Yesterday was my annual pilgrimage to speak at the Siuslaw Watershed Council’s summer camp for middle and higher school-age kids. I was to meet the group at the Forest Service’s Fivemile-Bell project, about which I’d read a lot but never seen.
It looked simple enough to find, tucked just east of Tahkenitch Lake near the Pacific Ocean. I’m geographically-challenged in the woods and the directions were a bit vague (“After you turn left from hwy 101 on Five Mile Road (I forget the actual mileage), you will go past Thakenitch Lake. You’ll get to the bottom of a valley, go past a house and small wetlands on your left and before you go back up the hill, there will be a white fence and then a gate on your right. That’s us.“). It didn’t help matters that I blithely went “back up the hill,” (30% grades) for several miles before realizing my error and backtracking. Having given myself an extra half-hour, I was more-or-less on time. The kids and I chatted about owls, salmon and national forest tree thinning.
About ten years ago, the Forest Service bought the 640-acre cattle and hay homestead along Fivemile and Bell creeks to restore coho habitat. Its plans are ambitious. Some old dikes have been removed. Invasive plants are being treated with Glyphosate, mowing and excavation (canary reed grass makes a deep mat that is a bitch to remove). While there, I saw a log loader putting some alder and fir logs into a small tributary creek.