McKenzie River Reflections

Blue-green algae poses threat to recreation and drinking water

Walterville PondA report from Oregon State University concludes that blooms of blue-green algae (or toxic cyanobacteria) are a poorly monitored and underappreciated risk to recreational and drinking water quality in the United States. It  may also  be a growing global health threat.
Contributing to the concern are rising temperatures and carbon dioxide levels. Many rivers have been dammed worldwide, and wastewater nutrients or agricultural fertilizers in various situations can cause problems in rivers, lakes and reservoirs.
No testing for cyanobacteria is mandated by state or federal drinking water regulators, according to the OSU scientists, nor is reporting required of disease outbreaks associated with algal blooms. But changes in climate and land use, and even increasing toxicity of the bacteria themselves, may force greater attention to this issue in the future, the researchers said.

Vets with boatBy Ada Weeks
Perched on a large rock at the Silver Creek Landing, I sat photographing drift boats that came close enough to capture on camera, waiting for my mystery ride to the other side of the river. My assignment was to interview a group of US military veterans during their first McKenzie River fishing trip. Having grown up as a Navy braåç, I knew this would be special.

When a drift boat skillfully came close enough for me to see the fishermen wearing US Army tee shirts, I knew “my ship had come in.” Indeed, with military precision, my boat transport was right on time. Marine veteran, and elite river guide, Greg White, invited me to hop in for the short ride across the McKenzie to the chosen lunch spot.

River guide Buzz Kleven, also a US Army and Marine veteran, was busy setting up the site, complete with table, chairs, cookware, and the largest cast iron frying pan I had ever seen. The military vet fishermen, who had tours of duty in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Germany, piled out of the drift boats, and settled in to watch the guides prepare lunch.

Bruce ThorFINN ROCK: The fifteen artists at this year’s 3rd Annual Chainsaw Art Festival once again enthraled onlookers who watched them transform logs into works of art. For some running the saws, the end result may come from within the wood itself. Others, like Bruce Thor of Kent, Washington, approach each piece with an image already in their minds.
“Because I’m a cartoonist, I get ideas and have to have a piece of paper around at all times,” he explains. “I’m compulsively doodling over the winter.”
For Thor, a “third generation Icelandic American,” the attraction for refashioning logs goes back to 1996 when his mother cut down a tree in their front yard. In the process of making, “the worst bear I’ve ever done,”  he burned out her electric saw. But it was a step in a process that nudged him to attend his first gathering of carvers in the coastal town of Westport in 2000.

Concentrations of wildfire smoke affecting Lane County air quality


Smoke levels have elevated air quality warnings to the moderate range for several days now in the Eugene, Springfield, Cottage Grove, and Oakridge areas. Heavier smoke levels could push the air quality index (AQI) into the “Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups (USG)” level or even up to “Unhealthy.”

Phone Scammers Claiming to be Law Enforcement Officers

Navigation Obstruction - McKenzie River below Bellinger Boat Ramp

Biscuit fireAs mountain pine beetles and other insects chew their way through Western forests, forest fires might not seem far behind. Lands covered by dead trees appear ready to burst into flame.
However, an analysis of wildfire extent in Oregon and Washington over the past 30 years shows very little difference in the likelihood of fires in forests with and without insect damage. Indeed , other factors – drought, storms, and fuel accumulation from years of fire suppression – may be more important than insects in determining if fire is more or less likely from year to year.


McKenzie River Reflections is the weekly newspaper serving Oregon's McKenzie River Valley. Available by mail for $23/yr in Lane County, $29/yr outside Lane. Digital subscriptions are $23/yr. Subscribe at: Purchase copies online at: Read about area communities including Cedar Flat, Walterville, Camp Creek, Leaburg, Vida, Nimrod, Finn Rock, Blue River, Rainbow and McKenzie Bridge.