My wife and I recently moved to Walla Walla from Denver. As we both enjoy outdoor activities, we are becoming acquainted with the local hiking trails and fishing opportunities.
While skirting the Mill Creek Watershed along the Indian Ridge Trail with the Walla Walla Hiking Club, we learned that the U.S. Forest Service protects this watershed area from contamination of our drinking water by strictly controlling its access. Since our hiking trip, I’ve gone online to learn more about the Mill Creek and its fish population.
As reported by the U-B on Sept. 11, 2011: “Fish managers believe that upper Mill Creek is very good fish habitat,” Tri-State Steelheaders project manager Brian Burns said, adding that for a number of years scientists speculated as to why the upper Mill Creek failed to produce good numbers of spring chinook or summer steelhead. It is believed that passage through lower Mill Creek is the issue, and we never had anything more than opinion and anecdotal information as to why.”
As reported in this Sunday’s edition of the U-B, the rollout of the study continues on lower Mill Creek. While I am sure the Tri-State Steelheaders’ project is well intended, I am skeptical about the effectiveness of the lower Mill Creek fish passage to improve fish habitat.
I am concerned that the initial habitat improvement study missed the underlying cause of lackluster fish populations in the upper Mill Creek.
While researching the Mill Creek Watershed, I learned from a reliable source — “BigFoot Research Organization” — that for years sasquatch have made it a veritable rendezvous location. (Little did my wife and I know that we have moved into a hot bed of bigfoot activity.)
Apparently, these marauders are using the Forest Service’s own moratorium as cover for whatever they do when they come together. In any event, it is not difficult to imagine these furtive primates befouling the pristine water of Mill Creek, unabated.
Clearly, this has downstream consequences resulting in the degradation of water quality that support healthy fish populations. It only takes a few bad apples to degrade water quality and obfuscate what would otherwise be sound research conclusions.
The “sasquatch oversight” is no fault of the Forest Service or the Tri-State Steelheaders’ research. Resources have been stretched to their limits. Mistakes were made. I’d be willing to do my part and volunteer to patrol the watershed, ticket offenders and help monitor fish populations.