Monthly Archives: July 2019

Forest Service employees on team recognized by EPA award for Drinking Water Partnership

A view of the Blue River Reservoir, located between Finn River and McKenzie Bridge on the Willamette National Forest, Oregon. USDA Forest Service photo (undated file photo)

PORTLAND, Ore. (July 20, 2019) — The Environmental Protection Agency recognized the USDA Forest Service’s Pacific Northwest regional fisheries biologist and regional Aquatic and Riparian Effectiveness Monitoring Plan program lead for their contributions as part of a multi-agency federal team that established a now four-year-old partnership to encourage and fund watershed improvement efforts.

Jim Capurso, Pacific Northwest regional fisheries biologist for the USDA Forest Service, and Christine Hirsch, Pacific Northwest Aquatic and Riparian Effectiveness Monitoring Plan (AREMP) Program Lead, were among six federal employees honored at the 2018 EPA National Honors awards July 10 for Outstanding Leadership in Collaborative Problem Solving, in recognition of their contributions as the Forest Service representatives to the Drinking Water Providers Partnership, of which the EPA and Bureau of Land Management are also members.

The Drinking Water Providers Partnership is a regional program that brings public and private partners together to select – and fund – projects that contribute to improving drinking water quality and watershed protection in the Pacific Northwest.

Mike Brown and Scott Lightcap, from the Bureau of Land Management, and Teresa Kubo and Michelle Tucker, from EPA Region 10, were also recognized as members of the federal team.

The Drinking Water Providers Partnership provides a mechanism for federal, state, local, and several non-government partners to collaboratively evaluate projects and share decisions about how to distribute pooled funds towards projects that reduce erosion and sedimentation, improve aquatic organism passage, increase the complexity of currents in streams and floodplains, address contamination or other issues related to legacy mining projects, perform vegetation management, and conduct public outreach and education efforts.

The collaborative decision-making model allows the partners to consider and prioritize projects where they will do the most good at a regional scale.

Local partners create the projects and pool resources for action – but if they need additional resources to complete the work, they can request additional funding at the regional level.

Capurso said that while the agencies face many hurdles in securing present and future water quality and native fish habitat against the many challenging issues they face, the success of the Drinking Water Providers Partnership partnership shows agencies and organizations are improving in their ability effectively collaborate across jurisdictional boundaries and rally behind common goals.

“When we were establishing this partnership, we literally went door to door visiting city and town water providers in the Cascade Mountains and Coast Range,” Capurso said. “Everywhere we went, from the ‘one horse’ towns to the larger cities, water providers were supportive, even excited, about the partnership.”

During its first four years, the Drinking Water Providers partnership has awarded more than $2.3 million in federal, state, and private funding towards watershed restoration, protection and improvement projects in Oregon and Washington.

Projects on seven national forests, including the Willamette, Umpqua, Wallowa-Whitman, Olympic, Okanogan-Wenatchee, Siuslaw, Gifford Pinchot, and Umatilla National Forests, to protect or improve drinking water supplies in more than a dozen communities (including Walla Walla, Cashmere, Leavenworth, Port Townsend Wash. and Glide, Eugene, Langlois, Cave Junction, Myrtle Point, Lincoln City, and Yachats, Ore.) received funds from partnership in 2019.

In addition to traditional projects, such as infrastructure repair, vegetation planting, and returning large wood to restore water current complexity to streams, some of the 2019 awards funded conservation education efforts:

The Umatilla National Forest and City of Walla Walla received funds for a documentary film on the Mill Creek Municipal Watershed as a drinking water source and how it serves as important wildlife habitat which will be used for education and outreach in the surrounding community.

Cascadia Conservation District partnered with Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest on a project to education farmers, tree-fruit growers and viticulturalists in the Wenatchee watershed about best practices for protecting water quality and potentially achieving the Salmon-Safe certification for their products.

And the Olympic National Forest and City of Port Townsend will use some of the funds awarded for protecting the Big and Little Quilcene Rivers through improved sanitation facilities for managing human waste at recreation areas, and signage and even field ranger outreach to inform the public about proper human waste disposal and the dangers presented by fecal contamination of the city’s drinking water supply.

Other funds are allocated for research towards future water quality improvement and watershed protection opportunities.

The partnership awarded a 2019 grant to Trout Unlimited towards developing a GIS model that uses existing data to identify high-impact opportunities for beaver location on the Upper Columbia River. The McKenzie River Trust received funds to research into potential land acquisition opportunities to protect the drinking water source watershed for the City of Yachats.

More information:

Drinking Water Providers Partnership:

Presentation re: USDA Forest Service – Pacific Northwest region’s role in the partnership:

Source information: USDA Forest Service – Pacific Northwest Region (staff report)

Forest Feature: Herons

Wildlife like this majestic Great Blue Heron make their home in and along the lower Duwamish River in western Washington State. You might also catch glimpses of eagles, ospreys, seals, and otters when traveling along the river. EPA added about five miles of the lower reach of the river to its list of Superfund cleanup sites in 2001. Visit to learn more about EPA's efforts to clean up and restore the lower Duwamish River. U.S. EPA photo.

It’s July? Where did half the summer go! Let’s all take a moment to breathe, relax, and experience the present while reflecting on this month’s Forest Feature, the graceful heron.

Herons are wading birds in the Ardeidae family. There are dozens of species (including bitterns and egrets). Herons feed on fish and small aquatic animals.

They are important birds that appear frequently in traditional folklore from many cultures, including Greek, Aztec, Celtic, Chinese, and Egyptian, and the Nisqually Indians, a Native American tribe from the south Puget Sound region of western Washington state.

