River Steward Stories: Meet Ben Leyva!
Meet Ben Leyva! Ben dove in (every pun intended) with both feet, right into the White Salmon redd count project. Ben has been one of our most active volunteers on the White Salmon, logging more than 50 miles scouting for Coho and now Steelhead redds in Spring, Mill, and Buck Creek. Below is a little bit more about Ben, and also ways you can join him and others in this important work. Put simply, Ben brings the stoke to wild fish conservation!
River Steward Name:
River(s) or Waterways of interest:
Sandy River (OR), White Salmon River (WA)
1. What do you consider your homewaters?
I consider the Sandy River to be my home river and the White Salmon River is a place that I have built a strong connection to through ongoing surveys of its tributaries.
2. What interests you in being a River Steward?
The opportunity to help protect places and creatures that I care deeply about and to give back to a resource that has provided me with so much.
3. What does being a River Steward mean to you? Why is it important?
Being a River Steward means a commitment and dedication to staying engaged and involved with the river and the issues that impact it. River Stewardship is important because it gives a voice to the river and the creatures it sustains.
4. What are you working on in your homewaters? Are there any successes or challenges that you would like to share?
On the White Salmon, I am continuing to participate in ongoing redd surveys to help monitor for anadromous recolonization a decade after the Condit dam removal.
5. Are there threats you are concerned about? Or upcoming actions that people can help with?
A current concern on the White Salmon is a lack of resources available to support monitoring efforts. Ongoing volunteers are invaluable for supporting the collection of data to better understand the populations on the White Salmon. On the Sandy ongoing hatchery releases, urban growth/development, and logging within the headwaters are areas of concern.
What do you hope for the future of this watershed? What do you want your community to know?
For both the Sandy and the White Salmon I hope for a future that continues to support the health and wildness of these places. Both of these previously dammed rivers now run wild and free, which is something to be celebrated. I hope we can build upon these previous efforts and minimize the threats of hatchery fish to our wild populations while continuing to restore and protect the important habitat they need. I think it’s critical to recognize the importance of building connections. Connecting people to each other, but also connecting individuals to rivers. Conservation and advocacy stem from participation. We have to build and maintain our own connections to the places we care about as well as seek opportunities to help others forge their own connection.
WE NEED MORE VOLUNTEERS FOR THE WHITE SALMON RIVER PROJECT. PLEASE CONTACT J MICHELLE SWOPE OR LIZ PERKIN TO EXPRESS YOUR INTEREST! YOU CAN REACH LIZ BY EMAILING LIZ@NATIVEFISHSOCIETY.ORG AND/OR J MICHELLE AT JMICHELLE@NATIVEFISHSOCIETY.ORG