Forest Fires Mostly Out and the Real Fish and Silt Story

Thursday August 27, 2020 Guerneville CA.

Note: I’ve added Recent Posts to the side bar to make it easier for you to read recent posts as it’s rather hard to get back to them otherwise.

Wrapping up the forest fire

I was a bit slow getting it going today as I woke up a bit on the tired out side, but things needed to be done so I got it going around 9.

I checked in with my brother Tom who lives next door and got some fresh vegetables from him as he’s a farmers market guy.

Once I was properly fed I checked the dirt bike’s gas and headed on up into the hills to see what was going on today.

Dozers everywhere

These are the first guys I ran into at the Y on Pool Ridge Road. They were servicing the dozers and making plans for the day.dozer1


More dozers in the same spot.dozer2


Boss guys

The guys at the back of the truck are bosses making plans and my brother Tom was talking with them. One of the guys was the rehab boss who’ll be getting all the fire breaks and roads ready for winter. He’ll be moving his teams in shortly. I went over and talked with them.command3



This cat rolled in as I was standing there. Dozers all over the place, just like big dragons wondering around the hills bellowing. Maybe that’s where the dragons have been hiding inside these big machines. :O)dozer4


Here’s another view of that area and then I moved on headed to my cousin Laura’s place. Y5


Cousin’s house

I knew she was concerned about whether it burned last night or not as fire was heading for her place as it got dark.

Looks to me like they did a good job of protecting it eh. The fire trucks have left and moved on. Good job guys.house6


From there I rode up to what is called the turn around where I knew more guys would be and this was the view there. Lots of fire trucks making plans for the day. There’s still some spot fires behind and below them that they are dealing with but nothing serious.tricls7


Pack Station Road

I talked with some more guys there and then went down the Pack Station road where they set up a backfire line last night as the fire was burning to it at dark.

They stopped the fire which burned up to the road on the left. Good job.spots8


The new shift was just coming on walking up the road. Last night the guys working here would have been working real hard as the fire hit the road. I heard they set back fires on this road last night. My Cousin’s house is just above this area.fire9


A fresh crew of what I think are inmates are walking up the road to help in the mop up work. I thanked them as I went by.guys10


Armstrong tree never was in danger

Just a scene in the park to show things are good. This is near the Armstrong tree which was always safe even though the news guys made a big deal of it. There were only slow burning fires around it and it and the other trees were never in any danger of burning as lots of fire trucks were parked right by it the whole time. They all did a good job.park11


Letting my cousin know

I went on home to call my brother Barry and give him a report and asked him to call my cousin so she could relax. I needed a good break after that.

Rick shows up

I was sitting in a chair relaxing when Rick Decarly rode up on his dirt bike. I needed to rest a bit so I told him to ride up into the hills and I’d meet him up there somewhere a bit later so off he rode.

What the Santa Rosa commander wants

Eventually I rode back up into the hills and rode back to the Pool Ridge Y where I was earlier this morning and the scene looked like this. Note the red car in the middle.boss13


That car belongs to a commander and his car says Santa Rosa on it. He has at least two radios on his chest that he listens to constantly even when you are talking with him. I went over to chat and find out what’s going on as he is in the know and knows what’s going on. I’ve had some good talks with him.commander14


He tells me the fire guys would like to establish the old fire roads and breaks on a yearly basis like they did in the old days. The state used to keep up all the fire trails around Guerneville and especially around Armstrong Redwoods Park and stopped around 1960 for some reason.

This would allow them to keep things up and map things so it wouldn’t take so long to get to any fire in our area. This area is different than most places as the mountain sides are very wooded and steep, steeper than most places.

Sounds like a good idea to me, yes sir.

I catch up with Rick and off we go

Also note that there are two dirt bikes in the photo above. Rick Decarly joined me. He’s shooting the bull with some dozer guys about dirt bikes.

Let’s ride

After I chatted with some guys I said to Rick, knock off the bull and let’s ride. Off we went to check out some places I didn’t have time to check out earlier when the fire was real active.

We rode on down through  my cousin’s place and down to the Hulbert creek area. An area we used to ride in when we were kids. Lots of stuff was different after all these years and we had a hard time recognizing a lot of the old roads.

After going down Hulbert creek to the Guernewood Park Road we turned around and rode up the creek to see how the Buchanan place faired.

Buchanan place

It faired very well and was still standing. No one was around as Buchanan had evacuated as he’s an older guy.rick115


From there we took another road we passed to see where it went. Part of why I came over here was to familiarize myself with the roads.

