July 22nd, 2005

nerd

A day out on the river

I had a nice refreshing change of pace yesterday. I got out of the office and went down south to check on the condition of the river. The Spring high flows are now nothing but memories. The Rio Grande is slowly drying up and there is concern about the fate of the endangered silvery minnow. We had a feeling that because prime habitat was available the little buggers would spawn like crazy. It appears that was the case. In one little channel several thousand fish were found. This is an extremely good sign since last year very few fish were found anywhere in the river. The only problem is that we are only allowed to kill a set # of fish in any year. This made sense when there were few fish to be found. This year it appears as though they reproduced in huge numbers. Whereas it would have taken in previous years large stretches of river to dry to kill the number that would get us into serious legal trouble, this year we could kill that number by drying up one pool. That's what happens when you use a set number instead of some sort of percentage.

I finally made it out to the point where the river is now completely plugged with sediment and is trying to establish a new channel somewhere else. It was a pretty amazing sight. Being schooled in geomorphology, I know that a river constantly tries to establish an equilibrium between the slope/width/depth/velocity/and sediment content. A river will make adjustments to its channel to accommodate changes in any parameter. Obviously the river did not like its position and is trying to establish a new and better flowpath. Of course we will go in there with excavators and put the river back into its old path. *facepaws*

I managed to do a good deed. At one site the water was only a few inches deep. I saw a fish flopping in the shallow water. It appeared to be near death. I picked it up and flung it into a deeper pool. I expected it to be floating belly up, but it soon started swimming happily away. I was pleased with myself! Someone then mentioned I probably denied dinner to a raccoon or coyote. Ooops. No good deed goes unpunished.
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