Tuesday, February 28, 2012


The Native Fish Society has an important mission that others believe in and support. We are making progress.  I have worked in native fish conservation for more than 40 years and have spent time with legislators in my constant effort to strengthen and fund conservation.  Senator Jan Wyers responded in the 1980s by funding five native fish conservation positions at ODFW.  It was though that program that key people were hired and important work for Oregon’s wild salmonids was accomplished.  In 2012 the legislature is again concerned about the future of wild salmonids as more and more populations are  protected under the ESA and others are lost forever.  The NFS Hatchery Accountability Project clearly states that there needs to be better accountability for biological and cost impacts of hatchery programs. There have been two hearings this session and in the next session our goal is to hold the agency accountable. 

At one time it was possible to expect administrative solutions to problems affecting native fish management by government agencies, but that has changed, so legal action is necessary to force the government  to follow its own rules and comply with state and federal law.  This is why we have put ODFW on notice to clean-up its Sandy Hatchery program so that wild winter steelhead, coho, fall chinook and spring chinook are protected and a path is opened up for their recovery under the ESA.   A 76% stray rate of hatchery spring chinook into the wild chinook spawning grounds is not acceptable under state or federal rules and it needs to be corrected. 

We are in Stevenson Washington tonight defending the management program for recovery of wild summer steelhead in Wind River.  This run has been protected as a wild steelhead management river since 1982, but there is local pressure for a stock and kill fishery.  We are involved in these public meetings to make sure that the Wind River wild summer steelhead continue to rebuild and eventually recover.

The NFS is working for wild salmon, steelhead and trout throughout the Northwest through direct action and by supporting the good work of other groups.  Our volunteer river stewards are working in their communities for healthy watersheds and native fish.  It is a big job and for a small organization and it can seem wild and wooly, but we are undaunted in our efforts and we have a record of success when we take time to look in the rear-view mirror. 

I am committed to the future of the Native Fish Society because it is an effective advocate for native wild fish in the Northwest.  We base our advocacy on the best available science and there is a lot of it being published that has direct bearing on our conservation work.  We have a history of success but we could do better with more funding and more folks to push our advocacy program forward.  The point is that as we grow our funding base we do so without sacrificing our mission for native wild fish.   The organization and its leadership have made that commitment and with the support of our members and friends we can be successful in solving complex and difficult problems for wild native fish in the region. 

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