From Loon Lake Rod – Landslides, spring runoffs and migration

Barbara Hendricks' monthly column of community news and events in Loon Lake.

It seems April went past on the run this year. The ground has changed from ice and snow to beige grass and now is becoming quite green. These early spring greens are such wonderful colours with nuances that are very difficult to copy in pigment. Varied colours here in spring are so welcome I even enjoy the sight of that first yellow dandelion blossom!

On April 24, with quickly moving flashes of brilliant ruby, the hummingbirds announced their return. Bald Eagles in various feather stages have been here for some time; some days every tree that I can see along the creek has several eagles in it, the tops all appear decorated with a white head. We have counted 22 circling over the creek at one time, attracted by the spawning fish  and the eagles are eating well this year as the water along Loon Creek –  before Hihium Creek enters it – is very low and the eagles can just walk in the water and pick out a fish for lunch.

Also this month I have been looking quite intensely at the rocky cliffs behind my house and wondering if what happened in Oso, Washington could happen here.  One “expert” I heard said that wherever there is a steep mountainside opening onto a valley, such a slide as that in Oso could happen. Well, that pretty much covers a lot of BC doesn’t it?

I am reminded of the North slide in Black Canyon on the Thompson River below Ashcroft in 1880. A recent report stated that the area between Ashcroft and Basque has a long record of landslides and that the north slide area has shown significant movements as recent as August 2008. The slide in 1880 damned the Thompson River, causing it to back up and flooded areas of what is now the town of Ashcroft. If another major slide occurred in the area much larger damage could occur these days.

One of the problems in Oso was that, although locals and researchers knew that the mountainside was unstable, town based planning authorities permitted housing development to take place. This is an example of the huge dangers of a system where people who have urban and book knowledge have the responsibility to make plans that affect the lives of rural people and rural lands. In my opinion, the people making plans for rural areas should be required to live in rural areas so they will develop a “country” way of seeing things and understand how everything is interconnected.

Back to that rocky cliff – well my research says it is quite solid, being the result of lava flows from ancient volcanoes. Historically, hillsides have slumped and slid in the Loon Lake valley – there is clear evidence that it has happened but not with any frequency and so I sleep better.

Both Hihium Creek and the Bonaparte River are running high and muddy. The ice was gone off Loon Lake just after the Easter weekend and now lakeside property owners are busy repairing docks and wharves that were damaged by the ice. Boats are being put back into the water and water birds are coming back or taking a break as they pass through. Summer residents are returning and construction season is underway as people repair, renovate and undertake new projects and birds build their nests.

Huge V formations of Sandhill cranes have been passing over, heading out to their summer homes and other migrants, like Canada geese, loons and mergansers, are returning or passing through.

The yard and garden now demand much attention as young plants are popping up. Just as the snow removal equipment is put away for the summer it is time to think of getting out the lawnmower. This year I did a lot more mulching of garden plants, especially after the snow left and it seems to be working well in terms of protecting plants from the freezing April nights. Many plants need to be divided so they will continue to grow and blossom with vigour and it seems that the strawberries and raspberries have been very busy over winter sending out roots and runners.  I will be digging many of these up, and potting up some for other gardeners. Once again members of the garden club will be at the Cache Creek market on May 3 with hardy plants from Loon Lake Road.

May means its time for ranchers to turn out cattle on the range. Anyone with adjacent property is reminded to mend their fences if they do not want cattle on their property.

Barbara Hendricks