Archive | August, 2016

Bucket biology and its impact on Oregon’s fisheries (Part 1)

bucket biology

In the cool waters of Diamond Lake, anglers can fish for rainbow trout surrounded by the beauty of Diamond Peak and the encompassing forest.

In eastern Oregon’s Ontario, at a location accessible by car, entry-level anglers can find easy fishing success thanks to a schooling blue gill population.

And in the mountainous areas of Central Oregon, fisheries for kokanee, brown trout and rainbow trout are alive and well in Paulina and East lakes, part of the Newberry Crater.

Yet these fisheries and many others like them throughout Oregon are always at risk thanks to a silent danger that could at any time begin lurking below their surfaces.

Invasive species introduced to the lakes and reservoirs by individuals who dump leftover live bait into the water, not realizing the harm, or by others who want to change the fishing grounds themselves, take over.

This so-called “bucket biology” is harmful to fisheries, disappointing for anglers who count on getting a good catch at their favorite lakes, and it’s illegal with a hefty fine for those who are caught.

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ODFW STEP turns 35 this year!

ODFW Step birthday

When STEP biologist Tom Rumreich thinks about how much good the Salmon and Trout Enhancement Program has done for fish and habitat in its 35 years, he thinks of the volunteers who’ve planted countless trees to shape and stabilize banks.

He can picture the multitude of children who’ve had the opportunity to catch and learn about fish.

He recalls a creek restoration project in the program’s earliest days, where gravel and hatchbox fry Coho salmon were added where habitat had been damaged. He’s excited today to know that now, three-and-a-half decades later the Coho are still there.

In other projects, volunteers have corrected fish passage in places where barriers kept salmon from getting back to historic spawning areas.

“The small streams and barriers like that, looking at them individually, it’s not significant, but when you look at them collectively along the coast of Oregon, it’s huge,” Rumreich said.

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North coast High School program teaches students fisheries biology

North Coast High School Program

Not every 16-year-old kid knows how to work with spawning salmon, incubate a freshwater fish egg, rear the juveniles and then release them into a river or bay.

Yet quite a large number of teenagers in Clatsop County have learned exactly that in the past several decades thanks to hatchery programs at both Astoria and Warrenton high schools.

In these programs, science isn’t found only in textbooks, but in real-life examples.

“A lot of the kids are really craving that. …They want to see and experience it,” said Lee Cain, a science teacher at Astoria High School. “Once they get up close and personal with living organisms, a lot of kids are really hooked.”

Cain teaches the aquatic biology program at Astoria High.

The program began on a much smaller scale in the early 1970s, when teacher Eldon Korpela began working with students to rear salmon eggs in buckets, Cain said.

Now the program has a classroom, a data lab, a research lab and a wet lab, as well as tanks and ponds.

Students can take semester-long fisheries biology and marine biology classes.

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Meet the Bio: Katherine Nordholm

Katherine NordholmWhen Katherine Nordholm was in high school, she toured a Salmon and Trout Enhancement Program fish hatchery in the Coos Bay area.

She found herself so interested in the program, that by summer she had joined it as a volunteer.

Now, more than a decade later and with two college degrees behind her, Nordholm is a STEP biologist who works out of the Springfield office.

“It really just kind of sprung out of the experience and really enjoying the fisheries work that I did there, and wanting to make it a career,” Nordholm said. “I always thought this would be the best job ever, and now I have it.”

Nordholm, who was raised in Coos Bay, has a bachelor’s degree in biology and a master’s degree in fisheries science, both from Oregon State University.

In addition to volunteering for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife for many years, Nordholm also worked for the department for about five years between degrees, in an entry-level position, where she did stream and coho spawning surveys and worked on the salmonid life-cycle monitoring project.

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ODFW R&E Board position open

ODFW R&E ProgramEvery year, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Restoration and Enhancement Program gives $2 million to $3 million to fishery projects that benefit sport and commercial fisheries. The projects aim for a balance of both restoration and enhancement, to continually improve our state’s fishing grounds.

The program’ board studies proposed projects, listens to public comment on them, and makes recommendations for funding to the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission.

One of the people helping to make these important project recommendations could be you.

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife is seeking applicants for the board’s public-at-large position. The position is one of seven, with the others divided evenly between the commercial and sports fishing interests.

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