Teen returns from Jackson Hole fishing camp with valuable lessons

Gabe cunningham displays a nice-looking steelhead he pulled from the lower Hood River, where he spends a lot of time.

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Gabe cunningham displays a nice-looking steelhead he pulled from the lower Hood River, where he spends a lot of time.

Fishing is a way of life for Gabe Cunningham. Surrounded by water, he is happy to call a place like Hood River home and has found satisfaction in spending his youth along the shorelines of some of the Northwest’s best rivers, lakes and streams. But as the Hood River Valley High School sophomore matures, so does his perception of favorite local fishing rivers like the Hood, Klickitat and Deschutes.

To learn more about how he can help improve the condition of streams and rivers locally, Cunningham traveled this summer to Jackson Hole, Wyo., to attend one of several youth leadership and stewardship camps offered by the conservation organization Trout Unlimited. The five-day camp brought youth from around the country to the pristine waters at the base of the Teton Mountains to discuss current conservation issues and instill a sense of responsibility for stewardship to return home with.

“I learned a lot about conservation and a lot of ideas to bring back here,” Cunningham said about the camp. “Without conservation, we won’t have healthy streams and good fishing. A big part of the camp was to be able to bring ideas back home to show other people. We are the main cause of why the rivers need help, and we are also the main solution.”

Cunningham said the group also fished every day, which was a fun and relevant way to connect the group with some of the many conservation issues facing rivers and streams across the country.

“That was pretty cool,” He said. “We also checked out an old dam site that had been removed and got to see fish moving back up where the dam used to be. And we did an invasive plants clean-up where we pulled thistles and stinging nettles along the Snake River. One thing I brought back is knowing that if you do something to help, you can see the outcome. It’s pretty crazy how fast rivers can recover.”

Around Hood River, Cunningham says he fishes an average of a few times a week, even during the school year. He does a lot of other activities, but fishing, he says, is definitely top on his list.

“The Deschutes is really good for summer steelhead right now,” he advised. “Fall chinook are coming, too. The Klickitat and lower Deschutes are good; obviously there’s the Columbia, and the Hood is always an option. I know the Hood like the back of my hand. I like to ride my bike down to the old powerhouse, hike up the river as far as I can and then fish my way back down.”

Cunningham said he’s not sure exactly where to start in terms of local stewardship projects, but with active local conservation groups like the Hood River Watershed Group and Columbia Riverkeeper, he will likely have plenty of support in whatever he decides.

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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 www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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