>Owl, Film, Sign, Clean-Up – 1-20-11

>Owl Report.  The following owl report came in a couple of weeks ago.  These owls are so small you can hold them in the palm of your hand and we wish we had such a photo.  The attached link below shows just how cute they are.  We also had a report of a Coopers Hawk on Classic Ave last week.

The northern saw-whet owl is back!  This little owl spent several months last year looking for a mate in the ravine behind Roosevelt Street.  His call can be mistaken for an alarm clock or the beeping of a truck backing up – it’s high pitched and very regular.  He is back in the preserve although he seems to have moved up the ravine to a place west of the vacated portion of Rest Place.  According to Vic Ulsh, “They are cute little rascals.  The big bully ‘barred owls’ who roam Illahee Forest can be predatory on the little saw-whet owls so I worry about them.”  Although their mating call can be annoying at 5:00 in your backyard, we are all hoping that he succeeds in finding a mate this year!

Seattle Film Showing.  We are late in posting this notice as this film showing is tomorrow evening in Seattle.  Note that Shelly Solomon is the filmmaker who is working on a film on Illahee.  She has done some amazing films, as you can see below, and we are fortunate to have her helping us get the message about what is happening in Illahee and to our watershed.

Public Environmental Film Event: sponsored by Feathered Friends and Sustainable Seattle
Friday Jan 21st, from 7:00pm to 9:00pm
Feathered Friends
119 Yale Ave. North (just down the street from REI)
Seattle, WA
Filmmaker Shelly Solomon

Throughout Ms. Solomon’s career as a biologist, she has been struck by the fact that so much of the positive work being done in the environmental field, has gone unnoticed. It seemed only natural to Shelly that a better-informed public would lead to a more engaged public. Ms. Solomon started Leaping Frog Films to “Get the Word Out” about these positive stories. Solomon recently received Sustainable Seattle’s 2010 “Leadership in Sustainability in the Natural World” award for her film work.

Find below 2 films that will be showing, plus 2 pages of film reviews

Buried in Sawdust for 50 Years” and the Unintended Consequences

This is a fascinating film about how a Washington estuary was filled with milling waste to a depth of 60’, where it remained for 50 years and how a local nonprofit secured over one million dollars to restore the estuary back to its original tidal elevation. Highlights of the film include an examination of the chemical contamination resulting from 50 years of accumulated wood waste, interviews with an original mill worker and his memories of the operation, discovery of the original estuary elevations with plants and tidal channels still in-tact, and finally, the returning of tidal waters to the estuary for the first time in 50 years. Project partially funded by Salmon Recovery Board. Created by Leaping Frog Films.

Almost Lost but not Forgotten – Pinto Abalone Recovery in Washington State
Puget Sound is full of many treasures, and the native abalone is among the greatest.  At a NOAA’s Mukilteo lab and a small abalone nursery in Port Gamble pinto abalone are being grown for re-introduction into the wild. In the summer of 2009, over 1,200 animals reared in this facility were outplanted into Puget Sound, representing the most substantial abalone recovery effort to date in Washington. Pinto abalone – the only abalone species found in Washington – may be at risk of becoming locally extinct.  The natural population has plummeted over the last several decades and there are too few abalone in the wild to successfully reproduce.  The goal of this multi-faceted abalone recovery program is to increase densities in the wild and build sustainable populations of this important species for the future.  This film showcases different aspects of recovering abalone populations in Washington State from spawning adult brood animals, to tending juveniles during months of grow-out, to careful reintroduction into the wild. It’s a big undertaking involving conservation genetics, state-of-the-art hatchery rearing techniques and lots of collaboration between scientists, NOAA, WDFW, tribes and community groups. Created by Leaping Frog Films.

Preserve Brush Picking Signs.  Soon there will signs posted to tell people more explicitly that brush picking in the Illahee Preserve is illegal.  The Park’s Department had the attached sign made up for Banner Forest and we asked for some for Illahee.  The signs are in English, Spanish and French in case so there should be no problems understanding for those who don’t speak English.  

