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KWERI News & Progress

26th June 2012

Very busy Spring!!

This spring we've taken the very importand steps of forming our Board of Directors, holding our organizational and training meeting and putting into motion the formal effort of applying for federal 501(c)3 status with the Internal Revenue Service. We've adopted bylaws and revised articles of incorporation, and we've established our Council of Electors that acts in support of the Board of Directors and provides the third element of a system of checks and balances among the Board, Staff and the Council. Many thanks to David Atkin of Nonprofit Support Services of Eugene for all his help in carrying this through. The Board has approved enlisting David's counsel in developing the package for 501(c)3 application, so we hope to have that submitted within a couple months.

We're also very pleased to announce KWERI's first publication!! In collaboration with our partners Andy Ray, formerly of OIT and now with the USGS, and Andy Hamilton with the Bureau of Land Management and Chelsea Aquino, formerly with OIT and now with the Bureau of Reclamation, we have a publication in the journal Wetlands available online and soon to be in print. It is entitled Using Vegetative Nutrient Stocks to Compare Restored and Reference Wetlands in the Upper Klamath Basin, Oregon. This came out of our efforts to quantify vegetation and changes in vegetation as the wetlands around Agency Lake are restored. We hope to have another publication or two coming out on this work over the next year, and our mapping programs should provide more with these at their roots. We have expanded our list of partners in the vegetation zone mapping and surface mapping effort and are working on developing a comprehensive proposal and identifying funding targets appropriate for various aspects of the program. We're very excited about the breadth and depth of information our proposal will be capable of providing and the extent of its potential benefits among all our partners.

Our Oregon Spotted Frog project got off the ground this spring with attempts to record their calls using hydrophones and to understand the utility of hydrophones and microphones toward expanding our ability to unambiguously characterize a site as being occupied or not by our little herps. The survey method currently thought most reliable is searching for egg masses at sites during the approximately 2 weeks between oviposition and their maturation and hatching. This, of course, greatly limits the territory that can be surveyed and may limit new finds by prioritizing counts in areas where they are known to exist in order to document population changes. A recording method that could be laid out a priori and then picked up over time or remotely, if it could be demonstrated reliable, would expand the range of survey coverage greatly. We're currently searching through the hours of data we collected this mating season to determine if we have been successful yet in capturing the needed data.

Another element of the Oregon Spotted Frog project has also emerged. We have found that surveys by the OSF Working Group have documented a sharply declining population of OSFs in the Jack Creek Watershed. This was precipitous in the early part of the last decade, and the population is not recovering well. This stands in contrast to the Big Marsh population just a long stone's throw away to the northwest where the frogs appear to be doing well. We're developing a proposal that will seek to support the USFS and USF&WS in their efforts to protect, restore and expand the Jack Creek habitat as well as investigate the biology behind the population's drop and failure to recover. We hope to investigate changes in flora and fauna of the region, including microbial and macroinvertebrates as well as both predators and food sources for the OSF. We hope to investigate the water levels and chemistry and timing, vegetation changes and possible cover losses, grazing impacts, as well as possible interactions among these factors. The Big Marsh and Wood River Valley populations will serve as reference sites for this investigation.

We've been so busy with the above that our efforts for the sucker species of the Basin, Chasmistes brevirostris and Deltistes luxatus have taken a back seat. We clearly need more people to help us with our work! As funding develops, this will be more possible. Volunteers on any of these projects could also be of great help, so drop us a line or give us a call if you're interested!!

Check out our projects page for more information as these programs develop and we get them funded!!

18th March 2012

Wow, can't believe it's been a year since I've updated the progress and news page. It's been the best of years and the worst of years, but for KWERI, it's been mostly the best of years...

We've made great progress in building our network of collaborators, both within the Basin and outside. We have contacts with Oregon Institute of Technology, University of Oregon, Oregon State University, Lewis and Clark College, Portland State University, Evergreen State College and University of Washington. Many of these contacts are acting to help us understand the biology of the Klamath Basin, and others are helping us to understand the history and social structure of the Basin.

We've also made progress in formally establishing our organization. We've enlisted the help of a very competent attorney that specializes in both environmental law and nonprofit law, David Atkin of Nonprofit Support Services in Eugene, OR. He's redrafted our by-laws, adjusted our structure, provided guidance in other legal issues, and is about to help us put together our Board of Directors Organizational Meeting. We have filled out our Board with a group of marvelous, professional people that I'm sure will serve KWERI well. And likewise, we've built a Council of Electors that will provide a great touchstone for the Board and help us to maintain our focus on our mission and values. Our Council of Advisors is also growing impressively through our networking efforts.

Our programs are also developing very strongly and multiplying. Our lead program to map the vegetation and surface of the Agency Lake Wetlands is taking shape in a very encouraging way. We've expanded its reliance on remote sensing to more efficiently cover the 20,000 acres of wetlands being restored surrounding Agency Lake, and enlisted partners that we hope will make this possible and very valuable.

