For this installment of “Organization of the Month,” we sat down with Native Fish Society’s Executive Director, Mark Sherwood. Native Fish Society engages in the protection of–yes, you guessed it, native, wild fish in the Pacific Northwest, specifically. Historically, the Pacific Northwest supported breathtaking runs of salmon and steelhead. Human intervention and other activities, however, have crippled those salmon and steelhead runs. Native Fish Society works to restore and protect these once-prolific runs through advocacy, science, and volunteer support. Follow along for the full interview!
Flylords: For fly fishermen and women native fish are fundamental to our sport and, at times, drive us crazy. Can you talk about how and why Native Fish Society started?
NFS: Native Fish Society was founded in 1995 by renowned conservationist Bill Bakke and a small group of passionate advocates who celebrated the importance of naturally reproducing, locally adapted fish to the health of Pacific Northwest watersheds and communities. Before retiring from Native Fish Society in 2016, Bill worked in fish conservation for nearly 50 years as a prolific writer, authoring over 100 articles for sporting, news, and scientific journals. Bill focused Native Fish Society’s wild fish advocacy efforts on the Columbia River and its tributaries, submitting comments and testimony on fisheries management and hatchery operations. In the early days of the Native Fish Society, the Columbia River’s wild salmon and steelhead were experiencing unparalleled declines. To revive wild fish to abundance, Bill led petitions to protect Snake River Chinook Salmon, Oregon Coastal Coho Salmon and Columbia River Coho Salmon under the federal Endangered Species Act. Bill’s advocacy inspired generations of anglers and advocates to speak up for the diversity and resilience of wild fish and the importance of their backyard homewaters.
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