The clean, cold, cascading water of the White Salmon River, flowing from Mount Adams glaciers and pristine springs to the Columbia River, supports and attracts a tremendous diversity of flora and fauna. It is the pulsing heart of our local ecosystems. FWSR’s “Ribbon of Life” blog series highlights eyewitness accounts and images of the many delightful species who rely upon the remarkable qualities of the White Salmon River.
Posting #1: The American Dipper
Above the rushing sound of foaming whitewater, high-pitched whistles and trills rise from the White Salmon River into the cool morning air. Suddenly, one of the many small grey lava rocks protruding above the water’s surface in midstream unexpectedly moves and mysteriously disappears beneath the surface of the icy water. After several moments, an American Dipper (also called “water ouzel”) pops up in a small pool at the water’s edge and hops onto the dry surface of a tall rock. It takes a bow, followed by another, and then another, dipping up and down repeatedly before settling down to preen its dark bluish-grey plumage. This amazing swimming songbird forages on aquatic insects, larvae, small fish, tadpoles, crayfish, and fish eggs by diving, swimming, and wading through the swift water, utterly undaunted by frigid strong currents. The Dipper lowers a clear membrane over its eyes to see underwater, seals water out of its nostrils with scales, and navigates using eddies and backflows to its advantage. There it sits, on a rock that formed tens to hundreds of thousands of years ago from cooling magma flows on Mount Adams, warming up and grooming its “dry suit” of feathers into perfect well-oiled condition, as needed to insulate the Dipper from the freezing waters. After ten minutes, it flies low over the water to another rock downstream, and then dives back into the river to continue its hunt for food. The American Dipper, while declining across the West from poor land management practices that have caused habitat degradation and loss, pollution, and riverbank erosion, is still thriving in the White Salmon River! A joy to see!
The FWSR Board has filed its first appeal of a land use action to Superior Court. All prior FWSR appeals have been administrative appeals through the Klickitat County Planning Department and County Commissioner process.
For Immediate Release. January 13, 2011
Trout Lake, Washington – Friends of the White Salmon River (FWSR), a non-profit conservation group based in Klickitat County, has filed suit in Superior Court to challenge Klickitat County’s approval of a subdivision on an 83.5 acre parcel in the White Salmon River watershed. The subdivision is occurring in an area zoned for resource land use and which has a threatened population of western gray squirrels. The suit alleges that the County failed to demonstrate that there was any “public need” for additional rural subdivisions that would justify development of high quality farm and forest land. It also claims that the County ignored cumulative impacts from the developers’ plans for adjacent development projects and prior land divisions of questionable legality, though not questioned by the County. The suit comes at a time when the County is considering a major zoning revision that would open up hundreds of acres of land along the White Salmon River in the BZ/ Husum area to expanded residential development.
“If our County is going to have viable farm and timber operations 20 years from now, it is not going to happen by accident,” says FWSR’s Chairperson Pat Arnold. “The developers in this case have recorded covenants for residential uses on the entire 300+ acre Lyon’s Ranch. The County needs to consider the impact of such a significant loss in farm and forest land before letting the horses out of the barn. The responsible County officials cannot just look at the most recent short plat as an isolated project.”
“The White Salmon River Valley has huge importance for our region because of its scenic, recreational and wildlife values, as well as its role in the local economy. It may be easier for Klickitat County to approve any development project that comes along, but there is nothing to support the conclusion that further residential development of prime resource lands would benefit the public more than preserving farm and forest lands for their long-term values.”
Friends of the White Salmon River was formed in 1976 with the mission of protecting the environmental, natural resource, and recreational values of the entire White Salmon River watershed.