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Mark Stangeland - NUFlyGuide
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Sandy River Struggles

Posted by Mark Thursday, April 7, 2011

 A recent Oregonian article on the struggles the Sandy river and it's wild fish face:

By Ken Anderson, Jad Donaldson, Jeff Hickman, Tom Larimer, Mia Pringle, Marty Sheppard, Marcy Stone and Cullen Wisenhunt

As fishing guides who have made our living on the Sandy River for a combined 53 years, we know that wild salmon and steelhead -- not hatchery fish -- are the backbone of our industry. The state of Oregon tells us these wild fish are protected by law, and we've built the foundations of our businesses around them. For decades we have been able to count on these fish because they are incredibly resilient, but the continued presence of an excessive hatchery program on the Sandy River jeopardizes wild fish, our businesses, our families' welfare and the long-term sustainability of our fishery.

Oregon communities and businesses no longer take Sandy River salmon and steelhead for granted. Instead, companies like PG&E, along with the city of Portland and a coalition of environmental groups have supported the recovery of wild fish by investing $100 million dollars to remove both Sandy River dams and restore its habitat. But with numbers of wild fish lower today than ever before, shouldn't the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife join this effort and provide these threatened fish with the best chance of recovery?

When the Sandy hatchery opened more than 50 years ago, its goal was to keep fish in the river and the fishery going, despite the dams and habitat loss that wreaked havoc on wild salmon and steelhead. In that era, the firm belief was that by raising fish in a tank we could keep wild runs going. But today, 40 years of science indicates just the opposite -- fish raised in artificial conditions do not survive like their wild counterparts, and when they do survive, they reduce the number of wild fish at all life stages.

 The hatchery program on the Sandy is a confusing and dangerous relic of thankfully departed times, and we have 40 years of data carefully documenting the decline of wild fish on the river. From a historic run numbering 20,000 wild winter steelhead, we currently have a pitiful 670 fish. These wild Sandy steelhead, as well as the four remaining species of salmon, have been listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act for more than 10 years. On the river, the hatchery program detracts more from our guiding business than it provides. Our customers return with us to fish the Sandy for the excellent experience we give them: hooking and releasing powerful wild fish.

If ODFW does not give these wild fish the same chance to recover, as our larger community has already initiated, Oregonians are headed for the kind of widespread fishery closures that would devastate the businesses that sustain our Northwest communities and families. To save our industry, our fishery and these wild fish, join with us to oppose the continued excessive hatchery programs on the Sandy River.

Ken Anderson, Jad Donaldson, Jeff Hickman, Tom Larimer, Mia Pringle, Marty Sheppard, Marcy Stone and Cullen Wisenhunt are Sandy River fishing guides.

Some excellent additional articles and info about the plight of the Sandy river  HERE 

The article on Scapoose Creek and it's health wild run is especially intriguing. Even though that area was extensively logged, wild fish are thriving. It has never had a hatchery program at all and the wild fish populations are far greater than the Sandy watershed which is huge by comparison.

Get involved and make your voice heard, lets all pitch in to keep the Sandy River it's wild fishery healthy and viable for our kids.


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