So Many Management Systems, So Little Time to Learn!!

Submitted by Allie Floyd on Tue, 2017-07-11 00:00




Hello everyone! What an incredible, knowledge filled few days! We have learned SO much it's hard to know where to begin, but in this post, I want to talk about a variety of management systems we learned about outside of just water while we were in Idaho City and at Diversion Dam today. Also, please take a look at the pictures I posted along with this blog and let me know if you have any questions!

The first picture I posted here is just to show how beautiful the area is that we stayed in! One activity we did that I wish I could do, but can't because it involves fire, was an interactive demonstration about how man made solutions for preventing forrest fires have actually changed the dynamics of how fires burn and how quickly. When we implemented a large amount of trees that are condensed in one small area combined with bushes, pine needles, leaves, and other natural materials that burn quickly, we actually increase the risk of a forrest fire. That combined with the extremely hot summers, climate change, and loss of water in some areas again substantially increases that risk of a fire. In other words, we need to let nature do what it does best! We should not be as concerned with stopping every forrest fire that springs up so that nature has more space for newer trees and can naturally clear out anything that was harmful to that ecosystem. I had no idea!

Something else that I found to be fascinating was the geothermal networking system that we currently have in place in downtown Boise. Many may not know that we have a MASSIVE natural aquifer and we actually do not know the end to it. On Warm Springs Avenue, many of those houses are heated solely by geothermal energy. Not only does this apply to houses in this area, but buildings and institutions such as the YMCA, a few hotels, the State Capitol building, and this networking system stretches far beyond those boundaries all the way to BSU! To be able to sustain so many families, buildings, and areas with completely renewable energy is so exiciting and gives me hope for the future! 

Finally, we had a fantastic speaker that came to Idaho City to talk to us about how mining has negatively impacted many areas, also in part to the dredging that used to take place when mining for gold. Most people are familiar with the huge growth in population Idaho saw because of the Gold Rush, but there have been long term problems such as acid rock contaminating the fresh water supply, oozing out from old mining areas, and crushing those same rocks to powder that again contaminates clean water. Some of the dredging areas were so powerful that they reversed the direction of the water, which would then throw of the balance of that ecosystem. This is still a problem we are faced with today that I would love to see resolved along with many others.

My final request today is an answer to the following question. How might Idaho continue forward on the mission of clean, renewable energy sources without damaging ecosystems because of man-made solutions? In addition to that, what do YOU think Idaho would benefit most from if the resource was made available state wide, and why- geothermal energy, fire management, solar power, or the re-use and purification of all water resources? 

I look forward to your responses and let me know what you think of the pictures!!! More pictures will be posted in the gallery! :)


Darcy Hale's picture

Thanks for sharing about forest health and fire management, Allie.  I spent last week in Central Oregon in the Cascade Mountains (volcanoes).  My teens and I took a mountain bike tour which included a guide who offered educational insight at each stop we made on the descent.  At the summit we were able to view an "unhappy" forest.  This portion of the forest, because humans worked too hard to prevent natural forest fires in decades prior, was full of debris, crowded with trees with low hanging branches (mainly lodge pole pines), needles, cones, scrub brush, etc.  Our guide explained that in explorers' journals it is written that the very area used to accomodate at least six men riding horseback side by side, shoulder to shoulder, unimpeded through the forest.  They were able to travel between each ponderosa pine in a row of six easily.  Today in time, as we stood by a giant ponderosa pine, we could barely make out the next large ponderosa as its view was obscured by all the forest fuel crowding the forest floor.  Half way down we were able to observe "The Burn" which was a large portion of the volcano's forest that had burned during a lightning strike 20 years prior.  We were able to see the USFS efforts at re-forestation.  The trees that were planted were about 8-12 feet tall.  We noticed how crowded the USFS has planted the trees.  The guide let us know that 1/3 of the trees would remain for the forest and the rest would eventually be logged to finance the USFS.  At the bottom of our ride we were able to observe the USFS efforts to cut and clear the forest removing all the dead, rotting, and lowest vegetation (needles, cones, scrub, etc) in order to prevent such fast and hot fires and in turn, leaving more open space for the larger pines to thrive.  

My favorite take away was learning how the Ponderosa Pine had adapted to be resistent to forest fires.  It's puzzle piece bark is exceptionally thick providing a protective layer from fire and also providing resiliance to lightning strikes (we saw several Ponderosas thriving in spite of massive lightning strike scars that ran the length of the entire tree top to ground).  A ponderosa has also, over time, learned to pull its branches up in order to avoid catching on fire.  In a healthy forest, without all the fast burning, hot, crowded fuel sources, a ponderosa's bark can actually withstand and survive a typical, cyclical, natural forest fire.  Where the lodge pole pine had all kinds of dead and scraggly branches dragging the forest floor, the Ponderosas branches didn't begin until 20 or more feet above the ground.  Smart tree!

