Deschutes Canyon Fire - Spey Pages
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post #1 of 24 (permalink) Old 07-19-2018, 03:00 PM Thread Starter
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Deschutes Canyon Fire

Sad news from north Oregon. A large grass fire has run into the Deschutes river and is now burning up the canyon. Right now its closed from Sherrars Falls to the mouth. Super hot and windy this week.

Worse yet is it sounds like those trees and outhouses are gone. Combined with the water quality/temp issues that poor river just can't catch a break.

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post #2 of 24 (permalink) Old 07-19-2018, 03:48 PM
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FAKE NEWS, you just want that water to yourself!
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post #3 of 24 (permalink) Old 07-19-2018, 11:04 PM
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not so fake :(

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FAKE NEWS, you just want that water to yourself!

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post #4 of 24 (permalink) Old 07-20-2018, 12:01 AM
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FAKE NEWS, you just want that water to yourself!
Not funny... There is a fatality associated with the fire and it burned most of the lower river, probably all the way to Mackís Canyon and maybe beyond. This is my home water and it is very sad. Will take a number of years to recover.

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post #5 of 24 (permalink) Old 07-20-2018, 12:31 AM
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Well that totally sucks.

I wonder how well the riverside trees handle fire, they are alders right?
Are they fire resistant at all? If not it's going to be MANY years before there is any shade again. From Amy's report dated this morning it sounds like a total disaster.

"A guy just came into the shop and gave us VERY VERY bad news. He was just in a sled that went upriver from the mouth and he reported that the entire river corridor on both the east and west sides is burned from the mouth up past Harris Canyon. The Harris Canyon historic water tower is - and this makes me sick - GONE. If you have ever been down on the lower river and seen this old historic and recently restored water tower that once serviced the train on the East side of the river - it was like something right out of an old western movie. It is no longer. The trees along the river are mostly burned up. The report from Kloan/Freebridge is devestating - no more trees, no more outhouses, no more shade. It is going to be hot and miserable camping down in the canyon for years to come - unless you bring your own shade, and we will certainly be bringing our shade wings, wall tents, and big tents to keep customers comfortable on sunny days."

This is just terrible.
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post #6 of 24 (permalink) Old 07-20-2018, 01:02 AM
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My bad, I was trying to offer some levity to my fishing buddy, in light of the fact that this is serious business. It's a shitstorm, no doubt. I hope that these winds die down real soon and that all the good people fighting and fleeing are safe. tight lines
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post #7 of 24 (permalink) Old 07-20-2018, 01:11 AM
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Sadly it may not ever recover. This is the new normal. With native sage and bunchgrass increasingly burned out and replaced by invasive cheatgrass, fires keep going up, and more streamside alders are getting torched each year. The alder recovered nicely in spots when cattle grazing was eliminated, but it is much harder to eliminate these kinds of fires, which are becoming larger and more frequent.
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post #8 of 24 (permalink) Old 07-20-2018, 08:47 AM
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Thanks JonT. It does sound bad. The Gorge Fly Shop has a report and photos on their blog, including a burned outhouse. You might think that losing an outhouse isn’t a big deal but these are very expensive composting toilets that the BLM has installed in the river corridor. It sounds like the alders along the river won’t survive. But, fire is not new to the Deschutes Canyon. In my 35 years of fishing and floating the river, I have seen numerous fires and the river recovers. This one looks very bad and it will take more than a few years. I have a permit for floating in mid-September. Not sure what we will do.

I feel bad for all of the farming community who have lost wheat crops, farming equipment, and in one case a life.

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post #9 of 24 (permalink) Old 07-20-2018, 10:30 AM
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Thanks JonT. It does sound bad. The Gorge Fly Shop has a report and photos on their blog, including a burned outhouse. You might think that losing an outhouse isnít a big deal but these are very expensive composting toilets that the BLM has installed in the river corridor. It sounds like the alders along the river wonít survive. But, fire is not new to the Deschutes Canyon. In my 35 years of fishing and floating the river, I have seen numerous fires and the river recovers. This one looks very bad and it will take more than a few years. I have a permit for floating in mid-September. Not sure what we will do.

I feel bad for all of the farming community who have lost wheat crops, farming equipment, and in one case a life.

