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.
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.
May 28, 2020

Tempering Heat Pollution in the Lower Snake River

Recently, there has been a lot of press about Oregon and Washington governors using their authority under the Clean Water Act to require dam operators to reduce the heat they are introducing into the Snake and Columbia Rivers. Heat pollution causes substantial stress and even death for endangered salmon and steelhead. This is an important development in the ongoing effort to protect salmon and steelhead in these rivers… but what does it mean to reduce “heat pollution” and how does that protect salmon, steelhead and our ability to fish? Heat is explicitly identified as a pollutant under the Clean Water Act, making entities that heat waterways responsible for mitigating the temperature changes they cause. As anglers, we know that temperature changes have huge impacts on fish. Here in Oregon, our water quality standards have set a water temperature threshold of 68 degrees Fahrenheit for salmon and steelhead streams—the warmest water salmon and steelhead can survive in.
June 24, 2020

Renewable Energy and Barging Industries Have Changed

The lower Snake River dams were built based on two predominant assumptions: (1) dams are the most viable form of producing renewable energy and (2) dams facilitate barge transport, which is the best way to ship goods to market. We must determine whether these assumptions are still true today in order to promote a dialogue about crafting solutions to replace the lower Snake River dams.
June 30, 2020

Migration Through the Eyes of a Salmon

When I turned one year old, my parr marks began to disappear, alerting me to the fact that my first great journey would soon begin. I knew it was time to go to the ocean. Under natural conditions, it would be an arduous journey: over 450 miles of river fraught with predators, rapids, strong currents, and changing salinity that culminates in a rapid biological adaptation to the ocean. Unfortunately, man-made obstacles such as agricultural runoff, heat pollution, stagnant water and dams further complicated my voyage.