I remember being fascinated when I learned about the geothermal energy source at the capitol while chaperoning my own kids' trip to Boise from Pocatello during their 4th grade year in school when they completed a unit study on Idaho history.  Here in Pocatello there are a few homes in the hills south of town that focus on using solar and wind technologies for energy.  My favorite yurt get-a-way in the outskirts of town uses solar panels.  With the new LDS temple slated for construction here in Pocatello, I am sure it will increase new commercial and residential construction.  It would be fabulous to see some of the developers create a new subdivision that focuses on renewable energy from the beginning phase.  If construction is going to occur regardless and ecosystems are going to be disrupted regardless as population increases and natural lands are used for human living spaces, why not consider developing communities that have less impact on the environment, use renewable energy sources, and give back to the area in which the development occurs?  I know new businesses in town in Pocatello are now required to include retention areas in their parking lots to catch all their own runoff rather than having it dump immediately into the city's storm water system.  One of our larger parks alongside the Portneuf river has a specifically designed wetland for heavy rains/snow melts.  The wetland remains dry most the year, but catches lots of water during emergencies to help prevent the Portneuf from flooding.  We know we will continue to disrupt ecosystems as we continue to grow in population and necessitate land for our own habitat.  I think the goal should be to plan with forethought and consideration for creating less impact.  

Fabiola Stewart's picture


Thank you for your comment. I really learned a lot from it. I agree with your point that as human popuation increases we need to move forward with intentional design for envionmental conservation and sustainability. We have the knowledge, data, technology, and means to be able to think ahead to conserve what we have left. It is difficult to go back and clean up and repair damages that have been made. However, it is more challenging doing so if we are simultaneously creating new problems and negative impacts that will then need to be addressed. 



Carly Grant's picture


Where in Central Oregon were you? I am going there in a couple of weeks and I was thinking of going to Crater Lake. I am not familiar with the area, but I am excited to explore. 

Darcy Hale's picture

Hi, Carly.  I am a native Oregonian.  I grew up in the Portland area and am an Idaho transplant since 2010.  If you have any questions about visiting Oregon, I'm happy to answer them.  My parents retired to Black Butte Ranch (closest town Sisters, OR) almost 20 years ago.  That is where I went for my trip.  The largest city in that area is Bend, OR.  Crater Lake is a nice day trip from Bend.  If you can afford it, paying for the charter boat to travel from the edge of the crater across the caldera to Wizard Island it well worth it.  It's quite a walk down to the launch site and you have to hike back up after the cruise, but it's a once in a lifetime bucket list item!  Diamond Lake is another lake down by Crater that has fun day charters for fishing.

Here was our itenerary from last week for a few ideas:  

Sunday we drove up by Mt. Bachelor on the Cascade Lakes Hwy and stopped at Sparks Lake to take sunset photographs of South Sister and Broken Top.  This is a fantastic trail and a gorgeous lake with such pretty mountian views.  

Monday we kayaked several hours in the morning on Clear Lake (kayak and row boats available for rent).  We had awesome burgers and fries for lunch after kayaking at the little restaurant right on the lake.  After lunch we drove a mile down the road to Sahalie and Koosah Falls.  Beautiful trails overlooking both falls.  After that we had dinner and saw a movie at the Sisters Movie House.  It's a fabulous hometown, locally owned movie theater that brings your dinner to your seat in the theater.  They are very reasonably priced (my teens were still considered children prices) and they pop fresh corn in coconut oil and use real butter on top.  They also sell adult beverages if people so desire.  They show current releases, too.  Love that little theater!  

On Tuesday we floated the Deschutes River in Bend on tubes.  This is a very relaxing and mild float.  They have created a whitewater park where you can float a few rapids and then watch surfers and expert paddleboarders work the expert whitewater.  The homes along the river are jaw-dropping and enjoyable to gawk at as you float by.  We watched fireworks in Bend from Pilot Butte.  

On Wednesday we drove west to my alma mater, UofO in Eugene, and then on to Florence, OR on the Oregon Coast and visted Heceta Head Lighthouse and the Sea Lion Caves.  The little beach at Heceta Head is great for shell and sea creature hunting.  The hike from the beach to the lighthouse is gorgeous.  We drove a little further north to Newport, OR and visited historic Nye Beach (I used to live there and teach at Taft High School in Lincoln City).  The Hwy to Florence from Sisters is such a pretty drive.  We took a different Hwy back through via Corvallis and that is a bit windy but so gorgeous.

