Wait—Was I supposed to be doing work this summer?

Thursday, August 16, 2018 - 4:40pm


Zach Clayton

Working hard!

No offense to previous years, but I believe this summer has been one of the best so far. I first figured this out at 3:30 am on a July Saturday morning. An early start to the day is necessary if you’re Ben Franklin, or if you’re summiting Mt. Borah—Idaho’s tallest peak at 12667’.  On our way to the top, we ascended over 5000’ in elevation, and conquered Chicken-Out Ridge’s huge drops. At first, the exposure was a bit intimidating, but as you can see, I soon was feeling pretty relaxed. But don’t worry, Mom and Dad—I’ve been working hard off the mountain too!

Last blog, I was in the midst of a physical and mental maelstrom. Electrical wires of every color looping over lab benches. Uncooperative program software simply being annoying. Sawdust strewn all around the workshop. My work area could probably rival a mad scientist’s lair. Thankfully, those dark days have passed. First, I installed a new water quality sensor, called a sonde, in Harriman State Park. Known as the Ranch, this location is extremely popular with anglers; people travel from around the US and even the world to test their skills. With this expansion of HFF’s sonde network, we will be able to observe a key stretch of the watershed.

The Harriman Ranch sonde, successfully installed!

More significantly, I have successfully automated two existing sonde locations to wirelessly transmit data in real-time to the office. After several weeks of initializing, wiring, and programming equipment, I can now check the conductivity, dissolved oxygen, turbidity, and other parameters at Pinehaven and St. Anthony without needing to step outside the building. Since we’ve integrated these sites into the website Melissa has developed, anglers and fishing guides will be able to access current data to determine optimal trip locations, and we at HFF can better monitor water quality over the entire watershed. Coupled with my weekly samples on nutrient and sediment loads, HFF is building a robust data set to analyze patterns and predict future trends.

The weather station is up and running on the roof!

Further adventures at the St. Anthony sand dunes

Unfortunately, most of my fellow HFF interns returned to their respective schools last week. We’ve had a lot of fun together: skiing and sandboarding down sand dunes comes to mind. So what am I doing in the last week? Well, I just installed a full meteorological station on the HFF building roof. With this additional component, HFF can share climate data to better inform water management. Furthermore, I will install another sonde in Henry’s Lake; we’re partnering with Idaho Fish and Game to expand our involvement in this part of the watershed. I might go to another rodeo, further cementing my lifelong desire to ride a rodeo bull. Sadly, it’s hard to find an opportunity for this dream…but my health and my parents are probably grateful for that. I can guarantee you, if the past two months have been any indication, my last week certainly won’t be dull!