Biological Assessment
by Dr. Fred Sharpe

The site posses noteworthy cultural features including a former homesteadstead and is transected by the historic Pacific Trail, which connected the settlers of the upper Bogachiel and Hoh with the town of Forks.  The property is reported by the original settler to have included pre-European meadow habitat.  The primary competing hypothesizes for the creation and maintenance of meadow habitat are 1) aboriginal burning, 2) the browsing activities of elk, and 3) high wind events.
Aesthetic attributers of property include a pastoral/rural/wild setting with natural sounds including flowing water, birds, and elk herds. The upper portions of Reade Hill harbors old-growth which enhances the wild and scenic character of the property. 
The property is ecologically diverse and provides valuable wildlife habitat.  Given the intensively managed surrounding lands, the property is sufficient size to make a meaningful contribution to low elevation old-forest reserves.  The landowner is well informed concerning the land's noteworthy natural features and has a well articulated vision for the protection of meadow, forest and waterways. Stokes desires to maintain and enhance forest biotic diversity by permitting the site to return to old-growth conditions. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
CHIGGERS STOKES/WRITING

Flying S Farm Conservation Easement

managed by North Olympic Land Trust
The purpose of this Easement is to assure that the Property will be retained forever predominantly in its natural condition as open space, wildlife, riparian and forest habitat and to prevent any use of, or activity on, which will significantly impair or interfere with the Conservation Values of the Property.

LAND OWNER’S OBJECTIVES

Across the United States or, for that matter, around the globe, wildlife habitat is being altered and compromised for human need.  Human and wildlife habitats frequently present different attributes, the former most frequently compromising the latter. In the twenty-first century, an increasing number of species march to extinction, or precarious survival, along a fragmented corridor and patchwork of less sustaining environments.   It is the intent of the landowner to establish restraints and land management practice that place equal emphasis on human and wildlife habitat.

My Hydroelectric Story
from the Forks Forum

Many rural property owners in rain country  have dreamed about harnessing the power of our abundant streams  to electrify their homes.  To one Forks local and his family, the red line between this dream and nightmare has been the realm for twenty years.  It began when Chiggers Stokes bought half of the old Flying S Farm  at the end of the Dowans Creek Road.  This neighborhood shares a peculiarity with several other isolated communities on the Olympic Peninsula in that it is one of the last un-electrified habitations in the United States.  Like most of his neighbors, Chiggers began to use deep cycle batteries for 12 volt lighting , fans and radio.  The growl of generator engines, which charged the batteries, began to replace the evening serenade of frogs and owls.  The family’s first liberation from the noisy, gas guzzling generator was a 40 watt photovoltaic panel purchased in July of 1981.  For a few happy months, the panel provided power for lighting and small appliances.  But clouds and short winter days soon curtailed this bliss and the generator came out of its storage box.  Jeanne, Chiggers’ wife, suggested setting up a pelton wheel on Hemp Hill Creek, which ran through their property.  “It didn’t take long for the idea of stream powered energy to take over my life,” confesses Chiggers.  “I would like for my neighbors to learn from some of the mistakes I’ve made along the way to power self sufficiency.”

Here were just some of the mistakes made coming right out of the barn door:  “I bought a microhydroelectric unit from Canyon Industries in Demming, Washington, with no real proof that I could make it work with the head (vertical fall of water) and c.f.s (cubic feet of water per second) I had available.   I got a great deal on four inch , corrugated drain pipe and bought half a mile of  the stuff.  I laid out my first penstock (pipe) without involving State Fisheries, Department of Ecology or two landowners, whose property my pipe crossed.  I risked criminal prosecution in doing so.   I anchored the flexible pipe with concrete thrust blocks and buried almost 1,000 feet of it by hand.  But when I charged the line for the first time, the pipe heaved itself out of its trench and writhed like a huge anaconda snake before tearing itself apart.  That was about three months of my life over the proverbial dam.  Undaunted, I went out and bought 3,000 feet of two inch polypipe.  After a couple of days of wrestling  the 300 foot rolls through the woods, we had a continuous run from the top of Hemp Hill Falls to the hydro’s site on our property.  We hooked up our 12 volt system, turned on the water, and – what do you know – we had lights!

