OREGON FIELD GUIDE takes a look at how experts and prison inmates are teaming up to conduct research and grow and protect a variety of resources for large-scale restoration projects. Tune in to the stations of Oregon Public Broadcasting on Thursday, May 5 at 8:30 and see how an innovative sustainable prison project is helping the environment inside as well as outside one Washington State’s prison’s walls. Also see how the ancient practice of log drives is still affecting Oregon’s rivers, and get an update on the status of the sharp-tailed grouse.
Sustainable Prison Project – Back in 2003, Cedar Creek Correctional Center just outside of Olympia, needed to expand inmate capacity, but its water treatment ability was maxed out. Superintendent Dan Pacholke called on a professor Nalini Nadkarni at Evergreen College for help in teaching inmates about water conservation. The response was so overwhelmingly positive that Nadkarni invited colleagues to come in and talk about their areas of science. Before long, the inmates had planted an organic garden, began composting, and the Sustainable Prison Project was born. Realizing this was something special, Pacholke and Nadkarni began looking for larger scale science and conservation projects to bring in. Now, a frog-rearing program promises to help restore a species to the South Sound eco region by 2025, and a prairie grass-growing project will help with the restoration of Fort Lewis’s prairielands. It’s a win-win situation that is providing more scientific data and creating a better social environment for the inmates.
Log Drives - Log drives, banned 60 years ago, were a big part of Oregon’s ancient timber practices, but they took a brutal toll on our rivers. We talk to the old timers, look at historical film and go underwater to learn more about this system. Rivers were an efficient way of bringing logs out of timbered areas. Over 200 splash dams were built from the 1880s through the turn of the century to help force log runs down rivers. But as they were flushed downstream, they scoured the riverbeds and banks, eroding vegetation and soil, and destroying fish habitat. Log jams often developed, and when they couldn’t be broken up by “river rats” — workers using polls and brute force to untangle the masses — they were dynamited loose. Although the rivers now look pristine, researchers are founding evidence that they haven’t fully recovered from these severe transport methods.
Sharp-Tailed Grouse - When we visited eastern Oregon 20 years ago to learn about the reintroduction of sharp-tailed grouse, things were looking good. Sharp-tails were released near Hells Canyon, but since there are more raptors there than almost any other place in Oregon, there has been a consistent drain on the population. Now the birds are in trouble, and biologists can only hope that some newly restored prairie might be enough to keep them from vanishing once again.
Videos of the stories featured on FIELD GUIDE are available at opb.org/programs/ofg/ or watch entire programs at watch.opb.org.
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About OREGON FIELD GUIDE
In its 22nd season, OREGON FIELD GUIDE remains a valuable source of information about outdoor recreation, ecological issues, natural resources and travel destinations. OREGON FIELD GUIDE airs Thursday evenings at 8:30pm on the television stations of Oregon Public Broadcasting and repeats on Sundays at 1:30am and 6:30pm. In the Mountain Time zone of Eastern Oregon, the program airs at 9:30pm Thursdays, and at 7:30pm Sundays.
OPB is the largest cultural and education institution in the region, delivering excellence in public broadcasting to 1.5 million people each week through television, radio and the Internet. Widely recognized as a national leader in the public broadcasting arena, OPB is a major contributor to the program schedule that serves the entire country. OPB is one of the most-used and most-supported public broadcasting services in the country and is generously supported by 120,000 contributors.