Our Heartfelt Thanks As We Bid Farewell to Jake Crawford

This fall Native Fish Society wishes to say thanks and farewell to longtime staff member, Jake Crawford. For the last seven years, Jake Crawford has filled several conservation positions at Native Fish Society, and we are grateful for his tireless work with River Stewards on behalf of wild fish and their homewaters across the Northwest during his tenure.

A native of Colorado, after finishing graduate school Jake journeyed west with his dog and truck on the single mission of chasing steelhead around the wild rivers of the Pacific Northwest. He landed in the Rogue Valley and was introduced to NFS through board member Peter Tronquet. In 2012, he started as a volunteer River Steward for southern Oregon’s Illinois River. To help implement the organization’s strategic growth and need for River Steward support in southern Oregon and northern California, he joined NFS in a full-time staff position as Southern District Manager in 2013. In this role, Jake expanded Native Fish Society’s grassroots presence in the region, growing the program from a handful of River Stewards to supporting almost two dozen place-based volunteers on key watersheds.

With a background in environmental policy combined with his passion for wild fish, Jake helped launch and support some of NFS’s most important campaigns in the region. A few of Jake’s contributions include: organizing community meetings with River Stewards to stop a proposed nickel mine that threatened over 100,000 acres of wild salmon habitat on the Oregon south coast; working with River Stewards and partners across the state to secure protections for 23,000 miles of habitat from suction dredge miners who were tearing up critical wild salmon and steelhead habitat; and leading efforts with volunteers to provide a better scientific understanding of the high-value, coldwater habitat above fish blocking Scott Dam in the headwaters of California’s Eel River.

Jake then moved north to assume the role of River Steward Program Director at Native Fish Society’s main office in Oregon City. He was instrumental in continuing the growth and support of the River Steward Program, organizing annual River Steward training events, and writing grants to support River Steward projects, such as our Coastal Cutthroat Trout research in South Puget Sound and temperature monitoring work in the Eel River’s headwaters. He also served on a public advisory committee that secured the Grays and Chinook rivers as two of Washington’s newest Wild Steelhead Gene Banks, which protect wild steelhead by restricting hatchery steelhead releases in those rivers in perpetuity.

In 2016, Jake returned to Ashland, Oregon and has since worked directly with River Stewards along the Oregon coast, southern Oregon, and northern California, while overseeing NFS’s grant portfolio and building new partnerships and collaborations to advance our mission throughout the Northwest.

We want to extend a heartfelt thanks to Jake for his years of work with NFS as he transitions to a new position with our partners at the Ashland-based Fly Water Travel. Jake will continue to support the mission as a volunteer and looks forward to working with NFS to secure much-needed catch and release regulations for wild steelhead in southern Oregon.

While we send Jake off with gratitude for all he has done on behalf of the organization and our mission, we look forward to building upon the strong foundation that he laid for our River Steward and conservation programs. The incredible growth in our organization over the past several years has increased the scope of our work across the region, and we are committed to carrying the momentum forward. To that end, we are excited to announce that Jennifer Fairbrother will be assuming a new role with NFS as the organization’s Conservation Director. In this new position, Jennifer will support program staff in broadening and deepening the engagement of NFS River Stewards and Fellows, guide the strategic development and execution of our conservation campaigns, and work with conservation staff to build the groundswell of public support to revive abundant, wild fish.

Thank you, Jake, for all you have done for NFS and the people, fish, and rivers of the Pacific Northwest. We are so grateful that your dream of chasing wild steelhead and your desire to pursue a deeply-held conservation ethic led you to this work. All of us at NFS wish you the best in your new endeavor!

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