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Support Wild Steelhead on the North Umpqua River at the May Auction!

Next month’s Keith Hansen Memorial Paddle Raise will support conservation efforts on the spectacular North Umpqua River. The well-deserved grant honorees have a track record of devotion to the river and its wild fish. First, The North Umpqua Foundation (TNUF) has funded the Fishwatch Program for two decades. Years of observations from its long-time caretaker, Lee Spencer, were recently published in the book, A Temporary Refuge: Fourteen Seasons with Wild Summer Steelhead

Here is an excerpt from the grant application submitted from TNUF:

The North Umpqua FishWatch is a cooperative program using outreach, deterrence and public education to protect native steelhead and salmon stocks in Steamboat Creek, a tributary of the North Umpqua River, from poaching and harassment.

The concern: Wild summer steelhead runs on the North Umpqua River range from 2,000 to 4,000 fish. Each year, an average of 500 wild summer steelhead hold in the Big Bend Pool (aka The Dynamite Hole) in Steamboat Creek, arriving in May and staying in the pool until the fall rains come, as late as mid-December. Those holding in the Big Bend Pool alone can account for 12 to 25 percent of the total run and over 30 percent of the run returning to Steamboat Creek. This pool is in a remote location but quite accessible from Forest Service Road 38 which receives high recreation traffic during the summer and fall. The fish are clearly visible to anyone who might stop at the location and although Steamboat Creek is closed to angling, there is a troubled history of dynamiting, snagging and other illegal take of fish at this pool along with other pools in Steamboat Creek.

Funds from the FCO/FFF auction will go to support the continued presence of the caretaker to deter poachers and continue his stewardship over the Big Bend Pool.

Check out the TNUF Facebook page for more information.

Our second grantees, the Steamboaters and Trout Unlimited, submitted a grant designed to improve the technology for fish counting at Winchester Dam. Accurate fish counting of salmonids is critical for monitoring the health of the anadromous fish runs and evaluating effects of changing climate, fishery management, and conservation efforts. Fish counting at the dam is under the purview of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW). As agency budgets shrank, the fish counts on the North Umpqua fell behind. Steamboaters members were alarmed and stepped up by purchasing software called Fish Tick and hardware to help ODFW accurately obtain counts at Winchester Dam. Your support at the FCO/FFF auction will help fund the purchase of additional hardware and interns studying fisheries at Umpqua Community College and Oregon State University who will help volunteers review the data obtained by Fish Tick. The passion and history these groups have for the North Umpqua is reflected in these words from their grant application:

Our organizations (Steamboaters and Trout Unlimited) have made decades of investments in this watershed and the protection of its steelhead populations are of the highest priority for us. Additionally, both of our organizations have established long term, positive relationships with managing partners and are perfectly positioned to guarantee success for this program.

Check out the Trout Unlimited NW Website and Steamboaters Facebook page.

Lisa Hansen

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