“…but not for long.  About the time my daughter was born in 1983, the micro hydro developed chronic bearing problems and was destroying axles and shaking itself to death.  Before I realized that I had to learn to deal with the engineering myself, I sent the unit back to Canyon Industries about five times.  During the dark nights waiting for the unit to be fixed, I learned that you can make a dandy battery charger out of a lawn mower by replacing the blades with a car alternator.  I remember my wife cleaning diapers by that light.  In the end it was two Forks welder/fabricators that modified the unit so that it could run years without bearing problems.  I’ll always be grateful to Ron James and Roger Widden for the tireless effort they put into solving my problem.”

With the hydro unit now a reliable, all-be-it miniscule, energy source, Chiggers began to fret about the biggest challenge so far in the project: legitimizing the system.  “I had never planned to go so far without the consent of landowners and interested government agencies.  But all my effort so far had been in keeping the system up and running.  First, I had to get a water right from Washington Department of Ecology, which was hard to do, even in the early ‘80s.  When I told Department of Fisheries what I was up to, they worked with me to modify the hydro’s race (water channel) for salmon habitat.  With dynamite, I shot several small ponds and a 150 foot trench connecting to the creek.  Within a year, the coho fry moved in.  When I called Rayonier to confess what I had done, they treated me like a neighbor and arranged a special use permit for which I pay a yearly fee.  At the time I was only getting 100 watts production or 2.4 kilowatt hours a day.  So for several years I was paying more for the Rayonier permit alone, than the citizens of Forks pay P.U.D. for the equivalent power.

“I began to understand that pipe friction was greatly dampening output and that what I needed to make the system really work was four inch pipe.  This would be a $6,000 investment and the ditch to bury it would be another $2,500.  But I had another problem which distracted me.  The absentee landowners from California who had property upon which some of my penstock lay,  found us before we could find them.  In consideration for letting my pipe remain on their property, I entered a verbal agreement where I gave them vehicular access across our property and was required to do eight hours of work a year on their land.  I flagged their two mile property line and located all corners and monuments.  I did regular trail work and built a foot bridge across their part of Hemp Hill Creek.  I promised them a hauling easement to remove timber from their land and I promised never to take legal action to secure an easement by adverse taking.  

“In time and in return for these much larger easements and actual work that I was performing for the California family, I asked that they allow me to bury four inch penstock under their logging road.  I calculated the potential to be ten times the electrical output that I was getting with the two inch line. Twice, I received what I understood as verbal approval from the family, but when I notified them of my intention to proceed, they told me to wait. By 1991, Rayonier had approved and allowed the insertion of four inch pipe on their land. I waited for six years and, finally, in 1997, I sent the California  couple a certified letter, advising them of my intention to proceed, a full description of the project and a self addressed, stamped, STOP WORK postcard to send to me if it was their intention to forbid the retrofit.  Not hearing from them, I proceeded with the work which cost $10,000 for the pipe, ditch and new electrical hardware.

“When I turned on the water this time, I had over a kilowatt of power.  It would still take most of the rest of my life to amortize the investment of the system, but my family now had most of the conveniences that P.U.D. customers enjoy from their utility.  In addition to reliable power, we had the salmon habitat, fire protection offered by the high water pressure, garden irrigation, and we could listen to fan tail pigeons, grouse and hawks instead of a generator.

By August of 2,000, the system was protected by diversion loads, which came on when the ton and a half of batteries reached full charge.  I could handle electrical surges of 20 kilowatts.  Every outbuilding on the farm was electrified and motion detectors turned on bridge and walkway lights at this wilderness interface, three miles beyond public power.  “My penstock was totally buried, grown over and invisible on my neighbors property,” Chiggers reflects.  “I had met with the grand kids of the California couple to discuss their intention to log their property.  My daughter fed them lunch and I gave them a jag of firewood.  They told me that my project was secure on their property for the next thirty years.  But for reasons still unclear, they returned a week later to cut the pipe in four places.  They couldn’t even find the pipe on their own property so they cut it by the intake, more than a quarter mile from their property.  Written into my water right is a clause stating that I cannot allow an interruption of water to the rearing ponds, so I worked for three days with two friends to restore the flow in the wake of this mysterious vandalism while my wife and daughter attempted to rescue fish and tadpoles.  I had experienced land slides, blow down, freezing, flood and all manner of pipe rupture in the past, but I had never lost prime in both pipes, so this was harder to fix.  Just when I got the water back to the fish and hydro system, one of the grand kids came by to announce that it was they who had cut the pipe and I was no longer allowed on their land.  They gave no reason for their change of heart.

