Sunday, November 21, 2010

Snow Fell in the Chuckanut Range

©Paul K. Anderson
Snow fell in the upper elevations of the Chuckanuts and at all levels down to the Salish Sea in the northern section.  Cold air from Canada, possibly because of the Fraser River Valley "effect" allowed more snow to accumulate here in the north.

I've been trying to photograph Chum Salmon along Chuckanut Creek the last several weeks.  I've spent an hour here or there but just haven't been able to capture images that portray the iconic dimensions or emotional response that we have towards this species.

Chum Salmon don't have the dramatic beauty of the red hump on the sockeye, nor the flashy brilliance and size of Kings - but what they lack in drama, flash and beauty they make up in quantity.

So early Saturday morning, with very few drivers out on the snowy streets, I slid down my driveway and drove over to Chuckanut Creek.

The creek was flowing at a higher level than just a few days before, snow blanketed the gravel bars, and wind toppled logs laying across the creek. In the pools below these log "dams" salmon rested, trying to gather enough strength for the last yards of their journey.

Carcasses littered the shallows and I saw many on the forest floor on either side of the creek, dragged there by the many birds and small mammals that visit this area. In the stream, nutrients released by these decaying bodies will provide food to the zooplankton and insects that the small salmon fry will feed on in the coming months. Nitrogen gleaned in the north Pacific, will replenish the forest duff and perhaps provide that one spark that will allow a giant 150 foot Douglas Fir to begin life.

As I was hiking back out to the car I saw this small leaf. A small drop of water had frozen on its surface and provided just enough extra weight to pull the leaf off its branch and tumble down to the forest floor - one small contribution to the forest duff and future generations of Douglas Firs, Red Cedar or Hemlock.

Each of us, like this small red alder leaf lying on snow, have the ability to provide for future generations of forest. Each of us, like the undramatic and non-flashy Chum Salmon can provide for future generations of salmon, birds, small mammals, insects and zooplankton that inhabit this ecosystem.

I joined the Chuckanut Conservancy to try and make a small difference, to generate a small spark that will provide for future generations.  I joined because I see the need for a safe and healthy ecosystem that can be provided by a special place like the Chuckanuts.

Please join me at the Chuckanut Conservancy.  Working together we can make a difference.

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