Preserve Clean-Up.  There are a number of people who help keep the Illahee Preserve clean of trash, along with the Chalice Heart group the routinely picks up trash along Thompson Lane, which is especially important now that the gate was damaged and considered too expensive to fix.  We took a picture of Jay and Rob last Saturday as they were helping with the clean-up on Thompson Lane.  Also included is a picture of a TV set that was dumped along the road.  These are the disappointing events that are offset by those who volunteer to help clean up.  Thanks to all those who keep the Preserve and Thompson Lane picked up!

Illahee Community Clean-Up.  We know of at least 4 people who have been regulars at picking up the roadways and ditches in the Illahee community.  They are Rob, Carol and Carole, and Dennis.  You see them carrying bags for the garbage they pick up as they get they do their regular walks.  They have told us that the bending over to pick up things and then carrying the bags greatly increases their cardio-vascular workout over just walking.  We have heard there are also others who are regularly picking up trash and we would be happy to recognize them for their efforts.  Please let up know who they are.

Jim Aho

>Work Party, Levee, Wildlife – ‏ 1/3/11


Rotary Work Party.  Some major work was done at the Thompson Lane parking lot on Sunday (1-2-11) by the Rotary Club of East Bremerton (see attached photos).  It was quite amazing to watch the front end loader on the John Deere tractor fill 3 or 4 large wheel barrows to overflowing at one time.  They didn’t want a big group helping them because of the tractor, so we didn’t advertise this work party to others.  They moved tons of wood chips, and we thank them again for adopting the Illahee Preserve and keeping it in tip top shape.  The following is their writeup of their efforts:

Illahee Forest Preserve

The East Bremerton Rotary completed another productive work party at Illahee Forest Preserve on Sunday morning, January 2nd, 2011.  The focus was to clean-up the perimeter of the Thompson Lane parking lot along Riddell Road.  Roughly 15 loads of wood chips had already been delivered to the parking lot.  Dave White’s John Deere tractor made easy work of the task as chips were dumped over the guard rail and into waiting wheelbarrows.  Thereafter the chips were quickly spread atop the area surrounding the parking lot.  The Thompson Lane parking lot looks much improved for the effort. 
The second photo shows the parking lot after a thorough cleanup by Bill Wright and his mega-blower. 

Varied Thrush Gives Its Approval.  After the work party completed Vic Ulsh photographed the varied thrush that appears to give its approval of the Rotary’s efforts, see his (Vic’s) email comments:

The last photo is a varied thrush who stopped by to help clean-up after we were finished.  Varied thrush is a very cool bird who comes down from the high country to spend winters in the forests of Puget Sound basin.   There seemed to be about 5 or 6 varied thrush hanging around the brush in the perimeter of the parking lot.  I’m guessing they will be staying not far from the Thompson Lane parking lot for the next few months. 

Levee Questions From Previous Update.  We have been asked to explain more about what a levee is and why it was requested, as some in the community do not understand the issue.  First, the Wikipedia dictionary definition of a levee is:  “leveelevéedike (or dyke), embankmentfloodbank or stopbank is a natural or artificial slope or wall to regulate water levels. It is usually earthen and often parallel to the course of a river or the coast.”   There must have been a concern that a levee was needed to prevent Illahee Creek from overflowing its banks, or that the levee installed after the Dec 2007 storm was in danger of failing.

Levee Comments.  We did get a few phone calls and several emails regarding the levee issue.  The first one we have attached being a comment that went to Kitsap County, followed by their response, and then a response back to the County.

First Comment & Responses:  The community should question why a levee would be constructed (at taxpayer expense) for the protection of private property that was developed contrary to the advice of the county (representing the taxpayer).  It seems that the developer knowingly (admittedly) assumed the risk of building in the streams migration zone/flood plain.  Why should the taxpayer essentially bail out the developer for their bad decision? 

Fiction can be very entertaining but Kitsap County did not build any levee or other flood control feature on the Mossano property.  The Road Division crew simply performed routine maintenance on the Illahee Creek culvert by excavating sediment from the culvert outlet.  All of the material was trucked from the site and this activity was permitted by WDFW.  There were no additional measures taken by Public Works.  Thank you for your comments and, in the future, please contact Kitsap One at 360-337-5777 for information on Public Works activities in your neighborhood.
Thanks Jon for your prompt response.  Is it fiction that a levee was either authorized or authorized and permitted under an emergency HPA?