“I told them that, whatever they chose to do on their property, they couldn’t cut it again on Rayonier property.  I had given my word that I would not seek an adverse taking of easement, but I called a Jefferson County Deputy who came out and gave them a lawful order to not interfere with the pipe on Rayonier land.  They violated this order, cutting my pipe in two more places above their property.  They turned the water back on, after inserting a crude plug into their handiwork and risked diverting Hemp Hill Creek from its salmon rich channel  onto their own logging road grade.  They violated  State law by not securing a Hydraulic Project Approval before interfering with a diversion which supplies water to fish owned by the People of Washington State.

“After death overtook thousands of tadpoles writhing at the bottom of our drying ponds, scores of salamanders crawled out of the mud to die in the setting sun.   I went into a darkening house to drink beer and brood.  I had lost a man year of my life in the work I had into the project.  I had little to show for the $14,000 I had invested so far.  I had lost a life style.  But, even more regrettable, I had lost love in my heart for my neighbor.  It was the darkest night of my life.”


October, 2000

I stood in the silent hydro shack looking at the rust and corrosion that was taking over the turbines and alternator heads that had supplied my family with electricity. The whooshing and whirring sounds of microhydroelectric power generation, had been absent for three months now.  Instead, I was hearing a propane fired generator rumbling over by my shop.  I had set up the generator so that its starting and stopping was controlled by the voltage of the batteries that supplied the inverters.  For 24 hour power, I only had to listen to the generator for five hours a day and the folks at Ferrellgas were discounting my propane based on my increased rate.  Even then, I was paying almost $10 a day for energy and I couldn’t afford to go on forever.  I stood for a while trying to wish the water back through the 3,500 feet of dry pipe.  

I brooded about my dilemma.  Case law applying to informal water agreements such as I had with the California couple favors the water user.  The Doctrine of Adverse Taking usually goes in favor of the water user when the utility has been uncontested, un-permitted, and in existence for seven years.  The Doctrine of Necessity usually rules in favor of the water user when it can be shown that the utility is vital to the user and there exists no reasonable alternative.  I had received a verbal promise that I would never be cut off without due cause and had received no explanation on the family’s change of heart.  But I had given my word that whatever happened, no matter how egregious or dire the circumstances appeared, I would take no legal action against their wishes or interests.  I had considered going back on my word as I felt the Californians had done to me.  But, what I know and respect about so many people in Forks is that their word is self enforced and as good as a court order.  To live in a world without lies and broken contracts you have to accept that it’s not OK to forget what you promised because someone violates an agreement. Sometimes you have to hold on to the dirty end of the stick.

Realizing that water would not flow through that run of pipe, I set upon another idea.  What about moving the hydroelectric up to Rayonier property just below the falls and running 4,000 feet of wire around the Californians’ property?  I called State Fisheries and Rayonier to see if they would even consider the idea and began pricing wire and transformers.  The only way to move the one kilowatt, 24 volt direct current output of my hydro over 4,000 feet without the electricity turning into heat is to have copper wire as big around as your arm, or to transform it up to 600 volts alternating current and, for safety, protect it with ground fault interrupts.  Both Rayonier and Fisheries came out to look at my proposal, but the requirement was that the wire be buried three feet underground or set 20 feet off the ground on poles.  There was no vehicular access (four wheel, tractor, or quad) to support such a huge enterprise, so I realized I couldn’t make it happen.  

I called up the local PUD and got details about setting up a L.U.D. (local utility district) with my neighbors to bring in public power.  It would be over $100,000, permanently raise our property taxes, and change the complexion of our neighborhood.  My neighbors wanted no part of it.

I went back to the drawing board and, in December of 2000, submitted a written proposal to Rayonier and Fisheries to allow my rerouting penstock along the same path I had proposed laying wire.  Both Rayonier’s Jerry Clarke and Fisheries’, Dan Dafoe, spent a lot of time with me, walking the ground and trying to anticipate environmental or legal problems for the project.  I was given a temporary use permit by Rayonier and an H.P.A. (Hydraulics Project Approval) by WDFW.  The engineering was up to me.  I had heard that the limits you can drag water up hill in a syphon is 33 feet (one atmosphere).  My work with a hand transit and clinometer told me I had a 240 foot fall, but the pipe had to drag water 27 feet above my intake to get out of the valley into which I was hemmed.

