The North Umpqua River is not in Central Oregon but it is close enough that I have spent a considerable amount of time there over the years swinging flies for steelhead. It is difficult fishing but until the past few years it has been rewarding. It is still beautiful, although recent fires did burn some of the landscape. Like so many other rivers in Oregon the steelhead numbers have plummeted, especially the summer run which saw only 450 adult returns last year. These iconic fish in one of the west coast’s most storied steelhead rivers are clearly in peril. As a result, ODFW has been asked by some fishing groups to stop the release of hatchery steelhead in the river which have been scientifically proven to have a detrimental impact on wild fish. ODFW is now considering what actions to take and is soliciting public feedback. Keep reading for how to get involved.
Here is ODFW’s recently created and sparsely populated “North Umpqua Summer Steelhead Information” webpage. Here is their press release with information on how to submit feedback. Not all of the links are working yet, but I encourage you to take the survey and listen to the April 7 webinar and the April 22 ODFW Commission meeting where a decision will be made. If you can make it to Roseburg on March 29, ODFW is holding a “workshop” from 6-8 pm where they hope to hear from 100 people in person. Registration is required.
I am sure that some people will ask for continued and even increased hatchery releases. Wild fish advocates need to have their voices heard as well. I regularly watch Commission meetings online and only hope they step out of character and do what is required to protect wild fish this time.