Throughout Oregon, we enjoy an abundance of rivers, streams, and other bodies of water. But how much do we really know about these ever-connected aquatic veins, which meander throughout much of the West Coast. Here, Phillip Elden answers a few common questions on rivers.
Q: What do all rivers and streams have in common?
Phillip Elden: While no two rivers look exactly alike, they are all similar in that they begin high. The high point of a running body of water can be found in an elevated area such as a mountain or hill. Rivers often begin as snowmelt, or are initiated by a natural spring. Small streams almost always find their way to one another to become larger rivers and rivers always find their way to a larger body of water, such as a lake or ocean.
Phillip Elden, and Oregon-based conservation specialist, says that one of the best ways to fully appreciate what Mother Nature has provided is to get out into the big wide world. And there are plenty of ways to do just that without having to pitch a tent and rough it for the weekend.
According to Phillip Elden, over the last couple of decades, there has been a trend toward wilderness travel. This means people are taking vacations that emphasize nature over urban areas. In Washington, for example, the Alderbrook Resort and Spa gives visitors access to more than 500 acres of hiking and incorporates a mountain theme throughout the expansive resort.
Visitors to Yellowstone National Park have a less luxurious but equally impressive experience awaiting at the Old Faithful Inn, the famous resort built in 1903. Phillip Elden notes that this historic landmark is void of luxuries including air-conditioning and television. Instead, it encourages vacationers to take advantage of the surrounding landscape and to spend time outdoors.
In a perfect world, campfires would stay contained and be used only for s’mores and hot dogs. However, it’s not a perfect world and the vast majority of wildfires, which are sometimes fatal, are caused by careless campers. Phillip Elden says education is the best weapon against tragedy.
According to Phillip Elden, your first priority if you’re planning to build a campfire is to make sure that your particular site allows fires in the first place. Check with your local park ranger to see if there are burn bans in place and pay attention to the wind. A mild breeze is likely not a problem, however, high winds can easily send smoldering debris through the air, and leave your fire out of control.
You already know you aren’t supposed to feed wild animals but do you know why? Here, conservation strategist Phillip Elden offers four answers to that very important question.
1. Your food wasn’t made for animal bellies.
According to Phillip Elden, people food does not contain the right balance of protein and fat to be healthy to wild animals. In fact, feeding the ducks and geese at the local lake can even deform the animals you’re trying to help out. Waterfowl that subsist on a diet of human-provided crackers, bread, and popcorn may develop “angel wings,” wings that aren’t strong enough to fly.
2. Feeding wild animals makes them less fearful of people.
You’re scared of wolves and bears but they, along with most other creatures, are also afraid of you. When you feed deer and other seemingly docile critters, you allow them to lose this fear and that’s not a good thing. Phillip Elden cautions that animals that become comfortable around humans can quickly become a hazard.
Phillip Elden has dedicated his life – both personally and professionally — to the conserving land and animals in his home state of Oregon. Here, the Native Oregon founder talks about tree conservation strategies that can be implemented by homeowners across the nation.
Q: Why is tree conservation important?
Phillip Elden: Trees are one of our most important natural resources. Not only do they help clear the air of pollutants, they also a provide valuable habitat for thousands of animals across North America. Birds and squirrels, for instance, make their homes in and around trees while certain insects rely on the canopy shade for survival.
Q: How can community leaders discuss tree conservation efforts with township citizens?
Phillip Elden: The first step would be to obtain and distribute information regarding local trees and wildlife. This can be culled from horticulturists, landscape architects, and forestry professionals. Information can then be discussed in length at community meetings.
Grab your fishing gear, get your license, and pull up your wading pants as Phillip Elden shares information on one of Oregon’s greatest pastimes: fly fishing.
Q: How is fly fishing different from boat or bank fishing?
Phillip Elden: Fly fishing is usually done standing up with your body in the water. It’s a fast-action way to catch trout and other game fish throughout the state. Unlike catfishing or bass fishing, fly fishing requires constant movement of the arms, making it a great form of exercise.
Q: What is different about the equipment and strategy?
Phillip Elden: A traditional rod and reel combo uses a clear line. Fly fishing line is different in that it is heavily weighted. When you fish from a boat, you cast your line and let the bait or lure sink a bit – unless you’re using a topwater lure. When you fly fish, you cast about 20 feet, watch for the fly to hit the tip of the water and re-cast.
Q: How do I know where to cast?
Phillip Elden: You need to learn to read the water. If you’re on a river with pocket waters, the fish will behave differently than if you’re on a fast-moving, shallow river. One of the fundamentals (and half the fun) of fly fishing is getting to know the water and how the fish behave in each area and time of day.
Q: It has been said that fly fishing is one of the more frustrating of sports. Is that true?
Phillip Elden: It can be absolutely. But with practice and patience, it’s also a sport that gets easier with time. I always tell people just starting out to forget about the catch and just go for the experience. There is something peaceful about hearing a rushing mountain stream as it circles past your knees. More than a recreational opportunity, fishing is a chance to get back to nature.
With its diverse landscape and abundant wildlife, Oregon is a top vacation destination all year. Here, conservation specialist Phillip Elden reports on one aspect people don’t often take into consideration when visiting for the first time: the weather.
Oregon is a fickle state, says Phillip Elden, with wildly varying temperatures and unpredictable weather patterns. In summer, for instance, Medford in the southern part of the state enjoys highs in the low 90-degree range. Much of the coast rarely jumps above the 75 to 80-degree mark. Throughout the state, low temps can drop by 20 to 30 degrees throughout the year.
Winter in Oregon is very cold with average temperatures dipping into the 20s and lots of snow in many regions. Phillip Elden notes that the Mt. Hood and Columbia River Gorge can get as much as 60 inches of snow in a single season; Portland doesn’t see snow that often but averages nearly 6 inches of rain in the cooler months. And rain can be an all-day event although hardly ever a washout.
Phillip Elden explains that precipitation also varies wildly by regions. A few coastal areas, which experience more humidity than inland regions, can get soaked with more than 200 inches of rain each year. The desert region gets nowhere near that. The Alvord Desert is bone dry with 5 inches of rain on an average year.
According to Phillip Elden, the diverse landscape and morphing climate makes the perfect environment for wildlife. As a conservation advocate, Elden says it is up to humans to keep the land in as great a shape as possible so that the climate can do its job of keeping the flora and fauna alive and thriving. He says Oregon is a wonderful place to visit and the weather, although unpredictable at times, is part of the reason to enjoy this coastal gem.