Second Comment:  On the levee question.  The property in question never should have been built on.  It is a flood plain and the owner knew this when he coerced the county into giving him a permit.  The owner should live with the consequences of choosing to live in a flood plain.  No public monies should be spent to protect a house that the county did not want there in the first place.

One Legal Question Response.  We did receive a phone call from a former environmental officer who stated that the stream natural processes take precedence over protecting property, though we have not verified it or heard from any legal experts yet.

Owl & Preserve Photos.  There are a number of people who regularly use the Preserve and also take photos.  George is one who has taken photos and posted them on the following website, which contains various photos of a barred owl and other Preserve features:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/85934826@N00/sets/72157625562766240/

Jim Aho

>Responses – 3/25/10

>Wildlife Update Responses.  According to your comments our Updates are appreciated, but even more so when they contain wildlife information and pictures.  We had some good responses regarding what has happened to the quail and pheasants.  See the following responses that have come in so far (in the order they were received):

Response #1.  The demise of quail and pheasant have been substantially hastened by irresponsible people who think it is their right to let domestic cats wander freely outside.  The (young) quail and pheasants are quickly killed as amusement and sport by outdoor cats.  Even the Humane Society adamantly states that domestic cats should be in-door critters.  If you want quail and pheasant to thrive, then people need to find enlightenment and deal responsibly with their cats as in-doors pets.  But cat owners don’t want to hear this because their precious little Muffin should have their freedom to wander to their heart’s delight (regardless of cost to wildlife) because it just wouldn’t be fair to little Muffin.  It’s an old and tired attitude.  The National Audubon reports domestic cats are the number one predator of native song birds, and number two is not even close. 
Of course coyote, fox, raccoon, etc will also kill birds, particularly the most vulnerable ground feeders such as quail and pheasant, but the losses are minimal compared to the carnage done by domestic cats. 

Response #2.  Where have all the quail gone ???  ..Eagle food and racoon dinners. 
We lost 3 quineas last week one with an eagle,  two with racoons.

Response #3.  I don’t have a picture but have spotted the quail a number of times on
Illahee road southbound just past the creek. We seem to have an over
abundance of deer this year, one with a totally white leg, so our albino
deer must still be somewhere in the area.

Response #4.  Great pheasant photos!

Response #5.  Beautiful photos!!!!

Response #6.  What beautiful pictures, wow. It’s such a treat to see some of our local wildlife. I had a hen and a rooster here several years ago that I enjoyed watching, but with all the dogs and cats around they moved. Thankyou for adding these along with the updates on our area and the Timbers Edge news. I appreciate all that you do.

Response #7.  perhaps in your next update you could include this link:

This is the owl that has been serenading all of us who live close to the Illahee Creek ravine for the past week or so.  He/she has been hooting continuously from dusk to dawn.  Yesterday I pushed my snooze button twice around 5:00 am until I realized it wasn’t my alarm – it was the bird!!  I recorded the sound and sent it to Vic Ulsh who identified it and sent me the link.  He also said this about it:  Your serenading little friend is a northern saw-whet owl.   I am glad to have them in Illahee Forest.  They are cute little rascals.  The big bully “barred owls” who roam Illahee Forest can be predatory on the little saw-whet owls so I worry about them.  Sorry for the annoying and monotonous serenade. 

Response #8.  I think the pheasant and quail populations have decreased due to a combination of more pets (dogs and cats) roaming around in the daylight hours, and more wild animals (possums and raccoons) scouring their roosting areas at night.  Throw in a few fox and coyotes along with a few hawks and falcons and the poor birds don’t have a chance.  Its a wonder we have as many as we do.

Thank You for Responding.  Thank you to all who let us know you like to receive these Updates, and thank you for those who responded to this last one.  We appreciate you comments and input!  Also, let us know your owl stories, like the one in Response #7.

Jim Aho

>Wildlife Update&Preserve Info – 9/11/09


Missing Cat.  We were asked if there was a picture of the cat that went missing that we reported in our last Update.  Before we had a chance to check on one, someone forwarded a photo of the actual cat.  If anyone has seen “Fiona” let us know and we will pass the information on.
Owl Pictures.  Thanks to Ed who told us how to access the owl photos from an email.  The owl in a barred owl, and looks similar in color to a spotted owl.  The difference is the breast feathers on a barred owl are vertical, while those of a spotted own are horizontal.  Some were hoping it was a spotted owl as the picture was taken close to where the Timbers Edge project is proposed to go in.

