Saturday August 29, 2020 Guerneville CA.
What to do today
Once I got it going this morning I didn’t know what to do with myself after all the forest fire action, none stop for about the last ten days.
So I went out in the yard and chair hopped until I decided to go over to my brothers garden and get my car and bring it back to my house so I walked across the road and over to the garden. the car was there to keep if from burning if the fire got to my place.
I checked on the plums an ate a couple and put a few in my pocket for later as they are some real good plums.
Dirt bike ride
Once I got the car parked back in it’s spot at home I sat down again but could hear some equipment moving around in the hills doing mop up work on the forest fire so I hopped on the dirt bike and rode up into the hills to see what was going on.
The roads they are using to haul water and bring equipment in are real dusty so I rode up through our place to avoid it and had a nice ride up.
Real dusty roads
I stopped at this spot called the turn around and chatted with the Healdsburg crew for a bit. They were doing some back firing down the back side to use up all the forest fuel so the spot fires couldn’t burn through it. It’s a section the fire missed as it burned through the other day.
I’d planned to make this a short bike ride so I headed back down the road when I heard a big beast puffing up the road, so I quickly pulled over just in time as the monster roared by, the skidder fire truck on his way back up with a load of water to resupply the fire trucks.
Another truck had pulled in by the masticator so I stopped and shot the bull with the two guys until I heard my brother Tom coming up on his quad which you can see in the back there. He’s been going up and helping out the fire fighters a bit.
From there I rode on home and did some napping and chair hopping.
I picked a bowl of raspberries and some fruit to eat. I had a bowl of berries yesterday but it’s hard to get a picture as they disappear fairly fast but today I made an extra effort and got this one. I put some sugar on them and mashed them up and they disappeared fast. Yummy.
Late in the day Tom came down from the hills on his quad and said all the dozers operators are parked up at our cousins. Just before that the house power went out as they are replacing some poles up Sweetwater road by Mount Jackson the communications hub which is there.
One more short ride
Since I couldn’t do much at home with the power out I jumped on the dirt bike for one more short ride before dark.
I rode up to my cousin’s place where all the dozers are doing maintenance and repairs.
I walked around my cousin’s house where I ran into these guys. The guy with his hands up is Andy Strode which I hadn’t seen since the start of the fire and the other guy on the left is Jim who works for him which I had seen on and off. Andy was working in the area with his dozer but he does the night shift. Each dozer has two operators one for day and one for night so they can keep going during a forest fire.
I decided to avoid the dusty roads on the way back so took the long way back through our place where the dozers hadn’t gone. I had an enjoyable ride and made it home before dark.
Putting stuff back
That was my day for a good one. I got some much needed rest.
Good time to speak of this story
Since the forest fire started my readership is up about 5 times. So as long as I have more readers it’s a good time to tell you another story.
I also told one of my commenters I’d tell her the fish story. After thinking about it I decided I’d tell the fish story here and kill two birds with one stone as they say.
So here it is.
The fish story
This story is about the ups and down of steelhead and salmon on the Pacific rim and in our rivers and streams.
It starts around 1778 and goes up until now, actually it starts before that as people have been living off the land long before that.
But I’ll start at the 1778 time when Captain Cook was plying the seas around here trading for goods to sell back home.
At that time Animal skins and bird plumage where used heavily for clothes and stuff as there wasn’t much in the way of synthetic materials around yet, not until after WW2 did those kick in.
So by 1778 animal hydes were getting harder to come by throughout the world so explorers and traders were traveling further from home to procure these things. They did a lot of trading with the original people in these areas for these goods.
What they were getting was all the fur bearing animals and some birds up and down our coast line and river’s and streams as well.
To add to that the Hudson Bay Trading company was also doing that and going inland in the western US to do the same as well as some other companies.
Lots to start with
That was ok as at first there were lots of animals and birds.
Then around 1812 the Russians landed in California at Fort Ross and settled in and did the same.
