Things are quiet east of Lost River. Actually, they usually are. We have a policy at SLIME, like Las Vegas and paraphrasing, that what I hear here stays here unless I get permission to use it. It does not apply to things of general information (no gossip) and events — and certainly not politics or religion.
The article in last week’s paper regarding the three projects in which the Yakama Nation is engaging was of particular interest, as one of these will involve the old Fender Mill property a quarter-mile west of our Mazama news bureau. Already there is a big excavator on site, and I hope this week to see if or what it has done or is poised to do.
The area under construction/rehabilitation lies in an area widely known for the large sign that has resided there for years. At this writing the verbiage escapes me but it has to do with weeds being a bad thing and about preventing them. This may well be the weediest place in West Boesel along Highway 20, and the irony is that the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has owned it for many years.
The mill closed down many years ago. I was told by a man who lived on the property when his father worked at the mill in the 1930s that there was a small town there, and when I accompanied this gent on a walk he remembered where his house was. He told me there were three small streets on the property, and the rudiments of the main drag are still there.
A fish wheel was installed before my time here in 1968, and some years after that, now in residence, we watched the upgrading of the wheel to prevent fish escapement into the ditch that flows (or flowed) behind our place and ran water to irrigate the Big Valley Ranch. It was the Rockview Ditch. The escapement hatch opened to a small creek that carried water and fish back to the Methow River from whence it had come — a half-mile round trip for water and fish.
About a decade ago the fish wheel was shut down, along with the Rockview Ditch. Then the fish wheel and its foundations were removed.
Shortly thereafter, a crew of fisheries folks began work on a newer and better ditch for the salmon. Equipment rolled in, earth was pushed aside and the new fishway emerged from the area of the mill, running at an angle from the old one. This new one was wider and ostensibly deeper and would transport the fledgling salmon on a more comfortable, if lengthier swim back to the Methow.
Some of us have watched for years and never seen any water in it except snowmelt or short-lived heavy rain. When the Rockview was functioning, water came from the river through a primitive wooden gate and proceeded to the fish wheel. As I (may) understand it, the current plan is to tap groundwater to fill the new fish highway. We’ll keep an eye on it and report periodically on the progress. My guess is there are about 116 fish biologists in the valley, and maybe among them the system will function.
From the center of more down-to-earth happenings, Alice Rimby reports the hummingbirds are back at her place adjacent to the Mazama Store, and the geese are alight above.
At Harts Pass, the water content is at 98 percent, snow level up 6 inches from last week at 78 inches.