We've begun developing a project to support the Oregon Spotted Frog Working Group of federal agency personnel charged with protecting these little herps. It will focus on finding them, understanding their biology and genetics, and doing what we can to support agency efforts to expand their reproducing populations and secure their future.

We're also working to build a project closely associated with our wetland vegetation project, but focussing on helping to build an understanding of the natural history of the endangered sucker species of the Basin, Chasmistes brevirostris and Deltistes luxatus. We will be working with federal agencies and Tribal groups to build a "citizen science" effort to increase the observations made in the wild of these fish in order to help build a better understanding of their behaviors and the influence that environmental factors and management efforts have upon their life cycles and breeding success.

18th March 2011

Busy, busy, busy! Well it's been some time since updating the progress page, but we've been very busy making progress, nonetheless!

We worked on projects on our three favorite wetlands this last summer: Wood River Wetland (WRW), Williamson River Delta (WRW), and Hank's Marsh (HM). We gathered many samples and took many measurements and all has now been processed and analyzed. We hope to get a publication or two in one of the wetland journals this summer. We got a large dataset of plant nutrient composition from three of the dominant species in the wetlands: cattails, tule bulrush and broadfruit bur-reed. We also got a several additional relevee surveys done on the three wetlands for addition to our surveys from previous years, as well as returning to all thirty of the WRW plots sampled two year previously. We obtained observational data from all of those thirty WRW plots for comparsion to previous years and collected biomass and soil samples from the five plots showing the most obvious changes.

We've begun in earnest our mapping project, obtaining GIS software, images from NAIP and much other relevant data from avaialble sources. We've produced a preliminary map of HM vegetation and are now working to do the same for WRW. Unfortunately, the NAIP image of WRD is of little value as the flooding in recent years resulted in water levels that left the 2009 NAIP image of WRD largely a picture of water surface. The good news, however, is that the USFWS and TNC have a contract out to get a veg map of WRD, so we hope to get that data soon anyway. We've also contacted our partner Lighthawk, and they are still willing to fly routes over the wetlands in July or August. This will help us interpret the NAIP imagery and adjust the computer generated stand identifications. Field work will also be necessary to validate the maps, so when we can get funding, we will begin this effort.

Combining our vegetation maps with the sampling data will allow us to estimate biomass accumulation totals and nutrient standing stocks across the wetlands. Once we have those, we can begin implementing routine measurements over the years to monitor changes and this will begin to give ourselves and the land managers in the federal agencies and at The Nature Conservancy data to facilitate their management efforts.

We also cooperated with Sage Community School for a Wetland Kayaking Day last fall. That was great fun for us and I think the kids enjoyed the adventure immensely. We'll be returning with them in the spring to observe changes with the season.

Finally, we've been working on the administrative needs of KWERI, having incorporated in the State of Oregon and begun the process of drafting bylaws and organizational operating guidelines, as well as getting the application to the IRS for nonprofit 501c3 status. That is the next big hurdle to our being able to really open our doors and begin operations fully. We've recruited a fine start-up Board of Directors with expertise in organization development, science and research, education, and specifically, outdoor education. We're very happy with the quality of individuals we've been able to recruit and we believe this is a promising sign for our future recruiting efforts.

Stay tuned!

3rd May 2010

Today we launched our updated web site! We hope it provides more information and we hope it's in a style more conducive to browsing. We've much more to do, but it's a start...

1st May 2010

As stated in our Vision Statement, our strategic planning process is underway. We're in the process of interviews with potential partners helping us to delineate the needs that exist and the urgency of various roles. If you would be interested in participating in that survey or have a suggestion, please contact us! We're anxious to build an organization around what is needed.

30th April 2010

We just finished up at the Pacific Northwest Chapter Meeting of the Society of Wetland Scientists in Bellingham, WA. The keynote address was from Robert Michael Pyle and it was fantastic. He delivered a comfortable, engaging talk and brought home the point to all present that their roots were in childhoods where they had free time to wander in places where "The Wild Things Were!" He emphasized that our culture was leaving this out of the environment of our children and that this could have substantial consequences for developing the cadre of land managers, biological scientists and naturalists of the future. Bob cited the book The Last Child Left in the Woods as a good presentation of this thesis and encouraged all to consider the ramifications.

The PNW SWS is a good group, though apparently academics are underrepresented. And given the critical interface between wetlands and urban/suburban development, there was a noticeable lack of developers present. There was a pretty good turnout from consulting firms, agricultural concerns, state and local land managers and federal agency land managers. We couldn't get to all the sessions, but found good sessions discussing restoration practices, wetland mapping, agricultural interfaces with wetland restoration and preservation and a nice presentation by EPA's Mary Thiesing on the EPA Wetland Assessment Survey.