Mark
Yeah, I've got a pass for a week the first non-motorized weekend in Sept.
A buddy of mine was going to go with me for his first trip down it this year, I'm not sure yet what we'll do either.
If there was some serious rain at some point if might at least tamp down the ash a bit but campsites will be pretty dismal no matter what and the evening breeze and other wind events could make for some pretty harsh conditions this year.

That general area has had a rough couple years with fire.
I was on the river last year when the Eagle Creek fire was going and there were a couple of days, one night in particular, where the smoke was so bad I was debating floating out to get away from it but the wind changed and better conditions prevailed.

A tough situation for the farmers affected by it.
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post #10 of 24 (permalink) Old 07-20-2018, 12:28 PM
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I've been involved with recovery and reclaimation efforts following wildfires for many years, and although this situation seems lost, that's not necessarily the case.

If BLM can estimate the amount of seed required, get it tested for invasive species and purity, line up contracts with helicopters, and fly seed on immediately after control, great strides toward arresting soil erosion can be made. Seed will penetrate the ash, then it's just a waiting game for fall rains. With the proper seed mix, most of these canyons can actually be put in better forage conditions than before the burn for the benefit of bighorns, deer, and any livestock that are permitted, as well as improve soil stability. The longer it takes to fly on seed of preferred species, the greater the opportunity for annual grasses to re-establish, turning the canyons back into poor ecological condition.

Alder, ash, and willows can all be brought in and planted along the rivers edge to replace those trees burned. Maybe find organizations to champion some of these restoration efforts!

With proper planning and funding, the recovery time with intervention can be greatly reduced vs waiting for natural revegetation (which will favor recovery by annual, non-native grasses, forbs, and shrubs.)

Unfortunately for fishermen, it may also require closing portions of the river to allow for establishment of introduced species.

It's a double-edges sword for sure. I'll be interested to see what the final fire configuration looks like. It may not be as bad along the river as we're fearing.

Hoping for the best............

"No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it is not the same river, and he is not the same man".--Heraclitus
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post #11 of 24 (permalink) Old 07-20-2018, 12:47 PM
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I'm hoping for the best as well. In the areas I've been in post wildfire it's always interesting how some portions look like a scorched wasteland and other spots seem untouched. No doubt that a lot of the canyon is torched but I'm hoping for the best and that there will still be places that were spared.

Most of all, I hope the firefighters are able to get it contained safely.
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post #12 of 24 (permalink) Old 07-20-2018, 12:51 PM
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As this fire has reached over 70,000 acres, I am trying to look on the bright side (no pun intended) - less angler pressure on these fish can't hurt.
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post #13 of 24 (permalink) Old 07-20-2018, 02:48 PM Thread Starter
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My bad, I was trying to offer some levity to my fishing buddy, in light of the fact that this is serious business. It's a shitstorm, no doubt. I hope that these winds die down real soon and that all the good people fighting and fleeing are safe. tight lines
I knew what you meant buddy. And i did have brief thoughts of getting out there as soon as it re-opens. Fish won't have seen flies for a couple days. Probably a better idea to let that place rest for a bit though, don't want to do more damage than has already occurred.

Last years Eagle Creek fire had me worried that the entire gorge would be burnt out, but when we did finally get to see it there was a lot of spared areas. I'm hoping this is like that and we still have some pockets of green left. Since its such a regulated flow erosion should be minimal. Time will tell I guess.
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post #14 of 24 (permalink) Old 07-20-2018, 03:18 PM
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It was bad enough driving and walking around locked gate; I can only imagine what the view looks like below Macks.

"Take care of the fish, and the fishing will take care of itself." ó Art Neumann
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post #15 of 24 (permalink) Old 07-20-2018, 11:31 PM
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The evacuation order for the lower river was lifted today at 4:30 PM. Kloan, Harris, Dike, and Sixteen Mile toilets are "no longer available for use." Today's inciweb map shows the fire upstream of Macks on both sides, perhaps to Sinamox (?).
I am hopeful that this fire, like many preceding it, was somewhat spotty on the river corridor and left a few alder clumps. If so, there may be some new camps developed. Time will tell.
Our first trip is scheduled for next week, but wife is concerned about ash etc. I told her it might be easier to see the snakes; only half kiddingly.
Without the streamside trees, water temperature from the Selective Water Withdrawl tower (tower of doom) is now far more important. Hope PGE/tribes adopt constructive changes rapidly.

I look forward to looking backward at this fire.
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