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    Mill Creek Wild Bird Feeding.

    Salem, Oregon - Pretty As A Postcard

    Feeding ended in the latter part of 2010.

    The City closed the parking area which ended the feeding. Without parking, the area is landlocked and available only on foot or bicycle. While they are present in the area, without feeding, the birds do not congregate.

    The reasoning for the closure made sense. Sanitation being a primary concern; the parking lot and lawns were pretty messy. Much of the feeding (the key attractant) was during the summer so without rain, goose, duck and pigeon poop collected.

    Then, as every resident of Salem knows, ducks crossing State Street tied up traffic (in a pastoral way), and now & then there would be a reminder of one that didn't make it. There were wild and domestic mixed together which can provide a way for disease to go from domestic to wild populations.

    The lot closure was discreet and effective in solving the problems in short order. Access to the area now is by bicycle or on foot.

    Not mentioned however in the reports to the city were the positive things this place offered locals. An inexpensive, fun field trip. Parents have taken their children here for 50 years to introduce them to wildlife, closeup. No alternatives were suggested, only the closure.

    20 years ago Mill Creek had a population of Chinook Salmon that spawned on this section of the stream. Every September locals would stop and look for spawning salmon in the 10-15 pound size. An oil spill killed the run and it was never re-established. One reason given was 'they weren't native to the creek', which doesn't hold up when many Oregon rivers have non-native runs of Siletz steelhead in them.

    I don't know for sure, but I'll wager the parking lot was originally built so people could watch the salmon & use the parklike lawn areas. Someone with the knowhow should jump on this as an opportunity to re-establish this chinook run. They were self-sustaining and offered nutrients to the watershed. They were fun and educational to watch. Right in the middle of Salem, spawning salmon.

    Why not look for a way to re-start the chinook run? Then post the parking area with signage that prohibits feeding of any kind with an announced dollar penalty.

    Jon Hazen, editor

    On the north side of State Street, just east of 25th, is a small parking lot next to Mill Creek. Wild geese, ducks, pigeons and sea gulls find their way here knowing there is often a handout. This is a favorite spot of Salem residents where children can often hand feed wild birds to everyone's delight.

    Folks go to one of the "day old bread" stores (OroWheat has one on Silverton Road at Hawthorne - NW corner) where they purchase inexpensive bread or rolls to feed the geese and whomever might be dropping in for a bite.

    Parents: Watch your children. The stream bank may be slippery.

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