Last month, while on a trip out to Missoula, I stopped by the Sixmile Creek Farmers Screen, which was installed in 2011. As project manager for FCA, I like to check on projects at least once a year. This diversion is just 10 minutes off the highway which makes it an easy side trip.
This year was the screen’s third full season of operation. I can always tell by the amount of vegetation growing around a screen if it’s had a successful year — trampled vegetation means lots of foot traffic, which means a lot of screen maintenance. As you can see here, the area around the screen looks kind of overgrown – that’s a good thing.
I was also impressed by how well the screen is holding up to the elements. The screen material itself is stainless steel, but the body of the screen is a mild steel sheet metal. This project was installed on a very tight budget and, in an effort to save money, our client Trout Unlimited decided to forgo painting the screen. Over time, surface rust will develop so we’ve been monitoring the effects of not painting the screen on this installation. I was impressed to see that this year it really didn’t look any different from last year.
I didn’t take any flow measurements while on site like I usually do, but it looked to me like there was an adequate amount of screened water running for this late in the season. Sometimes, when a fish screen looks like it hasn’t been visited in a long time, it means bad things for how it’s actually being operated. Our first priority at FCA is to ensure that the Farmers Screen is the right screen technology for any diversion. I’ve seen too many fish screens that were poorly suited to conditions at their site, and then simply abandoned because water user gave up in frustration trying to keep up with maintenance. It’s great to see how well our site vetting process works. This is the happiest little screen in Montana!
Well … except for the two other FCA Farmers Screens in Montana!
Sometimes I think we take for granted this place that we live and work in. The Columbia River Gorge is home to spectacular vistas, fantastic outdoor recreation of all kinds, and each winter, it is home to a world-class restoration conference – River Restoration Northwest (www.rrnw.org).
At FCA, we keep the River Restoration Northwest conference on our calendar not because it takes place our veritable backyard but because it is an exceptional event. The quality of the presentations, the venue (Skamania Lodge is fabulous), and the interest that we have always received about the Farmers Screen from the over 300 attendees, keeps us coming back year after year. The conference features a jam-packed three-day presentation schedule and really nice socials. River Restoration Northwest has always been one of our favorites and will be for years to come.
Right after that week of close-to-home networking, it was time to load up for a 1,500 mile journey to Idaho Falls, Idaho for the Idaho American Fisheries Society annual gathering (http://www.idahoafs.org/). FCA had never been to this conference before but after looking over a sample attendee list, we knew that this was a good place for us to be. So, in between snowstorms here in the Gorge, we loaded up and headed east … and we continued that heading for 11 hours. Once there, we were greeted with firm handshakes, familiar faces, and cold beers — we knew we had made a good choice with this conference.
Day after day this conference proved to be a phenomenal networking opportunity. It seemed that half of the folks we met with already knew about the Farmers Screen and had some sort of involvement or knowledge of one of our past projects. By the end of the conference, I felt like we had made some great connections. Many of these were with new people and organizations who had knowledge of some potential screening projects where FCA might be able to become involved to help protect fish. This is what always makes a long trip worth it.
Many thanks to the organizers of River Restoration Northwest and the Idaho American Fisheries Society conferences – we will be back!
It was 7 days away from home, 1500 miles of highway, 2 conferences and countless conversations about the Farmers Screen. It’s been a great couple of weeks for myself and Les Perkins.
We started by making the drive down to Bend, Oregon, for the Northwest Hydroelectric Association’s Small Hydropower Workshop. We’ve always had a great experience at this workshop and we weren’t going to miss this one. It’s proven to be a solid couple of days of networking and learning.This year’s workshop was right on point. We were able to talk with folks who are planning projects as well as those who have recently implemented projects. We were also given the opportunity to present the findings from FCA’s recently released Irrigation Hydro Case Study, funded by the Energy Trust of Oregon and the Bonneville Environmental Foundation. Be sure to read the study to learn about how two distinct irrigation districts located in the Hood River watershed executed their hydro projects and the impacts that they have had on the stream systems.
The presentations at the workshop were great; the setting was ideal for the group; and the mountain biking was fantastic.
Yes, we were able to get out on our bikes. When in Bend you have to ride a bike at least one day. We weren’t the only attendees with that idea, seeing as we had 7 bikes in the back of the truck on the way to the trail head.
We were also able to get out to visit FCA’s largest installed Farmers Screen project to date for a tour. We rarely get to participate in tours at this site due to the distance from Hood River. So when Pam Thalacker, Three Sisters Irrigation District (TSID) Administrator, agreed to lead a tour for some conference attendees, we jumped on it. We invited a couple of equipment suppliers and engineers to go on-site to see TSID’s 160 CFS Farmers Screen and to hear about the daily operations of TSID. Pam did a wonderful job of describing how the project started, the details of how it turned into a reality and how the Farmers Screen has helped the District with their daily operations.
We’d like to thank everyone for the presentations, the interest in the Case Study, and of course the connections that we made with water users who might need some assistance with fish passage at their intakes.
From Bend, we pointed things north to Hood River for a weekend with family before we headed east to Missoula, Montana for the 2013 Pacific Northwest Fish Screening and Passage Workshop.
With the weekend over and 600 miles ahead of us, it was an early start Monday as we were headed to Missoula for the workshop. FCA Project Manager Dan Kleinsmith joined us for this important conference. But before we pulled into Missoula, we made a stop by one of our most recent modular Farmers Screen installations (Sixmile Creek) to see how it looked after the vegetation at the site had had some time to recover from construction. We hadn’t seen it since the first time the client had turned the water on, so it was wonderful for all of us to see how great the screen is performing. I think between the three of us we must have posted a dozen pictures of the Sixmile Creek screen on the FCA Instagram page. Proud FCA’ers.
