste far better out of your garden than off the shelf. So, if you’re not sure where to start, plant spuds! It’s best to use certified seed potatoes, but in a year like this they can be hard to find, so use store bought if you need to, but avoid commercial potatoes, which are often treated with sprout inhibitors, and buy organic potatoes instead. An ideal seed potato is a hole or piece of potato about the size of an egg and contains two to three good sprouts. Potatoes prefer a well-drained loam but can deal with heavier soils if you mulch instead of mound. Don’t put too much nitrogen in the soil as it will make leggy plants with watery tubers and may encourage scab. Thin to 2-3 sprouts per plant and begin mounding when plants are 6 – 10 inches high. Tubers grow along the stem and must be covered with soil or they will turn green in sunlight and be inedible. The goal is to end up with a mound at least 12 inches over the planted seed tubers. Some gardeners like planting in a trench in order to get a head start on mounding, but I find it counterproductive in the early season when the soil is still cool – potatoes planted too deeply in cold soil will rot before sprouting. Don’t skimp on the mounding; green potatoes are a drag. And be sure to store potatoes in a cool place that is completely dark.  Potatoes exposed to light develop toxic glycoalkaloids. Check out the Resilient Gardener for more tips on growing, harvesting, storing and enjoying this amazing crop!

For more regionally-specific information on gardening, animal husbandry, fruit trees, soils, irrigation, food preservation, and more, check out the Foodshed Pages on the MKWC website here.

Mark DuPont is a MKWC Board Member and the owner and operator of Sandy Bar Ranch and Klamath Knot Permaculture with his partner Blythe Reis. Mark has over 25 years of experience in Permaculture as a farmer, nurseryman, instructor, consultant, and organic inspector in California and Latin America. Mark supports community-based food needs by organizing seasonal workshops, providing technical support for gardens and farms, and supporting community initiatives regarding food security.

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