Revegetation almost complete at former dam site

Native species filling in well at Powerdale site

In the midst of the many destructive forest fires now occurring in the Northwest, one local forest is being actively re-grown to approximate forest conditions that existed back in 1923, at the site where PacifiCorp’s Powerdale Dam was built.

The Powerdale hydroelectric project was removed in the summer and fall of 2010, largely to allow free passage of ocean-going fish to and from the basin.

The removal has resulted in improved access to 100-plus miles of upstream fish habitat. So far, lamprey eels have been observed several miles above the dam for the first time in 80 some years (article, Sept. 22 Hood River News).

To restore the land and river subsequent to demolition, PacifiCorp was required to restore the denuded land by recreating the original hillsides, river channel and shorelines, soil mantles and vegetation communities that once existed, according to Steve Stampfli, Hood River Watershed Group coordinator.

That process is coming to a close in October 2012 when PacifiCorp’s official restoration commitment expires, and final restoration actions will be taken.

Soon after that, the land around and between the dam and powerhouse will switch ownership to Hood River County and Columbia Land Trust, under the terms of the 2003 Powerdale settlement agreement.

The company’s original revegetation effort occurred in fall 2010, when a total of 3,600 conifer and hardwoods were planted by professional contractors across the 3 1/3 acres of affected lands. Owing to the rocky nature of the reconstituted soil, however, many of the plants failed to survive.

The following fall, PacifiCorp made a second attempt, this time planting 800 additional ponderosa pine and Douglas fir.

These species performed better in the rocky conditions and, according to Stampfli, will be particularly beneficial to the river once they grow into mature, tall trees.

Stampfli has been continuing to assist PacifiCorp with restoration prescriptions, and notes that PacifiCorp is now doing a final site survey of plant survival, in conjunction with weed control.

The company will enter the site one final time this fall, to install “fill-in” plantings and meet restoration objectives.

Stampfli also noted that the Powerdale Lands Stakeholders group (sponsored by the Hood River Watershed Group) is very close to completing the land transfer process in conjunction with PacifiCorp, Hood River County, Columbia Land Trust, and the Hood River Valley Parks and Recreation District.

Once the land exchange takes place, a series of new conservation measures will be initiated under a stewardship plan being enacted by the land trust and county in partnership with the HRWG, Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, the parks district, surrounding landowners, and the greater Hood River community.

For more information on the Powerdale project, people can contact the Watershed Group at 541-386-6063.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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