Archive | May, 2016

STEP Volunteers survey metro-area steelhead at Rogue Valley’s Bear Creek

Rogue Valley - bear creek

For years STEP volunteers have trapped wild steelhead in urban areas of the Rogue Valley’s Bear Creek tributaries. During that time, it became apparent that juvenile steelhead rely on the smallest seasonal streams as refuge during high water events. What hasn’t been known is how far they travel within the watershed.

In attempt to get answers to that question, Rogue area STEP biologist Ryan Battleson and area volunteers began fin clipping juveniles caught in traps. Now when young fish are captured again in another stream survey trap, the STEP team will have a better idea of where the steelhead hideout and how far they travel within the basin.

Trapping began in 2005 in 34 Rogue Basin streams, including 11 Bear Creek Tributaries. Results exceeded expectations from the onset. Young steelhead were caught in every trap that was placed, including five streams that were thought to be fishless. Continue Reading →

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Children learn about steelhead spawning cycle

Photo by Dolly Greene - steelhead spawning

Since 2007, Florence area third graders have learned about the spawning cycle of wild steelhead from STEP volunteers. The classroom is the Whitaker Fish trap, which sits a few hundred feet from the Siuslaw River that feeds into the Pacific Ocean.

Students study not only the steelhead life cycle, but also steelhead anatomy, stream ecology and how steelhead populations positively affect local flora and fauna.

The students watch as full-grown steelhead are separated one-at-a-time. The wild fish are released up-stream from the trap to spawn naturally. The hatchery-raised fish are marked, milked of their eggs and milt, then released downstream. This process ensures that only wild steelhead spawn above the trap in Whitaker Creek. Continue Reading →

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Meet the Bio: Ryan Battleson

Ryan Battleson

Ryan Battleson, STEP’s Upper Rogue District biologist, has experience working the entire Rogue watershed, with stints in ODWF’s Gold Beach office and as a crew leader for Lower Rogue steelhead before taking his current position. His district is comprised of the upper Rogue basin east to Crater Lake and from the Cascade Range to the highest reaches of the coast range to the west.

In addition to survey work (see the lead story in this issue), Battleson works with government agencies and fishing club presidents as a member of the area watershed council, coordinates a spring salmon eggs-to-fry program for about 20 area schools, manages small riparian restoration projects, and works hand-in-hand with small stream urban landowners to increase habitat.

“This district is somewhat unique because we don’t have any large STEP hatcheries, as we sit in a highly populated area centered in the Rogue watershed. That makes the needs of the district different than most,” Battleson noted.

Did You know:

STEP volunteers improved more than 650 miles of waterways for fish last year alone through fish passage, riparian and fish carcass placement projects, and the Keep Oregon Rivers Clean (KORC) program. Get involved!

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Meet the Bio: Evan Leonetti

Evan LeonettiEvan Leonetti started his career in Douglas County in 2005 after getting his degree in fisheries and wildlife at OSU. Today his career has come full circle as STEP’s newest biologist, covering the Umpqua region, which runs from Diamond Lake in the Cascades to Reedsport and Gardner on the coast.

“It’s a large, diverse area. One day I might be on the coast coordinating winter steelhead broodstock with local guides. The next I could be high the Cascades on a horse stocking rainbow trout in a remote Douglas County lake. Later on in that week, I might be working with local guides to conduct floating adult spawning surveys,” said Leonetti.

And when he’s not in the field, you’ll likely find Leonetti in a classroom teaching young children about trout through the egg-to-fry program. He provides eggs for 33 classrooms in his district.

Leonetti’s goal is “to expand beyond production projects, by focusing on more restoration in the future.”

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