On Thursday we lunched in Bend and did some shopping on Wall Street.  That night was a full moon so we canoed by moonlight with Wanderlust Tours on Hosmer Lake.  This lake is very shallow and marshy with beautiful mountain views, too.  Hosmer is several miles past Bachelor and Sparks Lake on the same Cascade Lakes Hwy.  

Friday we did the Paulina Plunge Mountain Bike Tour (the tour has a website if you are interested) at Newberry Crater on Paulina Creek.  At our lunch stop during the bike tour we had a good enough vista to see all the way to the mountains surrounding Crater Lake (southern Oregon) and then all the way to Mt. Hood in Portland and all the mountains in between (like Jefferson, Three Fingered Jack, the Sisters, Black Butte, Broken Top, Diamon Peak,etc).  Soooo pretty.  The tour included swimming in and jumping into waterfalls and sliding down natural water slides.  Friday night we had ice cream cake from the new Dairy Queen they just built in Sisters and take out from Happy Wok in Sisters.  Really good Asian faire for such a tiny town.  

On Saturday was Sisters' annual Outdoor Quilt Show.  We hightailed it out of town as there are hoards that descend upon Sisters for the quilt show.  In years past we have hiked Black Butte, antiqued in Redmond, skiied Mt. Bachelor, watched rock climbers at Smith Rock, paddle boarded lakes, have taken horseback trail rides, golfed, biked paved trails, rode apline slides, road the ski chair lifts up and hiked down ski hills, visited the High Desert Museum, visted the lava beds lookout, visted the alpaca farms, etc.  And the shopping and dining in both Sisters and Bend is a lot of fun.  

Carly Grant's picture


Your response is amazing! Thank You. I love Oregon and I can not wait for my trip. Your message back is so incredibly informative and tour-guide like. It makes me even more anxious to go! I am going to research our trek to include some of your suggestions and what I do not get to this year, I will plan for next year!  I love it when the locals/natives to areas tell you where the best locations are for recreation and for citizen science inquiries. Thank you! 


Allie Floyd's picture

Wow Darcy thank you for this awesome response!!! I learned even more that I didn't know before just from what you shared!! Ponderosas and what they can withstand is truly amazing. I don't think I have seen any in person myself, but I would absolutely love to one day. What a knowledge filled adventure in Oregon for you! Thank you for the response to the questions as well, truly thought provoking with some great insights! 

Angela Becker's picture

Hello Allie!

I'm enjoying following the journey! As far as your comment about not being able to do the fire activity, I say why not? Can't you take them outside to the parking lot? They could build them one day then you could light them the next. They could video each one so that all classes can see each group's results. Just a thought!

Fabiola Stewart's picture

Carissa and I did a unit that looks very similar about forest fires and how they burn. We set it up the day before and then burned them in the parking lot the next day. The students loved it. I only had one helper while the rest of them sat a certain distance away recording information or answering questions. It manage just fine. We had cookie sheets underneath each set up and sprayed it down with water afterwards. Back in the classroom, removed the burnt matches into another cookie sheet and disposed it at the end of the day when it was all cooled. 

It definitely got the students' attention. 

Carly Grant's picture


I love the pictures! I really wish that I was doing the live trip because I LOVE this kind of stuff. Feild trips and feild work learning was my favorite part about college. I am curious as to whether there is a lesson activity posted somewhere concerning the lesson on the forrest fires? It is facinating and I do not know too much about the dynamics of forest fires, but I would love to. 


My daugher went to the state capital during her 4th grade field trip and learned about the geothermal energy that is used around Boise. It was her favorite part about Idaho history. In fact that field trip is what made her fall in love with the BSU campus and she will be attending this fall. 

I once thought Solar power would be very beneficial to Idaho, but when I drove to Boise this last week I saw all of the solar panals off to the side of the highway and all I could think about what how it messed up the beautiful scenery. Same goes for the wind tourbines in parts of the state. I also wonder if we are actually having any benefit from the wind and solar power that we are generating? Locally I do not know of anyone that has personally had a benefit, electricity is still high and I heard that we sell the energy to other states instead of the locals benefitting. I have no idea if that is completely true, but it would be interesting to research the topic. At least it is much cleaner energy production than methods of the past. 

Allie Floyd's picture

Thank you everyone for following my journey here and for all of your excellent insights and thoughts on what we have been learning so far!! We have been extremely busy so I apologize I don't yet have time to respond individually, but I will try to throughout the remainder of the week!