Stream profile chamber gives close-up view of fish |

Stream profile chamber gives close-up view of fish

Jim Grant
Jim Grant / Tahoe Daily Tribune Lindsay Gusses, a ranger/naturalist with the U.S. Forest Service, washes the windows of the stream profile chamber in preparation for this weekend's opening.

Armed with brushes, buckets, sponges and hoses, U.S. Forest Service rangers Paul McCulloch and Lindsay Gusses waged a war on scum. In a process similar to cleaning a home aquarium, with fish removed and water lowered, the two Forest Service employees, wearing hip waders, were cleaning the stream profile chamber and Rainbow Pool at the Taylor Creek Visitors Center.

“The rocks look great, but the lower windows need more brushing,” shouted Forest Service Visitor Center Director Michael St. Michel over the drone of a generator pumping water out of the pool. St. Michel, who has personal experience in the trenches cleaning scum and debris off the rocks and windows of the chamber, was checking the progress of his cleanup crew before this weekend’s opening to the public.

The popular stream exhibit, which now attracts nearly 400,000 visitors a year, was the brainchild of Forest Service employee Bob Morris, who was stationed at Lake Tahoe back in the early 1960s. The direction of the Forest Service back then was to build interpretive centers and trails, St. Michel noted.

“That is when the Lake of the Sky Amphitheater, Rainbow Trail and stream profile chamber were all built,” St. Michel said. “Construction of the stream profile chamber was started in 1967, completed in the fall of 1968 and dedicated in July of 1969,” he said.

In 1997, a two-year, $670,000 renovation of the chamber was completed with the installation of new floor-to-ceiling bay windows that jut into the pool, and a mural and diorama that depict the habitat and wildlife above and below Taylor Creek through the four seasons.

“We can’t give visitors a mask and snorkel, so the chamber allows visitors to immerse themselves into Taylor Creek and see rainbow trout, German brown trout, kokanee salmon and minnows. It is a very natural habitat to view the fish,” St. Michel said.

The stream profile chamber will open to the public starting this Saturday and be open daily through October.

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