There are many species of heron that are prevalent in the Pacific Northwest, but these are a few of the most prominent species:

Great Blue Heron: One of the most easily spotted and found throughout much of the United States, this massive bird (with a wingspan up to 6 and a half feet wide!) is as handsome as it is graceful. You can find great blue herons wading across an impressively diverse habitat range: from brackish to freshwater systems, agricultural and suburban landscapes, wetlands and sloughs.

Green Heron: Smaller than many other herons, the green heron uses a different strategy to hunt. Standing still, it waits for small fish and amphibians to wander within striking range. Once prey is near, the move quickly! You won’t see more than a quick flash of green and brown before the green heron gulps its dinner.

Black-Crowned Night Heron: A generalist in the true sense of the word, this bird is the most widespread heron in the world. It’s a social animal, often nesting with other herons, egrets, and ibises. The oldest Night Heron on record was a 21-year old female.


Are you inspired to spend more time with this remarkable bird, the heron

Source information: Forest Features highlight a new Pacific Northwest species (or sometimes, a family, order, kingdom, or genus) each month as part of the USDA Forest Service – Pacific Northwest Region’s regional youth engagement strategy.

If you’d like fact sheets, activities, or links to other educational resources about this topic – and for information about other ways the Forest Service can help incorporate environmental education and forest science in your classroom – email

In the news: Wolf Creek Job Corps firefighters assist rescue flight

On June 21, 2019, Wolf Creek Job Corps student students assisted a REACH-8 Air Medical Services crew evacuate an injured motorist from the Umpqua National Forest. At left, a satellite image of the students creating a light ring to identify a field where the helicopter would land. At right, students involved in the rescue post for a photo. USDA Forest service photos.

Firefighting students at the Wolf Creek Job Corps recently called on their emergency response skills to aid an injured motorist.

Members of the center’s staff called 911 after a second motorist drove 20 miles to the center to report a vehicle crash on the Umpqua National Forest. The injured motorist was transported by ambulance to the center, and a REACH flight helicopter was called in.

“Normally the ground unit that is requesting us sets up a pre-determined landing area or has a local fire department assist with this task,” Brittany Countryman, a REACH flight crew member and registered nurse, wrote in a letter to the center’s firefighters and staff. “On this very dark night there was no one available to help us land or locate a safe place to land. Troy and the group of young men that met us were fast; we made the decision to try to land at the Job Corps field and within minutes there was a well-lit area to guide us in.”

June 21, 2019 satellite image of Wolf Creek Job Corps Civilian Conservation Center firefighters gathered in formation on the Wolf Creek Job Corps baseball field to assist a REACH-8 Air Medical Services Agusta A109 Power helicopter land and take off safely during a nighttime emergency airlift. USDA Forest service photo.

The student firefighters gathered in formation to simulate a ring of helicopter landing zone lights that allowed the air medical services crew to land safely on the center’s baseball field, which served as the extraction point. They also helped off-load the stabilized patient from the ground ambulance, and transported her across the Little River to the helicopter.

“Wolf Creek fire students are trained to respond to all risk incidents under the incident command structure,” Gabe Wishart, the center’s director, said.  “Our students’ ability to respond under stress, follow instruction, and to work safely in atypical situations such as this medical evacuation demonstrates the effectiveness of that training.” 

Full story, via USDA Forest Service:

On June 21, 2019, Wolf Creek Job Corps student students assisted a REACH-8 Air Medical Services crew evacuate an injured motorist from the Umpqua National Forest. USDA Forest service photo.

In the News: Pack it in, pack it out

"Trash No Land" Target Shooting Cleanup Event near Fish Creek, Mt. Hood National Forest for Earth Day, 2013. USDA Forest Service photo by Trent Deckard.

In recent years, recreation visits have steadily increased on national forests… and the problem of discarded trash sometimes seems to have increased exponentially with the increase in visitors.

KMTR-TV 16 helped staff remind western and central Oregon communities. that trash dumping isn’t welcome on the Willamette National Forest or any other public lands.

The story aired a few days before Independence Day holiday, an especially busy time for recreational visits to National Forests all around the country.

Many forest visitors have heard frequent admonitions from federal, state and local agencies – as well as environmental advocates – to “leave no trace.” But many still fail to realize that discarded trash isn’t just a nuisance; it can be an environmental hazard, threaten wildlife health and safety, and even have adverse impacts on human health.

Trash found littering the forest floor near Cougar Reservoir, Willamette National Forest, Ore., Oct. 3, 2010. USDA Forest Service photo.
Trash found littering the forest floor near Cougar Reservoir, Willamette National Forest, Ore., Oct. 3, 2010. USDA Forest Service photo.

Phosphorous-heavy soaps and detergents can foster algae and microbe growth – which can result in algae blooms that irritate eyes and skin for humans and wildlife, or other algae growth that trap oxygen needed by fish when it decomposes in the lakes and streams where they live.

Pet waste may carry parasites or microbes that are deadly to wildlife.

And while all trash litters the natural landscapes others come to the forest to enjoy, some creates health and safety hazards for those who encounter it – while also creating many hours of work for volunteers and federal land managers who must train for, plan, and conduct a safe and thorough clean-up of the affected area when such dumping occurs.

Full story, via KMTV-16:

Dump Stoppers trash haulers, 4XNation volunteers, and Mt. Hood National Forest Staff clean up thousands of pounds of trash dumped at La Dee Flats, Mt. Hood National Forest, Ore. during a 2019 forest clean-up event. USDA Forest Service photo.
Dump Stoppers trash haulers, 4XNation volunteers, and Mt. Hood National Forest Staff clean up thousands of pounds of trash dumped at La Dee Flats, Mt. Hood National Forest, Ore. during a 2019 forest clean-up event. USDA Forest Service photo.