As an employee of the Land Trust, I’m surrounded by staff members, board members (and many of our members) who know plenty more than I do about the natural world. I’m a quick study, but my 16+ months here at the Land Trust have made me realize just how much there is to learn. I can chat for hours and hours about organizational development, nonprofit budgeting, grant writing, or even the always thrilling Form 990 the Internal Revenue Service requires nonprofits to file each year. Conservation, I'm still learning.
That's why, last week, I jumped at a chance to join conservation director Brad Nye on a mission to count bull trout “redds” in Spring Creek, a tributary of the Metolius River that is protected by the Land Trust. A redd is essentially a nest of scraped out gravel/rock/sand, where trout and salmon deposit their eggs. The word is actually of unknown origin and my first Wikipedia search for the word turned up what seems to be a super awesome Turkish rock band by the same name.
Nonetheless, armed with my waders and new polarized sunglasses, I was delighted to follow Brad down stream as we carefully looked for redds made by the powerful bull trout. They use their strong bodies to literally dig down into the streambed, kicking rocks out in a fan shape behind them, and creating the nest where their eggs will have the best chance of survival. All told, we counted seven confirmed redds in the short stretch of Spring Creek we were charged with monitoring.
Redd counting is just one component of the ambitious goal to restore native fish runs to the waters of the upper Deschutes basin, something the Land Trust and our many partners are working toward each day. Maybe next year I’ll load a little Turkish rock music on the iPod before donning my wader, now that I have a much better sense of what I’m looking for!