Dead Blotted Seal.  We were advised by one of the local Area Habitat Biologists to report the dead seal to the Marine Mammal Investigations, which we did.
Missing Doe?  The doe one resident was worried about is still around, according to those responding back.  On a walk this evening we observed five dear with none having the distictive white markings of the deer in question.
Illahee Preserve Work Party Sunday Morning.  We receive the following notice regarding an Illahee Preserve work party scheduled for Sunday morning.
ILLAHEE FOREST WORK PARTY.  We are planning a work party for this Sunday to accomplish a couple tasks within Illahee Forest Preserve.  The work will include gathering up limbs (which have already been cut) and piling onto an adjacent parking lot AND removing pieces of an abandoned car body which has already been dismantled & cut into manageable pieces by Central Kitsap Fire & Rescue.  We had hoped to utilize some Navy volunteers but they have not yet confirmed.  We welcome any volunteers who may be willing to help.  Our target was 16 people for 1.5 to 2 hours.   Gloves would be handy.  Meeting location is the Almira parking lot at Illahee Forest Preserve located behind/above Lowe’s in East Bremerton near the corner of Fuson and Almira.  Target time for meeting is 9:00 AM this Sunday morning, September 13th.  Muffins and coffee to be available. 

I welcome any questions.  Thank you.

Vic Ulsh
WK (360) 479-6900
HM (360) 373-4824

Illahee Preserve Damage to Red Elderberry.  We just received the following email regarding what looks like deliberate damage to red elderberry plants in the Preserve.  Let us know if you see anyone doing the damage.
Just wanted to let you know about an evolving challenge at Illahee Forest.  For reasons I cannot explain, somebody or somebodies have been wreaking havoc with red elderberry plants in the Forest.  They are bending/breaking the stalks and leaving the damaged plant material to die.  Mostly near the trail system, but some of the carnage is off trail.  We had another round of damage to red elderberry shrubs in the past 1-2 days.  This seems rather odd.  The damage is only to red elderberry, but it’s torn up pretty badly.  As always, let’s keep alert and monitor/investigate any suspicious behavior.    Thanks.

By the way, I think there is some type of dead animal very near the Thompson parking lot, but I could not determine just where.  Peeeeewwww!

Jim Aho

>Wildlife Update – 9/9/09


Predator Gets Cat?  Attached is an email we received the other day.  If this cat escaped and you have seen it, please respond to this email.
On Friday night, at midnight I was coming home and when I opened the door my cat, Fiona, scooted out passed me.  She is a 10 lb. brown/black Maine Coon cat with long hair, of course and a black stripe down her back.  Fiona is new to going outside and had not ever been outside until a couple of months ago, when I would let her and her sister out during the day when I was at home, so she does not know about the dangers of the outdoors and especially at night since she does not go out at night.  I fear that she is gone for good, but I hope that she is out there just scared and that I will get her back.

The incident is as follows:  I live a couple of doors up from the old store across from the Illahee Dock, for sake of location.  I have a completely fenced yard and Fiona was in the backyard.  I tried to get her about every 30 minutes from midnight until the incident and she would come close and talk to me, but would not come in, and she has the aloof personality that cats are known for and she wanted to stay out longer.  At 2:30 Saturday morning I went out and called her and she once again came to the corner of the house and spoke to me, but would not come in.  I went back inside and sat down and then I heard the noise like she was in a fight with one of the neighborhood feral cats, I got up immediately and went outside and there was nothing to see.  She made the fighting noise for no longer than 10-15 seconds without growling like in a cat fight.  I took a flashlight and search the property, calling her name the whole time right after this happened.  Saturday, I searched the property at least a half a dozen more times calling her name and there was no response.  She was so happy with her new house and yard.
As I say, I feel that she is gone for good, but I hope if anyone finds her they will contact me.  As you can imagine, I am devastated.  A friend of mine that works with Fish and Wildlife as a wildlife biologist for the feds says he thinks it sounds like an owl that just swooped down and got her.  I don’t know, but I want others to be aware so that they don’t loose their pet in the same way.