The pipe from the other project was a total loss. I had made a video tape when I buried it in 1997 and I knew how to find it, but it was under ground made terra prohibita by the Calafornians.  So I was faced with purchasing 7,000 feet of pipe – one 2 inch run and one 4 inch – with my dwindling finances.  I lost a bet when it turned out that Dick Moody, here in Forks, could get me the pipe for less than big city pipe wholesalers and he delivered it.  It took about ten days to lay out the 12 300 foot rolls of 2” polypipe.  I had forgotten how Satan lives in those innocent looking rolls of pipe.  The running ends will free themselves from most anchors you devise in the woods and, once spread out, 300 feet will contract itself to swat and ensnare those poor mortals working in between the escaped ends.  At times it was reminiscent of Brer Rabbit’s encounter with the Tar Baby.  

After the 2 inch pipe was laid out, I had to figure out a way to completely fill it with water, since any air at all will form a bubble airlock at the high point. On this stage of the project, there was a lot of trial and error  - mostly the latter, with several burned up pumps.  I ended up having to buy a $400 second stage pump to develop the 100 p.s.i. I needed to push the water up the line from the bottom.  When nothing but water was coming out of the one way breather valves on top, I knew I had all the air out.  I assembled my family to show them the reintroduction of a gravity feed water system to our lifestyle and opened the valve.  Water gurgled out for about 15 seconds before an air lock shut down the flow.  When you syphon water 27 feet up hill it depends upon almost a pure vacuum to drag up the column of water.  All that suction pulls the air out of the water and it immediately settles to the top pinching off water flow. For all this work, I had nothing!

This was my situation one year ago: I had lost $9,000 invested in the pipe and ditch seized by my neighbors.  I had invested several thousand dollars in a reliable propane generator which was costing me half as much as I earned to run.  Several thousand dollars worth of hydroelectric equipment sat idle and rusting.  I had close to two thousand dollars in the 2 inch pipe strung out through the woods.  I had $5,000 worth of 4 inch pipe sitting on my wife’s landscaping waiting to be deployed.  I had invested most of my family’s income and over a man year of work and nothing to show for it.  I became punch drunk.

Staggering through the woods looking for a limb to throw a rope over, I decided to follow a little tributary of Hemp Hill Creek up the hill to see what it offered in hydroelectric potential.  The stream became bigger as I wandered up the steep hill and, the plateau on top offered several natural catch basins.  It was all property owned by Rayonier and the body of water was part of Hemp Hill Creek for which I had a legal water right.  Downstream, I couldn’t survey the creek, where it left Rayonier land onto the 160 acres owned by the Californians.  Since the stream went mostly under ground to feed a big swamp and since I had never seen any coho fry when I tossed in twigs to look for them, I assumed that the little creek was sterile of fish.  I called Fisheries and asked for permission to move my 2 inch pipe and intake to capture water from this tributary and was given approval for a test based on my contention that the creek was sterile.

For the next week a friend and I were dragging 300 foot sections of 2 inch pipe down and up steep hillsides and through a knee deep swamp.  We tied ourselves to the pipe so we could have our hands free to grasp devil’s club and salmon berry, frequently with our bare hands.  The swamp would pull off our knee boots and, as we poised trying to get our bare sock back into the submerged boot, our partner would heave forward on the pipe and over we would go, face first into the swamp.   If you want to know what fun is, try it sometime.  When we got the pipe all hooked up, I reassembled my family for the demonstration, opened the gate valve and water shot out of the pipe with enough force to knock us down.   I asked my wife to find a bottle of Champaign left over from my retirement party a year previous, and we passed the bottle in sheer jubilation. 

Three hurtles remained: Rayonier needed to re-permit this new route for the penstock.  Fisheries needed to ascertain for themselves that the tributary was barren of fish.  And Department of Ecology had to make a routine point of diversion change to my Water Right.  Things did not go well for me.  When Jerry Clarke came out to look over the permit departure, he was pessimistic on how Fisheries and DOE would react.  When WDFG came out with a representative of Quileute Fisheries, they surveyed the creek on the Californians property and there were plenty of fry closer to the main stem of Hemp Hill.  This was spring following a significant drought year and Fisheries was justifiably concerned about the impact to natural rearing habitat.  I began flow studies by planting rulers in the streambed and above my point of diversion.  I was able to prove – at least to myself -, that since so much of the water was subterranean, my diversion of up to 60 gallons per minute was insignificant.  Turning my project on and off had no measurable effect on the rulers.