Soon after we arrived in Missoula we were greeted by some familiar faces, handshakes and lots of questions about what we had been up to since we had last seen them. Within an hour we were deep into conversation with folks from Hydrolox, US Fish and Wildlife, Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks, River Design Group and the conference hadn’t even officially begun! Talking about new ideas, issues that we have all encountered, projects that moved forward, projects that didn’t, and how we can all work together to protect fish – such a great feeling.
The conference was fantastic. It began with my favorite part: when all of the states agency representatives from Idaho, Oregon, Washington, and Montana give updates on what they have been working on over the past couple of years. It’s a great chance to hear about the challenges that are out there, the ways that they overcame those challenges, and to applaud just how talented their teams really are. Seeing photos and video while listening to the screen shops talk about how they were able to complete some difficult projects is very inspiring. Screening intakes isn’t easy. If it were, we wouldn’t have so many unscreened diversions.
I was particularly interested in the new screen that Idaho Fish and Game was working on, as well as hearing about how the challenges that they were facing prompted them to work on something new and innovative. To me that’s what this conference is all about: the challenge and the solution. Sometimes that challenge is monetary, sometimes it’s geographic, and a lot of times it’s the availability of water, but none of those issues ever stop us from looking for a solution.
After a couple of days of storytelling and presentations, it all ends just as it had began. Lots of shaking hands and good wishes from your friends and colleagues from different states. We load up the booth, we grab a cup of coffee on the way out of town and take to the road. 600 miles to go.
The Scott Ditch screen is a 26 CFS custom Farmers Screen that was installed by WDFW last March for the South Naches Irrigation District near Naches, WA. Complete details about the project are available here.
The project engineer, Paul Tappel of Fisheries Engineers, Inc. graciously hosted a big BBQ celebration at the project site last week. We were there to partake in the great food, drinks, and conversation with landowners and neighbors who were all happy to join in congratulating the project partners on a job well done.
Fisheries Engineers did a great job demonstrating the screen function and fish protection capabilities with the release of several juvenile salmon over the screen. This was followed by the release of the “Tappel Apples” – great fun and a really creative way to demonstrate how the Farmers Screen works to be self-cleaning.
Also on hand at the BBQ was public radio and EarthFix reporter, Courtney Flatt who published this article on the EarthFix blog, and this radio story for Northwest Public Radio.
All of us at FCA would like to thank Paul Tappel, Yakama Nation Fisheries, WDFW, and BPA for their partnership on this ground-breaking project. As FCA’s first Farmers Screen project in Washington state, this one is special. Thank you!
FCA’s Les Perkins and Dan Kleinsmith had a great time traveling to the 31st Annual California Salmonid Restoration Federation conference in Fortuna, CA last month. A great time, that is, until Les suffered the weirdest knee injury ever, then it was just Dan having a great time.
The California Salmonid Restoration Federation always puts on a terrific conference. FCA really enjoys exhibiting there, learning from all the great presenters, finding new potential Farmers Screen projects, and meeting all the amazing people working on the front lines of salmon restoration in California.
We will definitely be back next year, without the crutches!
It was back in 2010 that FCA first experienced the River Network’s ‘River Rally’ conference. High up above the Salt Lake Valley floor, surrounded by the best snow on earth at Snowbird Mountain Resort, we learned about this group and the Rally. It left such an impression on us that once we heard that the 2012 Rally was going to be held in Portland, OR, we immediately signed up to host one of the field trip days here in Hood River.
Working with River Networks’s Katherine Luscher, we secured a full-day field trip, bringing 23 folks from 12 states from the conference center in Portland up to the Hood River valley to tour a Farmers Screen installation, have a wine tasting and talk about organic practices and irrigation management with Scott Hagee at Pheasant Valley Winery, and to tour and taste at Full Sail Brewing company while learning about their water use practices that have set them apart from most of the industry.
The weather couldn’t have been better, the group nicer, or our itinerary stops more impactful. We were able to show these great people around this amazing area that we work and live in, introduce them to some people that are working hard to protect fish and resources, and let them have a great time in the process. A big “thank you” goes out to the kind people of River Network for making this tour possible, Craig DeHart with Middle Fork Irrigation District, Scott at Pheasant Valley winery, and Lisa and Randy at Full Sail. Everyone enjoyed the day and the time that you took out of your day to be with us.
A couple of years ago, while attending the River Networks’s annual River Rally conference at Snowbird in Utah, someone said to me “FCA should attend SRF.” That person was so right. The California SRF conference was a great first step for FCA to make to introduce our screen technology to a new area and for us to hear where they are in screening and fish passage.
I submitted an abstract for Les to present on our lessons learned and it was accepted as part of the fish passage workshop held a couple of days before the conference kicked off. The workshop was well attended with about 125 people turning out to hear the presentations and participate in the Q&A sessions. Les did a great job presenting our technology to a group that had never before heard of FCA or the Farmers Screen.
The conference itself was a great place for us to meet folks in the industry and to hear about what they were trying to do to protect fish and deliver irrigation water. I felt like it was a great place for us to hear about projects, concerns, and activities of people working on these issues in regions beyond where we have been focusing our efforts. California has a lot of opportunities for the Farmers Screen and FCA and I feel like Les’s presentation highlighted how our screen can be used to help them. We’ve already received a couple of phone calls from water users and we are pretty excited about helping them out.
Category: FCA on the RoadTags: ConferencesComments Off on FCA attends California Salmon Restoration Federation con for first time in Sacramento, CA
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