Illahee Creek Turtle.  We had several identification responses as to what type of turtle it was that we saw in Illahee Creek.
Looks like a painted turtle (Chrysemys picta)
That is a Painted Turtle (Chrysemys pieta).  The Western Pond Turtle is dark brown with little other coloring.  The Painted Turtle is more common in eastern WA but many have been introduced in the Puget Sound area.  Not that too unusual.
Owl Pictures.  We recently received some great owl pictures, but are having a hard time figuring out how to get them off an email and attaching them to this update.  We will keep trying. 
Have You Seen This Doe?  We have seen this doe with her two fawns, but not recently.  The two fawns have been seen on their own so some have been wondering if something happened to the doe.  If you have seen her recently, please let us know, and we will pass the information on.

Blotted Dead Seal.  This just floated in Wednesday morning.  A few years ago a dead sea lion floated in and decomposed on the beach.  It wasn’t a pleasant sight and the odors were even worse.

Jim Aho

>Miscellaneous Items – 7/8/09


Illahee Forester.  Illahee is fortunate to have a recognized forester, Jim Trainer, in the community.  Jim often gives wildlife presentations and also tours of area forests, including the Illahee Preserve and the area along Illahee Creek.  We are a little late in reporting on a recent tour Jim gave to the GPC last month. 
On June 13 Jim Trainer conducted a hike for the Great Peninsula Conservancy to see the 800 year old culturally modified Western Red Cedar in Illahee.  There were about 25 people and it was reported to be quite a hike. 
Hooting Owls.  Last evening there were some owls who were especially noisy along Sunset next to the Illahee Preserve.  There appeared to be about 4 owls having a hooting contest.  We think they were Barred Owls and wish we had a recorder to document their sounds. In the past we have had nearby residents tell of hearing the owls at night and last evening we heard them for ourselves.  It was quite an experience.
Garden Tour Interest.  We have had 5 people express interest in working on an Illahee garden tour so we will try to get them connected to see what they will come up with.  Let us know if you know of anyone else who might be interested, or any garden areas you would recommend they consider.
Timbers Edge Appeal & Possible Counter Proposal.  We understand an ad hoc committee of the Illahee Community Club is working on a draft counter proposal to be presented to the Illahee community for final concurrence, and then when/if approved, to the developer.  We will try to stay on top of this as we know that many are concerned on what will happen to the community if the project were to go ahead as planned.
Rainfall in Illahee.  Since May 20th the rainfall in Illahee is only 0.22 inches which has come in some pretty small amounts, see the attached for the exact amounts which begin on June 19th and end on June 27th. 
Jim Aho

>Miscellaneous Items – 2/9/09


Illahee Website. The Illahee website was established for the Illahee community to have ready access to local issues and events, and to be able to communicate with each other.

Blog Site Established. The communication vehical is via a blog site, which is something the younger generation is more familar. We have had the blog site up for some time but the useage has been limited.

Website Advisory Committee Decision. There is an Illahee Community Website Advisory Committee that met last fall and suggested the Community Updates be linked to the blog site.

Why Do This? That was the question and the answer is that it allows others to quickly respond to any of the Updates and everyone can see the responses.

How Does It Work? The other day we put out an Update mentioning owls, and we ended up getting two great responses back. We haven’t gotten them back out in an Update, but if they had sent them in as comments to the Update, they would have been available to anyone who wanted to look at them right away.

Illahee Community Club Meeting on Valentines Day. The Illahee Community Club will hold its first quarterly meeting of 2009 on Valentines Day, February 14, 2009 from 1:30 – 3 pm, at the Sylvan Way library. This is an important meeting as they discuss an Illahee Community Advisory Council that would report to the Kitsap County Commissioners, the status of the Replacement Illahee Outfall, whether to appeal the anticipated appeal rejection by the Hearing Examiner of the Timbers Edge project, and the status of the Illahee Creek culvert that continues to fill with sediment, and possibly other issues.