What these guys did was kill off almost all the fur bearing animals in the ocean and in the Western US. They almost wiped them out.
Now what did that do to the big spawning fish that come into our rivers to spawn.
Huge increased numbers of fish
When all the fish’s predator animals and bird are reduced or almost eliminated the fish would multiply. There weren’t many people in the west yet, mostly natives and not too many of them, so there wasn’t much to stop the fish from doing what they do and multiply.
So when we first came west in any numbers the fish population would have been huge and it was, as I hear it. There were a few of us in the area before 1850 but around 1850 gold was discovered and everything changed rather rapidly. Remember people were still living off the land and there was plenty of wild game and fish at the beginning.
Eating off the land
So all these people started coming west eating wild game and fish as that was mostly all there was at first and that’s what most people did in those days anyway.
They did all right but then the great depression hit and then WW1 and then WW2 and the country filled up with immigrants and no one had much money so they ate wild animals and fish and what ever they could farm. More pressure on the fish but there were lots of them so all was good, sorta, but they’d already started the decline of the fish. Remember there were more fish around then usual because of all the killing off of the fur bearing animals and bird that are them.
And remember they still used a lot of furs for clothes which started to change more after WW1 and WW2 when the industrial food chain started to kick in and synthetics were developed which was good as they were running out of animals and fish.
Immigrants depended on the land
So after WW2 people didn’t need wild animal products so much but at the time lots of immigrants didn’t have much money so they still depended on the land.
But as money became more plentiful and most didn’t need to live off the land anymore the old timers kept up what they were doing, further depleting the wild life.
When I was a kid in the 50s things were in pretty bad shape because of how many people that now lived in the west.
I would play with some Italians up the hill from me and we’d go down to the creek when the big fish were spawning and look for a fish to kill but usually found none or maybe 1.
The Italian kid I was with said his family used to get 50 out of this creek not long ago and they’d take them all. Just the way it was to feed the family. I was part of the problem too as I ate a few.
Just the way it was
No one knew any better as it’s just the way it was and no one even thought the fish would disappear from over harvesting.
At this time the fish were being taken in the creeks, the rivers and in the oceans all around the Pacific and the fish stocks were rapidly declining.
The Russian River, the one that I’m on was too close to the bay area and it had lots and lots of fish in it originally but soon the creeks and river’s got fished out. There weren’t too many animal predators of the fish at the time as the predators were shot to keep them from eating fish and other predators where shot to protect farm crops and such.
Old timers are dead
Now at this time the fish supply is way down and the old timers that lived off the land are dead, so the fish should pop back but remember.
Fur bearing animals eat lots of fish and they are coming back faster than the fish, eating more fish so they are the ones now putting a lot of pressure on the fish as people fishing has been reduced a lot so right now people aren’t the main concern as much as the wild predator animals coming back faster than the fish and eating them.
More predators than fish
But now we don’t shoot the predators much so there is no control over them and they will continue to put pressure on the big fish.
Harbor seals like fish
There’s almost three hundred harbor seals that live at the mouth of the Russian River that wouldn’t of been there in the olden days as the natives would of used them for clothes and stuff, so they would of been shot.
River otters like fish
There are lots of river otters in the river, lots of them likely more than there’s ever been in a long time as they have very few enemies to kill them, same with the harbor seals.
Cormorants like fish too
There’s thousands of cormorants that just wait for the hatchery fish to be released each year so they can feast on them in the estuary at Jenner and they do, except when the river is muddy.
One should be aware of this
If you are going to study the fish problem one should be aware of this as it’s a big part of the fish story.
What I’m saying is the fish problem isn’t so mush an ecological disaster problem unless the disaster is just too many people eating the fish.
We do have some ecological problems with the fish but that wasn’t the main problem.
What I’m also saying is there will never again be as many fish as there were when their predators were reduced around 1800.
Ok there you have it. Think about it and see where it takes you.