Empowering Place-Based Advocacy for Wild, Native Fish

Witnessing 130 years of decline, over 30% of the Pacific Northwest’s original 1,400 salmonid populations are extinct while an additional 30% are threatened (Gustafson et al 2007). Unlike most regions of the world, however, the Pacific Northwest has the rare opportunity to reverse the decline of its wild, native fish, protect currently healthy stocks and gift future generations with the symbol of our region’s wild past and future vitality. These threatened wild, native fish are the sacred legacy of Pacific Northwest homewaters and Native Fish Society is dedicated to their protection, recovery and return to abundance.

Thanks to a sea change of public action driving environmental policy during the ‘70s and ‘80s, tremendous public research has furnished the scientific understanding essential to addressing the root causes of wild salmon and steelhead decline.  However, until this information is meaningfully disseminated to policy makers, implemented on the ground by agencies and cooperatives and supported vocally by passionate local advocates and their communities – the keystone fish species of our region will continue their slide toward extinction.

NFS is strategically equipped to ensure that sound science informs good policy, driving on-the-ground changes that are supported by local communities with the understanding that ecological and human health are closely intertwined. Ultimately, we believe that no effort for wild fish protection and recovery is stronger or more effective than those initiated and sustained by local communities.

To implement this conservation philosophy, NFS created a boots-on-the-ground, region-wide, volunteer based River Steward Program in 2004. River Stewards are the local voices for wild fish, connecting the dots between the best-available science, latest policy decisions and their own place-based knowledge.

River Stewards engage in:

  • policy making
  • coalition building
  • watershed and fish monitoring
  • community outreach and education
  • habitat protection
  • partnership based habitat restoration
  • advocacy in public meetings and before decision makers
  • research to learn the habitat, life history and biological characteristics of native species

River Stewards not only aid community led habitat restoration efforts, they stop habitat degradation before it starts; a much more cost effective strategy than focusing solely on fixing areas already impaired. Often successful stewardship strategies have been shared among River Stewards across the Pacific Northwest to preserve the cold-water habitats essential to wild fish everywhere.

If you would like to learn more about becoming a River Steward and live north of the Umpqua watershed please contact our Program Director, Conrad Gowell, at (503) 344 – 4218 or conrad@nativefishsociety.org. If you live in the Umpqua watershed or south, please contact Southern Region Manager, Jake Crawford, at (720) 253 - 8485 or jake@nativefishsociety.org