Illahee Owls. We received the following report of Illahee owls a few weeks ago:

Last night around 6:15, during our weekly pickle ball match, we heard this continuous very loud high pitched hooting to the Southwest near Sunset Ave or Hicks Street. Then we all noticed the back and forth series of hooting coming closer and to our amazement two Barred Owls flew right over the house and pickle ball court, 20-25 feet off the ground, hooting at each other as they flew. One was trailing the other by about 12 feet. At first, I thought there may have been more than just the two, but this is all we clearly viewed. The two owls flew toward the east and perched in some trees near East Blvd. They continued their hooting for another 45 minutes. Last year a barred owl perched in an alder tree watching our pickle ball match for nearly three hours in the bright court light. The owls seemed to be curious of the fast moving pickle ball.

March 12th Owl Presentation. Kitsap Audubon speaker for March 12th was covered in the following Seattle Time’s article on Jan 29, 2009:


>Miscellaneous Items – 10/5/08


Gilberton Creek Road Report. We received the following update from Kitsap County on the progress of the Gilberton Creek culvert and road repairs:


Status: October 1, 2008

This project replaces the roadway and culvert that was washed out during the December 2007 storm. Construction started on August 18, 2008. A new fish passage friendly 10-foot diameter culvert has been installed, streambed material has been added, and backfill for the roadway embankment has been constructed. The project is nearing completion. Installation of utilities are currently underway, asphalt paving is scheduled for the week of October 13th, followed by guardrail installation, and paint striping for roadway channelization. The roadway will be opened to traffic when all work is complete, which, pending any weather delays, is scheduled for October 31, 2008.

The Open Line
 Kitsap County Public Works
 (360) 337-5777

Illahee Creek Culvert Report. We were surprised how much sediment has been moving into the cleaned out Illahee Creek culvert recently. The opening is remaining in the 40 inch range with roughly 20-25% of the excavated deeper hole already filled up. We will try to attach a photo looking downstream through the culvert to show the recent buildup.

Recent Rain. We have a rain reporting station in Illahee and I talked with Barney Bernhard who said we received .94 of an inch the other day and interestingly Barney said the same storm dumped 1.9 inches at the same latitude at Hood Canal.

Barred Owl Goes After Dog. We had a report from a jogger in the Illahee Preserve who had his border collie with him, evidently in front of him, and told how the owl swooped down on the dog and evidently realized it was larger than it thought, and about 3 feet away abruptly pulled up. The owl retreated to a nearby tree which allowed the jogger to identify the deep seated dark eyes characteristic of a barred owl.

Small Hawk Snatches Small Bird. Another jogger reports a small bird along the road east of the Preserve being attached and carried off by a small hawk and said it happened about 20-25 feet in front of him and happened so fast he could hardly comprehend what happened and marvelled at the lightning speed of the hawk.

Salmon Jumping. Periodically salmon have been seen jumping along the Illahee shoreline.

Winter Sea Life Beginning to Emerge. Seals are starting to be seen along area floats in larger numbers, along with cormorants. Also some of the wintering seabirds and ducks have just been spotted.

Timbers Edge. We heard the expert witness reports all made it in by the deadline of September 30th and they were all well done. We will check to see if we can pass them on in an update or possibly put them on the website.

Sewer Hearing? We heard that there were several residents who asked for a sewer hearing by the Oct 2nd deadline and we are wondering how that will be noticed since there were many residents along Illahee Road who weren’t notified. We briefly saw one of the sewer letters and would like to have someone scan the document into a pdf file and send it to us so we can pass it on to those who aren’t aware of the new one-mile proposed sewer line being run through Illahee.

Keep the Wildlife and Other Reports Coming. We have many tell us they like to read the updates so keep the reports coming in. We will report what you pass on to us.

Jim Aho

>Wildlife Update – 9/27/08


Send in Your Wildlife Reports. The wildlife updates are the reason many have requested to be on the Illahee Community Update list. We will try to keep these updates coming, but we need your input. And, don’t hesitate to remind us as we receive many emails each day and sometimes important items get overlooked.

