Blog

March 31, 2020

A Unified Voice Facing COVID-19

As you are all aware, our communities, nation and the world face a public health emergency due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) closed recreational fishing statewide for two weeks to promote additional social distancing. Following WDFW’s announcement, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) closed salmon and steelhead fishing on the Columbia River because the two states jointly manage fisheries on the Columbia and seek to have concurrent regulations. This period may be extended if the risk of exposure to COVID-19 is still high. It is important that we rise to the challenge and support one another as a community during this time of uncertainty. Please do your part by following social distancing and stay at home/stay safe mandates from public officials. Please also support health care workers and first responders and their families who are on the front line of this battle by donating money, masks, gloves or other requested personal protective equipment.
March 20, 2020

Request for Call-in Comments on the Snake-Columbia River Salmon & Steelhead DEIS

The Feb. 2020 Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for Snake-Columbia River Salmon and Steelhead was produced by federal agencies under a 2016 court order and analyzes several options for the future management of federal dams in the Columbia Basin, including one option that would remove the four dams on the Lower Snake River. Unfortunately, despite the DEIS' recognition that restoring the lower Snake River would deliver the greatest survival benefits to Snake River fish compared to any of the other options, it instead recommends a Preferred Alternative with only minor modifications to a longstanding approach that has proven to be illegal, costly, and ineffective for over 25 years. You can contribute by contacting legislators!
March 16, 2020

COVID-19 Event Cancellations, Office Closure

As COVID-19 has emerged as a threat to public health, the Association of Northwest Steelheaders is taking steps to protect members, volunteers, staff and our communities. Following recommendations from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the Oregon Health Authority, we have decided to cancel all chapter meetings, fish-alongs, clinics, pint nights, and other events through April 5th. We may extend these cancellations as we monitor new developments, and will notify you if we decide to do so. Through April 3rd, Northwest Steelheaders headquarters in Milwaukie, OR will be closed to volunteers and the public. Our staff will continue to work on issues facing our fisheries and anglers from home. Please continue to call or email us with any questions during this time.
February 21, 2020

Chris Hager Appointed to Oregon Conservation and Recreation Advisory Committee

Executive Director of Northwest Steelheaders, Chris Hager, is one of nine Oregonians named by Governor Kate Brown to chair the Oregon Conservation and Recreation Advisory Committee. The committee is charged with reviewing Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) policies regarding allocations of the Oregon Conservation & Recreation Fund and making recommendations to the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission.
February 18, 2020

2020 Columbia River Salmon Agreement Abandons Protection Principles

Last Friday afternoon the Oregon and Washington departments of Fish and Wildlife announced an agreement on allocation and gear types for Columbia River salmon fisheries in 2020. Notwithstanding poor run-size forecasts for ESA-listed salmon and steelhead populations, which will severely restrict seasons, the agreement calls for increasing commercial gill net harvests at the expense of public recreational fishing opportunity, and will potentially allow commercial netting on the mainstem during the spring season for the first time since 2016. Northwest Steelheaders is extremely disappointed in this agreement, which continues a disturbing trend to undermine the fundamental principles and commitments embodied in the 2012 Columbia River Reform package.
February 3, 2020

Northwest Steelheaders Submits Testimony on Columbia River Management Reform

On February 1, Northwest Steelheaders submitted testimony to the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission concerning setbacks in lower mainstem Columbia River fisheries management reform policies. The testimony is a direct response to the March 2, 2019, decision by the commission to abandon two crucial principles that Northwest Steelheaders fought for in the reform policies: (1) Improve the selectivity and conservation value of lower mainstem non-treaty commercial salmon fisheries through the replacement of gillnet fisheries with alternative mark-selective, live-release fisheries, and (2) Optimize the economic and social benefits to our region through the prioritization of recreational fisheries on the mainstem.
January 15, 2020

Tim Lenihan Proposes Bill for Group Hunting and Fishing Licenses

Tim Lenihan, a combat veteran and dedicated Northwest Steelheaders member, testified in front of the Senate Veterans Committee on November 20, 2019, to propose a draft bill (LC 55) that would benefit Oregon hunters and anglers by reducing the financial burden of licensing on disadvantaged groups. Similar to a program already implemented in Washington, the draft bill calls for a program wherein the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife would issue group hunting, angling, and shellfish licenses to qualifying non-profit programs. Group licenses would be granted to organizations providing support to veterans, active service members, underprivileged and at-risk youth, and those that are hospitalized or have disabilities, among others. Currently, participants are required to purchase licenses for hunting and fishing programs themselves.
December 23, 2019

A letter from Executive Director Chris Hager

This morning, as I pulled on my waders to fish for a couple of hours before heading into the office, I was shocked by the realization that December is nearly over. Reports of winter steelhead hooked on the Clackamas have been few and far between. It seems returns are occurring later than ever. I can’t help but recall stories told of frosty early mornings on the bank where fish were caught before Thanksgiving dinner. I take stock, remind myself that “it only takes one bite,” and push on. As anglers, we push on, driven by a passion that lures us to the next hole or riffle, regardless of run counts or projections. If there are fish in the river, we fish. No matter what. Rain or shine we’re there, one cast at a time. It's that same passion that drives me to preserve these special places, to ensure that the next generation has a place to fish and fish to catch.
December 12, 2019

A letter from President Tom VanderPlaat

In many ways, 2019 was a year of transition for the Northwest Steelheaders. We hired a new Executive Director, Chris Hager, a new Operations Manager, Alix Soliman, and we brought aboard a new Ameri-Corps Education and Outreach Coordinator, Allena Vestal. I and our board of directors are extremely excited to have each of them on our staff. Individually, each brings energy, enthusiasm, and experience to our organization. Collectively, they represent the “Next Generation” of Steelheaders that is vital to our organization’s growth, effectiveness, and continued tenacity. While we propel forward, it is important to recognize an enduring aspect of Northwest Steelheaders: the commitment of our people. As an organization, we’ve been working for “a place to fish, and fish to catch” for almost 60 years.