Back on April 1, with snowpack and winter streamflow data in hand, I predicted that the spring of 2015 would be the driest in the last 35 years and quite possibly the driest since the extended drought of the 1930s. You can read my April 1 predictions at http://henrysfork.org/spring-2015-shaping-be-driest-record. So, how good were my predictions?
As the Environmental Modeling Intern, my time is split between field work and programming in R (a statistical computing language and software environment… think Excel but more powerful and with a lot more user driven direction). The first half of my summer has primarily consisted of using R to create graphs comparing the current water year to those of the past. When I was first given this task, my R skills were limited and the pressure was on.
The flow test at the Chester hydroelectric plant was completed successfully last week, although high levels of aquatic vegetation moving through the system made for interesting work conditions at Chester and stressed the trash rake beyond its limit. Additionally, an issue with transmission lines also caused the Island Park Dam hydroelectric facility to trip off early on the morning of the 22nd. This caused a reduction in flow for about two hours, but fortunately the effect was greatly attenuated by the time dip reached Chester.
Before this summer, when I pictured Idaho I thought of three things: snow, fish, and potatoes. Now that I am here, the images I associate with these words have changed dramatically. In the seed potato capital of the nation, with top-notch fly-fishing and altitudes so high that you get tan hiking on snow, I have learned more about fisheries, agriculture, and Idaho than I could anywhere else. The welcome to Ashton sign says, "Adventure starts here," and after my first few work weeks, I believe it.
Having grown up in rural Alaska and having just graduated, I was ready to leave the Silicon Valley suburbs behind and return to a place that felt a little more like home. Almost immediately, southeastern Idaho gave me that feeling. With a little over 1,000 residents, Ashton, Idaho is cozy. Agricultural fields stretching across rolling hills to the base of the Grand Tetons provide open space that is plentiful and welcoming. And then, of course, there is the Henry’s Fork – a river many claim as home to the best fly-fishing in the nation (if not the world).
Now that all of the interns have arrived in Ashton, Idaho, the blogging can begin! I, Natalie, the Colgate intern, have been here for 5 weeks so far. Abi, the Ashton intern, has been working since April. Maya, the Washington and Lee intern, just finished her fourth week. Finally, Christina, the Stanford intern, has been here a week and a half.
The Henry’s Fork Foundation was notified in mid-June about plans to release water from the Island Park Reservoir to provide extra flows for a turbine test at Chester Dam June 21-26. Through negotiations with Fall River Rural Electric and other entities, it was decided to delay the release and the testing until later in July to provide more notice for travelling anglers and to maintain the great June angling opportunities on the Henry’s Fork.
It's that time of year when growth of aquatic vegetation (called "macrophytes") begins to fill the stream channel and raise the water depth, even without changes in river flow. Remember that streamflow is the volume of water that flows past a given point on the river per time unit. We usually measure streamflow in cubic feet (volume) per second (time). The depth of the river (measured in feet) is a function of both streamflow and the shape of the stream channel. As macrophytes fill in the channel with plant biomass, there is less room for the water in the channel.
Occasionally, I am asked what I do at the Henry’s Fork Foundation or what does the Foundation accomplish? The following synopsis of a day (OK, maybe two days plus) on the Henry’s Fork should give our members and the local community a little more insight to the daily work of HFF.
With the opening of the Ranch this week, it was time to get out a little bit of information about future projects that will enhance the experience of visitors to this hallowed water and protect the Henry's Fork and its wild trout.