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From the Publisher

Dec. 16, 2004


The greatest show


[salmon coming through tunnel]I thought last December was a fluke, but it wasn't. The fish are spawning in my neighborhood of Fieldbrook for the second year in a row. Lindsey Creek is loaded, and so are all its little tributaries. Just a few feet from where I was standing on Saturday, I watched a king salmon well over 3 feet long negotiate a stretch of shallow rock-and-gravel creekbed. Most of his body was out of the water as he writhed furiously back and forth until he finally, finally made it upstream to the next pool big enough to hold his 30-pound body. Upstream in another pool several females made long gracious circles, cleaning the gravel of sediment with tail flips before making a final pass to lay their eggs.

I've lived in Fieldbrook for 30 years, and I have never seen anything like it. Not just kings either; I counted at least three silvers Sunday. One neighbor tracked a good-sized steelhead for a day or two in his own backyard before it moved on.

As I stood there I was thinking what a good use of state and federal tax dollars that was three years ago when county completed some "fish passage replacement projects" -- or culverts to you and me. Each culvert was individually designed to prevent flooding homes and to remove barriers so the fish can spawn.

I called someone Tuesday over at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Arcata (National Marine Fishery Service) to say thanks. Margaret Tauzer, a hydrology engineer, explained that the funds came from a number of sources and that the work was coordinated by the Humboldt County Public Works Department.

"There are a lot of crossings that have been replaced -- five or six on the Mattole, one in Sullivan Gulch in Korbel, an older one on Jacoby Creek," she explained, and all are working well.

So in addition to the many the holiday crafts fairs, music, dance and theater performances, we now have another wonderful show to look forward to each December. It might be a little x-rated, but take the kids and go find a creek near you.

Photo above: Chinook salmon makes its way up the Lindsay Creek fish passage on Murray Road in McKinleyville.


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