Bird Data Near Gilberton Creek. Vic Ulsh recently spoke with Kate Kuhlman of Great Peninsula Conservancy (GPC). GPC is working on potential grant opportunities which could lead to their acquisition of property at/near the mouth of Gilberton Creek. As you know, this creek was severely altered during last December’s major flood event. GPC already owns land along this creek. They are contemplating additional land with hopes of habitat restoration work. One area of information which they are looking for assistance is any bird inventory data, including shore birds, in this area. Might anyone in the Illahee Community have any insight on bird activity near Gilberton Creek? Please provide feedback to Vic Ulsh at (360) 479-6900 or vic@bradleyscottinc.com

How Many Salmon Were There In Illahee Creek? The other day we noted that the community was trying to restore salmon to near historic levels and someone asked whether Illahee Creek was a significant salmon stream and just what were the historic levels. The text below is the answer we provided and now others are trying to talk with other old timers to see what they remember. Let us know if you have any additional historical fish information or information of on whether Dr. Schutt had salmon in his reservoir.

When I got involved with Illahee Creek that was one of my first thoughts was what was this stream like before the area was settled. Was this small stream, that flows year round, ever a significant salmon stream?

It does have a history of people getting salmon from it. Ed Fischer, who is now 94 years old, tells about going to LaMotte Creek (Illahee Creek) to get salmon for his mother to smoke and can. Other old timers talk about residents filling up wagons with salmon from the creek. Dr. Ray Schutt (who started the Schutt clinic) put in a small dam on the creek, which then was referred to a Schutt Creek. (Seems like the creek was named by whoever lived at the mouth, until it was finally officially named Illahee Creek.) There were reports of lots of fish and deep pools along the creek corridor during those intervening years, though evidently not the salmon runs of the earlier years.

Illahee Road was put in in the 1930’s with two 36″ culverts which were noted by some as being salmon barriers. They were replaced in 1999 with a box culvert 14′ by 9′ which was slowly been filling up with sediment. During the December 3, 2007 storm the culvert filled up almost to the top and was recently cleaned out by the county.

I don’t think Illahee Creek was ever a big producer of salmon like some of the other creeks. Because it is a small stream it was likely very easy for early settlers to clean out the salmon. Ed Fischer said they would simply “scoop” the salmon out of the creek.

The salmon I have personally seen in the stream are chum and coho, and some pretty good sized ones at that. When the county cleaned out the culvert I got a chance to watch them move some of the coho fry from the upstream net past the work area and I, like the workers, were surprised by the numbers considering the Dec 3rd storms impact on the creek and culvert. Another of the old time residents who died a year ago and was in his 90’s was Meredith Jones, a sheet metal planner and estimator, who talked about watching steelhead follow spawning salmon to eat their eggs. Something that can only probably be seen in small streams like Illahee Creek.

I think the reason for it not being a top producer is of its small size and short length, coupled with the fact that it was probably decimated early on by the locals taking too many of the easily accessible fish.

There have been a number of fisheries biologists who have looked at Illahee Creek over the years. The latest was part of a National Fish and Wildlife Foundation grant. They recommended the Schutt dam be taken out or broken up. They said the sedimentation problems have filled up the pools necessary for good salmon habitat. And they recommended that beaver be used to help with getting more pools in the creek. We will soon get another report regarding getting control of the stormwater surges as part of a Department of Ecology grant. Lots of action for a small stream, but if we don’t do something we will end up with another road washout like happened with Gilberton Creek.

Owl Reports. We heard from residents near the 3rd Street wetland areas that they regularly see owls in the area, along with deer.

Squid Report. The squid being caught at the Illahee Community Dock the other night were plentiful, but small.

Cutthroat Jumping. Another report by a waterfront resident noted that cutthroat have been seen jumping along the shoreline.

Nudibranch at Brownsville Marina. This might be a new term for many. These are “soft-bodied, shell-less marine opisthobranch gastropod mollusks, which are noted for their often extraordinary colors and striking forms.” We saw one earlier this month at the Brownsville Marina and thought it worth including in this update, see attached photo. Jeff Adams of the UW Sea Grant program identified it for us as “Giant nudibranch – Dendronotus iris – to 12″ long,” and “…ideal underwater video subject, for either its feeding lunge at a tube-dwelling anemone or its entrancing dance in the water column, well off the bottom.” Picture credits go to Bob Stephens of Knoxville, Tenn who was on the boat with us and had his camera ready. 

Jim Aho