I had to do some real dirt biking up some real soft roads the dozers cut fire breaks on. The dirt was real dry and soft and dusty. Rick’s bike is has much more power than mine does and he was having a blast riding around. He also knows this area better than I and kept me from getting lost more than once.


We rode up this road and ran into this guy named Finn, I think. He stopped for only a sec as he was headed to a hot spot that needed some attention.finn16


We road up the road where I almost broke my neck but I made it keeping up with Rick.

Bush place

We ran into these guys Rick knew, one was named Bush on the right. I gave them what info I had on the fire.bush16


It was time to get out of there so we headed up the road to the turn around area where I was at this morning.They had a fire line there they were watching as they’d started a back fire there. Right away Rick started talking motorcycles with one of the guys resting on the ground because the guy recognized what his hot bike was. I went over to the other guys and talked fire.rick18


They let us pass

We rode up the road more when we ran into these guys. The dozer was opening that fire break that went up to my cousin’s house.. Note the guy on the right. He has radios on his chest so he’s a commander or boss keep in touch with what was going on.dozer19


Back fires

Up the road a little further these guys were watching and keeping the fire on the left side of the road. They set a backfire to burn out the forest fuel so no fire will burn through the spot after they do that as there’s no fuel left to burn.line20


Riding down through our place

From the top of the hill we needed to get down to my house so we discussed it. Go down through the park or go down through our place taking the long way. The long way it was.

We hit this fire break my brother laid out for them and they’d come back and widened it out and it was real loose and dusty and steeper than it looks so Rick went for it and made it to the top as I watched. He made it on the first try and is coming back down as I didn’t want to go up it as I was already bushed.rick21


Checking our water

We came out at our water tanks where I put my ear to the side of the tank to hear if the water was still flowing in as the fire guys might have broken one of our pipes but all was good.tanks22


Strawberry patch

Rick took off for home and I headed for the strawberry patch where  I filled up on strawberries and ate a couple of ripe plums.garden23


I rode on home and rested up chair hopping around the yard between naps.

My fish and the silt story or Muddy water

Now I said I’d tell you a story about spawning fish and silt not being bad for them and in fact it might just be a part of what they need to survive.

I’ll start off saying I have no axe to grind on this nor any money to be made by me. You note there are no adds on my website or any money  making stuff so what I have to say is not from short studies by urbanite city people. I’ve lived here and grown up here with what I have to say. In other words what I have to say I’ve lived, not just studied although I do a bit of that too.

I’ll also state that I’m very good at solving complex problems in extremely technical stuff as I worked at HP in the Reliability Physics Lab solving very complex problems  in electronic parts and processes and I was extremely good at it.

So let’s get started

When I was a kid I watched big fish spawn occasionally so I know what and how they do it.

They swim up stream to the head of the creeks until they can’t go any further, stopping when the creek gets too small or goes up too steep for them to go. They go up into the creeks that are less then two feet wide if they can make it even the biggest salmon and steelhead. It surprises me how far up these big fish can go.

Now creeks and rivers are actually silt separators. As the water flows down stream it separates out the silt depositing gravels and sand and fine silt along it, separating it. The big fish need new silt to make new gravel to spawn so it’s important to get new silt at least once in a while or the water beds would get too hard and they couldn’t spawn.

Silt doesn’t bother them. They get into it and wiggle away in the current causing the fine silt to flow down the stream leaving the heavier gravel to make their spawning bed to spawn.

That’s the first incorrect thing about silt and fish but there is more, much more.

Now I’ve been kayaking the river around here and down in the estuary at Jenner since I got my kayak in 2002 and I do it every day when I can even during the winter at high water so I’ve lived with what’s going on down there for quite some time and I’ve been especially studying the big fish when they come into the river and the little fish as they return  to the ocean.

What I’ve observed is this

When the water is muddy, almost no big fish get eaten by harbor seals or river otters nor do any fishermen catch them so they can go up and spawn and the ones that return to the ocean can safely do so for a successful spawn. That’s a big thing, a huge thing for the fish, as harbor seals at the river’s mouth really nail them. There’s no dead fish from the muddy water, only healthy live fish.

There’s more, you bet

Now the hatchery fish and the hatched wild egg fish have to get back to the sea.

When they go back down the river headed to the sea, thousands of cormorants and other fish eating birds eat the 4 to 12 inch fish by the thousands. They just wait for the hatcheries to release the fish to head for the ocean and eat a huge number of them along with the harbor seals and river otters. Everything loves to eat the tender little fish headed for the ocean, but most don’t make it. They also love to eat the tired out fish that have spawned and are trying to make it back to the ocean and they eat a lot of them when the water is clear.

Except, guess when

You guessed it. When the waters are muddy and silty most of them make it and the critters have to find something else to eat.

