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ODFW seeking STEP Advisory Committee Volunteers in the North Coast & Upper Rogue

STAC-board-membersThe Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife is seeking volunteers to represent the North Coast and Upper Rogue STEP Districts on the Salmon and Trout Enhancement Program (STEP) Advisory Committee.

Applicants should be involved in local fishing or STEP groups, have previous community service experience or be involved in natural resource or angling education programs. New committee members would be asked to serve a four-year term, with the possibility of re-appointment for a total term of eight years. Members must be able to travel at least three times per year.
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STEP Volunteers provide over $2M in annual economic impact

STEP ReportAcross Oregon and throughout the year, Salmon and Trout Enhancement Program volunteers helped one of our state’s most important natural resources thrive.

STEP volunteers have a tremendous economic impact, with their efforts provide an equivalent of $2,261,000 each year. From October 2015 through September 2016, nearly 4,000 adults and 1,062 young volunteers contributed to STEP and helped the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife reach its fish management goals. Continue Reading →

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Bucket biology and its impact on Oregon’s fisheries (Part 3)

Paulina Lake - bucket biology effects on fisheries

When a trio of warm-water fishing groups joined together a handful of years ago to educate the public about illegal introductions of fish, it wasn’t just to help those who fish for largemouth bass, crappie, yellow perch or species that thrive in certain climates.

It was to help improve – and prevent problems in – fisheries throughout Oregon.

For many decades, and in all types of waterbodies statewide, carefully managed fisheries have battled the troublesome effects of illegal introduction of a huge variety of fish that don’t belong there.

They range from blue chub at Paulina Lake in Central Oregon to brown bullhead catfish at Howard Prairie Reservoir in Jackson County and Tui chub in Diamond Lake near Roseburg. Continue Reading →

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North Oregon Coast district infrastructure improvements

ADA Platform - north oregon coast watershed enhancements

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, and other organizations throughout the state, continue to improve boating and angling in Oregon lakes, rivers and streams. Here are a few highlights of improvements in the Northwest part of the state in recent months:

North Coast Watershed District

Nehalem River – In May, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife completed a boat ramp improvement project at the Pittsburg Boat Launch located on the upper Nehalem River north of Vernonia. “A contractor excavated accumulated silt and added gravel on the ramp down to the launch, making the ramp much more accessible for boaters who fish for cutthroat trout and winter steelhead,” said Robert Bradley, district fish biologist. Continue Reading →

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Bucket biology and its impact on Oregon’s fisheries (Part 2)

Bucket Biology

At Howard Prairie reservoir in Southern Oregon, there once was a robust rainbow trout fishery.

“They grew really well and the trout fishery absolutely thrived,” said District Fish Biologist Dan Van Dyke, about the 350,000 rainbow trout released into the reservoir each spring.

Then, about 2005, fishing in the reservoir, located just 18 miles east of Ashland, crashed.

The culprit was the illegal introduction of a surprisingly large list of invader fish: golden shiners, brown bullhead, black crappie, and both largemouth and smallmouth bass.

It’s a story that’s been repeated throughout Oregon for decades, when carefully managed fisheries of native or stocked fish are greatly damaged because of illegal introductions.

In these cases, individuals dump leftover live bait, possibly not realizing the harm. Others purposely add a different breed of fish in an attempt to alter the fishing grounds. Some also abandon fish and other sea life from a home aquarium or school project.

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Coos Umpqua Propagational Renewal

Eel Lake - umpqua propagational renewalEvery year on a Saturday in June, more than 250 children in the Reedsport area get to experience the thrill of fishing for themselves.

At the Eel Tenmile STEP Association’s fishing clinic, the kids also learn knot tying, fish identification, water safety, and how to cast with spinning rods and fly rods. The reward at the end is fishing for their own rainbow trout from a net pen attached to the dock at Eel Lake.

The objective is to teach kids practical skills and the lesson that fishing can be a fun hobby, one they can do throughout their lives. Continue Reading →

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Southwest Oregon Access Projects

Howard Prairie reservoir - southwest oregonThe Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, and other organizations throughout the state, continue to improve boating and angling in Oregon lakes, rivers and streams. Here are a few highlights of improvements in the Southwest part of the state in recent months:

South Coast Fish District

Garrison Lake – Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife has designated this lake as a trophy rainbow trout fishery, said District Fish Biologist Todd Confer. In Spring 2016, staff stocked the lake with 1,000 trout that were 2 pounds or larger in size, about six times larger than the typical fish stocked in that area. They will add another 1,300 trophy trout next spring.

Sixes River – In August, nonprofit Curry Citizens for Public Land Access improved the ODFW Mid-Drift Angling Access on the Sixes River. They cleared brush, and graded both the parking area and the access area onto the gravel bar. This will improve access for launching and landing drift boats during the fall Chinook salmon and winter steelhead fishing seasons. Continue Reading →

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Coastal Fall Chinook

Oregon Fall ChinookSalmon fishing is an Oregon tradition. And when the coastal fall Chinook season opens each year, anglers are ready to catch this large fish, a Pacific Northwest delicacy.

What they may not realize is what has happened behind the scenes, year-round, to make the fishing season a success.

Salmon and Trout Enhancement Program volunteers work continuously to spawn, raise and release fish. Meanwhile, Restoration and Enhancement program funds support their efforts by supplying fish food, improving their facilities and funding projects to improve fishing.

Together, these programs help provide a great catch for Oregon anglers. Continue Reading →

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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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