Encouraging news for wild fish from ODFW Town Hall

Last night in Salem, ODFW held an open house town hall meeting.

Based on last night’s meeting, I feel the agency is really headed in the right direction. ODFW Fish Division Director Ed Bowles and his staff made some statements that convinced me conservation of wild fish is the agency’s number one priority, while trying to balance that with the demand for more “opportunity” — hatcheries and harvest. The agency’s plan to tackle a six-species coastal river conservation plan for the Columbia to California is going to be one of the most ambitious and important conservation projects our state has ever tackled.

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People from the conservation community brought up great issues last night. Rob Russell discussed the need to remove hatchery summer steelhead from coastal rivers with native summer runs (Rogue, Umpqua, Siletz). Spencer Miles discussed wild winter steelhead issues on the Sandy River. Chris Daughters made the case for a wild McKenzie River.

Angler’s discussed the decline of our native sturgeon, warm water fisheries opportunities,

The room was packed with anglers who might not agree on hatchery-wild fish issues, but sitting face to face with them in a mediated setting was beneficial to both sides. But we need you to be there at the next public ODFW meeting. Keep an eye on this schedule and sign up for the email list.

If you were at the meeting last night, what are your impressions?
-MS

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3 Responses to Encouraging news for wild fish from ODFW Town Hall

  1. I’ve left some of my thoughts here: http://whitefishcantjump.com/post/2610772111/an-evening-with-odfw

    I was disappointed, but not surprised by their response on the Sandy steelhead issues. Bruce McIntosh said that ongoing releases of 250,000 hatchery steelhead smolts is a reasonable path to recovery. The sandy run is so depressed that current natural production is about 25,000 smolts (450 hens * 3,000 eggs * 1.9% egg-to-smolt survival rate). Sandy River native steelhead will never recover if they’re being outnumbered 10 to 1 by hatchery fish.

    The encouraging part of the meeting was the support for wild fish, particularly from the younger generation. Virtually every person under the age of 45 was a proponent of fewer hatchery programs and more wild fish. This was in stark contrast with the older generation. I find it very encouraging that so many younger folks are sick and tired of the exploitation of our fisheries and want to see a return to healthier wild runs.

    Overall a good meeting. ODFW is heading in the right direction on a lot of rivers, albeit very slowly. And on some rivers, like the Sandy, time is not a luxury we can afford.

    And I couldn’t agree more with Matt that we need more of you to show up to these meetings in the future.

  2. Rob R says:

    It was incredibly obvious that the old guard are deeply addicted to put-and-take programs. They came across as a bunch of addicts jonesing for more drugs. It’s not all their fault, as they were brought up in that environment, and in an era when humans thought they could beat Mother Nature. Additionally, it was quite clear from their complaints that they are unable to fish effectively, so their perceptions of the fisheries are clouded by their decreasing abilities to fish. May sound harsh, but that’s what came out in the comments. Thankfully, as Spencer says, the younger crowd, and the more able anglers, stood up for the long-term protection of wild salmon and steelhead.

  3. Matt says:

    The generational gap is really a fundamental issue. That’s the main reason I wasted my comments talking about moving ODFW commission meetings to evenings. It’s hard enough getting anglers in their 20s and 30s involved in these insanely boring processes, let alone getting them to take off work to go do this. While most of the guys complaining that “We just need to put more fish in the river” are chomping at the bit to get the hell out of the house, drink some free coffee and have an audience to listen to them whine about the good old days. Anybody who’s been around this process knows that the most convincing thing in the world is face-time with the people making the rules, and it’s hard to do that when you’re holding down a nine-to-five.

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