And none of these fish die because the water is muddy, it’s the other way around.

Fish and silt go together

Actually I think the fish depend on muddy water not the other way around.

So how did they get it wrong

I found from working at HP solving very old problems which I took great satisfaction in solving that people tend to blame what they can see but what they can see often throws them off from solving the real problem so the problem continues and is not solved.

Sheep principle

The next biologist comes along and reads the first report and copies it as it’s easy money and easy to see the muddy water and it doesn’t ‘buck the system so there’s no problems. It’s the old sheep principle if you know what that is.

I could go on and on about this but that’s enough to get you started so think about it and let’s get this silt thing put to bed for good and get on with getting the fish back.

One other problem is most of the fish’s predators were also killed off and used for clothing not too long  ago and now they are coming back faster than the fish and eating a lot of them.

Nature doesn’t care and will eventfully equal things out but it will take a long time.

Let’s get it right and stop being sheep eh. :O)

That’s the story and I’m sticking to it.

Fantastic ride

Rick and I had a great ride riding around old places we’d been as kids that brought back a lot of old memories.

Great day and the fire is mostly out in our area. Super.

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10 Responses to Forest Fires Mostly Out and the Real Fish and Silt Story

  1. rachel says:

    I want to kayak with you when things calm down!

    I love your blog, as you know. Your perspective is wonderful. I know a fish ecologist who I’m going to point toward your thoughts on silt. I’m really worried about the fish post-fire. I want you to be right! I try to be open minded, even when it’s not what I’ve been taught – and I’d love to be wrong about my worries especially.

  2. Kim bush says:

    Hi. My name is Kim Bush.
    I absolutely love info and all the pics of my neighbors places.
    Although your info on The Bushs place is not at all aqurate.
    The pic I believe is the old Dickinson ranch,(Peg and Richs) some one named ally lives there. ( I believe). The man on the right is not Bush ( my husband)
    The rest was wonderfully accurate and most wonderful to see and read. Thank you so much. For documenting this.

  3. Ken Solbakken says:

    Thanks again Bob!
    I’ve been reading your blogs for quite a while now. You mentioned the silt and muddy water before and I agree.

    So when are you going to stop wearing out your brother’s motorcycle? Maybe a KTM like Rick’s might work for you? Did you get a chance to test ride the KTM. They are little pricey, but make challenging trails a lot easier once you get used to them. Years ago I met up with Rick and his older brother Mike riding the Sawmill Enduro. It would have been fun to ride those new fire trails with you and Rick, although my Honda 50 would make them.

  4. Dan Spengler says:

    Dan Spengler
    Rely have enjoyed the daily chronicles of your activities during the Wahlberg fire.
    Good to hear that Cal Fire maybe coming full circle on maintenance and mapping of old logging and fire break roads. Hopefully the Feds come around too. Many of these roads in California have not seen a Dozer on them for 40 to 50 years. As we have seen in last few years this is bad news when fighting fires. Airplanes and Hand Crews can only do so much.
    Also would like to hear your views sometime on Dams and river slit.

    • bob says:

      Hi Dan,
      I did a post yesterday on my silt views. My dam views are damming rivers and streams is bad for fish as they can stop them from getting into upper spawning grounds. I didn’t used to think this way about dams but I was living out in the hills by Warm Springs when they built Warm springs dam, and I knew how many nice spawning streams were above it so my views started to change on that subject. Divert the water to a storage area or whatever if need be but don’t dam the rivers for the fish’s sake.

  5. Tom Henderson says:

    I have enjoyed your “chronicles of the fire”, along with the other subjects mixed in. As we sat around evacuated amidst the pandemic, not knowing what the hell was really going on, we had your tire and foot prints on the ground to keep ourselves somewhat “in the loop.” It provided a well-deserved diversion, and return to our river youth of catching lizards & skinks, kicking dirt clods and even skipping rocks. This was entertaining. Thank you.

  6. David B. says:

    Yo Bob, Thanks for your time and trouble and the great reports that I looked forward to every morning. My thanks to all the fire crews. Great job, guys. Many thanks.

  7. Nancy K says:

    I’m in total agreement on the fish! People that don’t see it every day, don’t get it.
    Happy the fires are mostly out in that area. Those guys are awesome, and the dozer operators deserve medals! Although I have to say, there’s nothing more fun than operating a D9 or 10 all day long. What a rush!! I’m looking forward to things slowing down for you.

  8. Bill Henderson says:

    Very interesting.. (.’;;;;;<

  9. Arrowhead Gramma says:

    Great report and such good news. What a relieve to all living in your area. Try to rest and relax, you deserve to.

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