At first I was assured by Department of Ecology in Olympia, that approval of the diversion change would be forthcoming, but as I pressed them for a date, they became guarded and I began to sense that my proposal was in trouble.  I offered to give back three months of my water right (during low flow to protect fish) and pointed out the significant habitat offered by my rearing ponds. I asked for a personal meeting to present my observations and views and was refused.  I asked for a conference telephone call to discuss the issue between DOE, WDFW, Quileute Fisheries, Rayonier and myself and was refused. I sensed that the permit writer was turning against me. He just kept saying, “This tributary is very important as fish habitat.” . I pointed out that the main stem, where I was being directed, was even more important since that’s where all the fry would retreat in the event of drought.  I asked him to please articulate in detail why the tributary, which had occasional manifestations of fish, deserved more protection than the main stem which was the conduit for adults in winter and the year round refuge of fry.  He said he would send me a certified letter explaining it scientifically.  The letter arrived and said, “This tributary is very important as fish habitat.  Change of diversion DENIED.”  I was back where I started.

I only had one card left in my hand and it was one I dearly wanted to leave on the table.  All the players agreed that I could excavate my way out of the valley and use my original intake and catch basin on Hemp Hill Creek. Well diggers have the kind of equipment needed for excavation of this scope and I called Daryl Gaydeski.  Daryl took my problem as his personal challenge.  I was at the very bottom of the money barrel and Daryl gave an estimate that was a lot more fare to me than to himself and stuck to the estimate.  Together, we surveyed the job with his laser level and it corroborated what I had found with hand transit.  We needed a 300 foot ditch with an absolutely level bottom.  It needed to be over 17 feet deep, almost all the way and  27 foot deep as it crested the hill.  The Rayonier logging road had to be lowered at least 10 feet to position the excavator to dig 17 feet deeper.  The outcasting of dirt involved 100 trips by dump truck.  The ditch collapsed a couple of times and the work had to start all over.  I don’t know what an average job is for Daryl Gaydeski and his employees, but this was one of the scariest, most delicate bits of work with heavy equipment I’ve ever witnessed.  

With the upper pipe now held to a grade at or below the intake, I called the same friend and we drug all the pipe back from the tributary to connect with the original intake.  Getting the air out of the pipe again presented a challenge and I was in the middle of this task when the Jefferson County Deputy called me with a complaint by the California family that I was excavating on their property.  I was able to show Deputy Thomas where the Californians had cut my line in six different places on Rayonier land and how the excavation was 500 feet removed from the complainants’ property.  The Rayonier Permit, the Water Right, the Fishery paperwork was in order.  I asked for the County’s protection of my investment in money and hard work.

On Monday, October 1, 2001, I again brought my family together to witness the turning of a valve.  Water gushed from the 2 inch line.  With this success, I contracted with other friends to help haul three tons of Schedule 40, 4 inch pipe into the woods on our backs.  For a week, I inadvertantly sniffed glue and worked in a frenzy to reconnect my hydroelectric shack with its historic intake.  Thursday, October 18, I turned valves and threw switches and my hydroelectric was back on line.  It was the high of a first kiss; the thrill of a roller coaster; the intoxication of a dozen cocktails; the satisfaction of a hard year’s work; the triumph of pulling oneself out of the mud and refusing to be beaten…to have power again and be able to believe that the generation involved a scheme which directly benefits fish rather than directly endangers them.  I thought I was in heaven!

In the last two months it has been my pleasure and privilege to electrify two of my neighbors’ households.  They receive the electricity that would otherwise spill into useless diversion loads because we are presently making more electricity than we use.  I give this to my neighbors free of charge because – and just because, we are neighbors.  Is this sense of neighborhood something that ends south of Oregon?  I laughed at the energy plight of California and briefly hoped that the lights were flickering in the home of my detractors. But, more deeply I believe that what happens to our sister state of California portends trouble for all of these Unites States.  Every American needs to apply their selves to solving the country’s energy crisis.  If my tax dollars are applied to setting California on a course of renewable and environmentally sustainable energy, it’s money better spent than on the pipe that was seized by these same Californians.  

Along the long bumpy row to which I have applied my hoe, I have gained some lessons.  What I have given to get this project – time, money, and effort, I have stolen from my family.  Part of me will live under the cloud of curse words and funky moods that have characterized my struggle of two decades.  I gave myself to an obsession and, only for the grace of a greater Engineer than me, found success on the other side having spent about thirty thousand dollars and almost 2% of my life expectancy.  My usual advice to someone contemplating alternative energy is to stay on the grid.