The ODFW Restoration & Enhancement Board, where I am a member, had another interesting and productive meeting today. Today, we helped fund a number of projects, including two local ones. $20K was allocated for another summer of netting tui chub and brown bullhead catfish in local high lakes. This effort has been critical to maintaining healthy sport fishing in places like East Lake for many years. In addition, $101K was given to the Deschutes Land Trust’s Ochoco Preserve, contributing to their $1.7M project. This project should be of interest to anyone who fishes the Crooked River or who is interested in anadromous fish reintroduction in the Upper Deschutes Basin.
I had the opportunity to ask ODFW management about how the extreme low levels in local lakes and reservoirs would impact their plans to release hatchery fish. Ramps in some water bodies may not extend to the water for hatchery truck or recreational boat access. Even if reachable, some water bodies may not support normal hatchery placements. Conversely, low water levels could provide an opportunity for additional invasive species removal efforts. They are looking at these issues but have no firm plans at this point.
I also asked about emergency changes to fishing regulations due to low water levels, forecasts for low steelhead returns, and the ongoing drought. Those changes are being contemplated and some could be announced as early as next week. It’s going to be an interesting fishing season.
Finally, we were given an overview of how the recently passed Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act includes $11B nationwide for natural resources. This was characterized as a “once in a lifetime” opportunity for Oregon fish and wildlife. Planning is underway for how to secure a portion of these funds for Oregon, I volunteered to play a small role in that process. You can learn more at ODFW’s new webpage, along with tips on how to apply for funds.