Protecting Wild Steelhead in Southern Oregon

Goal: Protect the future of Oregon’s Rogue River and south coast wild fish in the face of uncertainty

SIGN UP FOR ACTION ALERTS

How we can achieve our goal:

It is our hope that the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s final plan takes a precautionary approach to protecting southern Oregon’s wild fish. We strongly recommend that the plan include accurate monitoring of identified species, clear management triggers and actions if species decline to conservation status, and responsible hatchery management practices that reflect the best available science.


How you can help:

Sign up for action alerts and use your voice to encourage fisheries managers to implement wild fish management in southern Oregon before its too late.


The Background:

Native Fish Society envisions a Rogue and south coast full of abundant wild fish, free flowing rivers, and thriving local communities. Over the past year Native Fish Society River Stewards, and staff have been working with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) to create a Rogue South Coast Conservation Management plan (RSP) for the watersheds and communities of Southwestern Oregon. The management plan came to fruition through the most recent efforts to provide precautionary management of wild winter steelhead in southern Oregon through catch and release angling and the absence of adequate adult steelhead monitoring. This campaign’s background is extensive yet critical for wild native fish, free flowing rivers, and thriving local communities.


What's on the Line:

Recently, ODFW released their first draft of the conservation management plan outlining hatchery actions, fishing actions, habitat actions, other species actions, research and monitoring actions, outreach/enforcement actions, and other facilities actions. NFS and other stakeholders of the Rogue and South Coast provided input for ODFW on the RSP draft as part of the public process. We commend ODFW for the hard work during unprecedented times to host this process and develop a draft plan for southern Oregon.

It is our hope that the final draft of the plan takes a precautionary approach to fish management, incorporating accurate monitoring of identified species, clear management triggers and actions if species decline to conservation status, and responsible hatchery management practices that reflect the best available science. Wild fish are critical to the Rogue and coast’s entire ecosystem coast and provide for the many rural communities in southwestern Oregon.


Native Fish Society has the following concerns with the January draft of the RSP:

  1. The plan lacks distinct management triggers and specific actions that will be implemented when these triggers are observed. (e.g. adult escapement in Chetco River is below conservation status, what actions will be implemented? Is falling below conservation status a trigger?)
  2. It increases the current risk from harvest on wild Winter Steelhead by sanctioning harvest rates in small and medium sized streams higher than currently estimated.
  3. It continues the harvest of wild fish throughout watersheds that don’t have sufficient data on returning adult fish.
  4. It expands the negative influence of hatchery fish through proposed additional Mixed Emphasis Areas (hatchery release areas), acclimation facilities for hatchery fish, and hatchery smolt increases.
  5. Proposed monitoring to collect this data is included in the plan, but the adequate monitoring data necessary to craft management decisions will not be available for another five years.

Native Fish Society does not believe taking these additional risks are justified by the best available science or the precautionary approach described in ODFW’s Native Fish Conservervation Policy or the recently adopted Climate and Ocean Change Policy. Further, the plan falls short of the directives in the Climate and Ocean Change Policy. For these reasons, we cannot support the hatchery or harvest actions outlined in the draft plan.

We encourage you to stay engaged with this topic by signing up below for action alerts related to this campaign. We will share how you can advocate for the future of wild fish in these cherished basins, such as by showing up at the ODFW’s public meeting related to this plan (date TBD). In the meantime, please share this story with friends and followers, asking them to support better management of our wild native fish, free flowing rivers, and thriving local communities.


Learn more about this issue:

Native Fish Society hosted a Lunch and Learn featuring a presentation on the Rogue South Coast Conservation Management Plan, by Rogue River Steward and Owner and Operator of Anderson Custom Rods, Charles Gehr and Southern Oregon Regional Coordinator, Kirk Blaine, on Wednesday, April 14th, from 12:00 - 12:45 pm. The presentation was around 40 minutes with 20 minutes of Q&A and discussion.

If you agree that Southern Oregon’s wild fish are worth protecting, sign up for action alerts below!


For the full background, please visit the historical Wild Steelhead Release campaign page. To engage further with this campaign, please contact our Southern Oregon Regional Coordinator Kirk Blaine at kirk@nativefishsociety.org

Join the Movement.

Help us protect our precious watersheds with your support.

Become a Member