Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Naselle R nr Naselle

This is the gage for the Naselle River near Naselle, Washington. The Naselle River is the the far southwest corner of the state and flows into the south end of Willapa Bay, and was the farthest on my field trip for the Tacoma, Washington office, a two and a half hour drive. I used to service one gage on the way, drive to and service this gage and then stay in Astoria Oregon, the closest town, about 20 minutes away.

This wasn't a hard gage to access or service, just tedious. The gage was down a steep, often muddy hill from the parking, on a flat overbank where the ground was almost always soft if not inundated and a small stream flowed through it. The measurements were made wading in the vicinity of the gage, usually upstream - photo looking downstream, or at the cableway about a quarter mile downstream. Non-wading measurements meant servicing the gage, going up the hill to drive to the cableway and driving back and down the hill to check things after the measurement.

I liked this gage because it was the last of the day for this day, and where I scheduled it for the last days of the field trip to just drive back the next day. Sometimes with field trips you have to make your own good times. Streamgagers have 12-16 gages in their network and just doing them one after another wears on you so you have find time for mental breaks on the one or more trips you take.

What I always liked about this gage was the weather and area. It's on the coast so the weather is mild, the terrain mostly hills and forests in a rural area and staying in Astoria afforded the evening to see some sights. While supervisors often pressed streamgagers to do more in less time, most of them don't have the field experience to realize it's about enjoying the job and doing your best. Streamgagers will be efficient and productive if you afford them the latitude to do the job.

Many streamgagers do their work is because they like being in the field, especially in the less populated areas, especially USFS or BLM land and streamgaging. And one of the benefits is having the time now and then after the work to spend their own time while you're already there. Some liked to explore the immediate area, some fished (in season and with a license) and so on. It's the reward for the many times the work is hard and in really bad weather.

This gage is always a reminder of the reality of life. In the fall the salmon come back to spawn. And if I timed the trip right I could not only see them, I would have to make a wading measurement when they were spawning. I can tell you standing in the river with salmon spawning around you is worth the time spent in the river. And I can also say they don't like someone's feet in their area. They will swim by and slap their tail against you.

Along with that, in the fall when the days were getting shorter, it's was a cool place to simply watch the light. What could be better than standing in a river with spawning salmon when the days were waning and the light fading on the horizon?

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