Conservation Corner – Together We Can Help the North Umpqua River

north umpqua

A Collaborative Effort for a Monumental Task

Editor’s Note and Correction: Shortly after this piece was posted, your Flyline editor received clarification from Native Fish Society’s Southern Oregon Regional Coordinator, Kirk Blaine, that this proposed project seeks to eliminate summer steelhead hatchery supplementation. The previous version of this post suggested Spring Chinook and Coho were also targeted. He also clarified that the North Umpqua Coho are wild. I regret the error. lkh

“Synergy – the bonus that is achieved when things work together harmoniously.” Mark Twain

This year your Fly Fisher Foundation has selected a talented group of organizations with a unique proposal. Rebuild Wild Abundance on the North Umpqua – A Collaborative Proposal for the Fly Fisher Foundation 2021 Conservation Grant Award brings six dedicated organizations together to create a new vision of fish management on a river we all love. The group has deep roots in wild fish advocacy and the spectacular North Umpqua River. Native Fish Society, Pacific Rivers, The Conservation Angler, The North Umpqua Foundation, and The Steamboaters realized that the devastation from the 2020 Archie Creek Fire in the North Umpqua corridor required action and created “an unprecedented opportunity to reset and refocus on wild fish conservation, restoration, and recovery in the basin.”1 These groups strongly support the health and recovery of the river and its iconic anadromous fish populations. They bring their expertise together to advocate for policies for wild fish recovery and environmentally sensitive fire response projects that seek to avoid more harm to the scarred riparian landscape.

 

burn n umpqua

Burned trail along the North Umpqua River; photo by Dave McCoy

Time to Rebuild Wild

A central tenant of the proposal focuses on the opportunity to allow the North Umpqua to become an entirely wild steelhead fishery. The Rock Creek Hatchery and surrounding watershed sustained major damage from the fire. Historically, this hatchery has been fraught with challenges due to water quality, water quantity, and disease outbreaks. The Archie Creek fire ravaged sections of Rock Creek itself and rebuilding a hatchery with a poor track record in a severely burned tributary does not make financial or ecologic sense. The Rebuild Wild Abundance proposal will work toward rebuilding wild steelhead populations by advocating to prevent rebuilding of a hatchery, eliminating hatchery steelhead supplementation on the river, and “reprogramming funding that will support sustainable wild fish management priorities throughout the watershed.”1 The entirely wild winter steelhead run thrives on the North Umpqua. The destruction of the Rock Creek Hatchery provides an opportunity to shift focus and resources to support recovery of wild North Umpqua summer steelhead.

An Opportunity for Synergy

The Rebuild Wild Abundance Collaborative will bring their experts in fisheries and ecosystem science, policy, economics, media, and advocacy to work with agencies, lawmakers and local citizens “to create a shared vision for the North Umpqua as a place dedicated to the conservation and recovery of wild, native fish.”1 Their existing ties with the community will be critical for generating grassroots advocacy and community support to realize a management plan that prioritizes wild steelhead and salmon. Please join us for our May 2021 online auction, donate to our Keith Hansen Memorial Paddle Raise, and help make this collaborative conservation project successful!

Lisa Hansen

1From Rebuild Wild Abundance on the North Umpqua – A Collaborative Proposal for the Fly Fisher Foundation 2021 Conservation Grant Award submitted by Native Fish Society, Pacific Rivers, The Conservation Angler, The North Umpqua Foundation, and The Steamboaters. 2021.