Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Now Back To Our Regularly Scheduled Rant

Oh yes friends I have got plenty to rant about too!
I was reading in the latest edition of Northwest Fly Fishing about how the state of Washington is cutting back on hatchery winter steelhead releases in the Cowlitz river and they have raised the bag limit from two fish to six fin clipped steelhead.
Why are they doing this? Why all of the sudden has Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife decided maybe just maybe wild fish are important enough to try to restore in this major Columbia tributary? It's not just hatchery steelhead that are being cut back either. WDFW is also taking steps to restore wild salmon and coastal cutthroat trout.
Now admittedly it may be too late to save SW Washington wild salmonids. The damage has been both severe and long lasting. I recall a day some thirty two years ago standing above the Cowlitz river and seeing the thousands of hatchery winter steelhead stacked up below Barrier Dam. Of course the fishermen were also "stacked up" trying to hook them! It was not exactly what I would call a defining moment of pristine Pacific Northwest angling if you know what I mean. The state of Washington had turned the Cowlitz into just another hatchery fish super highway and the damage may be irreversible but we can hope.
The point of this rant, however, is why can't we get the same enlightenment here in Oregon ? Heck why can't we get the same enlightenment on the northern coast of Oregon for that matter?

I went to an ODFW budget meeting the other night and had the pleasure of meeting Todd Alsbury, a fish biologist for ODFW. Todd is in charge of the winter steelhead broodstock programs on both the Clackamas and Sandy rivers. He told me that they do not use 100% wild stock for the source of eggs for this program like is done on the Wilson, Siletz and Nestucca rivers. They use only 30% and they see to it that the returning generation broodstock off springs do not stray into the upper river to mix with wild fish. Hey I call that pretty progressive don't you? We know that the hatchery spectre is here to stay and we have become addicted to it and therefore it would be impossible to totally end hatcheries. While it is not realistic to think we can end all hatchery plants we can expect and even demand responsible hatchery practices and procedures. We are not getting this on the northwest coastal river of Oregon and you just have to wonder why?
Why is our neighboring state trying to undo years of hatchery fish damage to great rivers like the Cowlitz.Taking it a step further even in regions of our own state progressive thinking fish biologists are trying, within the constraints and agendas put forth by ODFW mind you, to take into consideration the plight of wild salmonids?
This is what you get with no basin management plan and district biologists are given pretty much free reign as far as this program goes.So who is running the show in Tillamook? Why is there such a vast difference between Oregon and Washington and even within different regions around the state? I cannot get information from district biologists as to how much time they actually spend on wild cutthroat populations in the Tillamook basin much less answers to the way the wild fish are managed or should I say mismanaged.
I was,however, able to find a picture of who is in charge in Tillamook and it's posted above.....nyuck, nyuck, nuyck.

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