A Unified Voice in the Face of Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Dear Angling Community,

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.

If you can, please consider supporting our angling community as well. The economic fallout from this pandemic will be severe. We urge you to rally around our local angling community to support guides, tackle shops, bait companies, boat dealers, etc. and their employees whose livelihoods will be impacted. If you’re able, think about booking guided trips in advance or stocking up on tackle, bait or marine equipment by ordering online.

If you do plan on fishing, please strictly adhere to social distancing and stay at home/stay safe directives: stay local and minimize travel, don’t go if you’re sick, fish only with members of your household, avoid groups and don’t crowd the banks, and stay 6 feet away from anyone not in your household at all times. Both the ODFW and WDFW websites will have the most current and correct information. Do not rely on social media to obtain this information. When fishing opens up again – and it will – we aim to hit the ground running and boost the web of industries that rely on recreational fishing: guides, hotels, motels, restaurants, diners, tackle shops, boat dealers, and the like.

We are all in this together.

This is a public message from:
Association of Northwest Steelheaders
Coastal Conservation Association Washington
Coastal Conservation Association Oregon

Lower Snake River DEIS Public Comment Request

Army Corps Proposed Plan ‘Wholly Inadequate’ to Save Snake River Salmon

Jacqueline Koch, National Wildlife Federation

With 2019 salmon returns dropping to historic lows, the National Wildlife Federation joins conservation organizations, Tribes and fishing groups demanding that federal agencies dramatically expand proposed plans to save Snake River salmon from extinction. The Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) is important to evaluating the impacts of the lower Snake River dams, but the National Wildlife Federation said its recommendations are inadequate to not only recover wild salmon, but also to revitalize communities, deliver clean and affordable power, support farmers and promote sustainable growth. 

“At this critical point, when what were the world’s most abundant salmon runs are nearing extinction, what we need are new solutions, not a repackaging of previous strategies that clearly haven’t, and won’t, deliver the recovery of salmon,” said Tom France, the National Wildlife Federation’s regional director for the Pacific Northwest. “What the DEIS proposes simply does not align with what Northwest communities need, which is a healthy, intact river ecosystem that works for people, fish and wildlife alike.

“The DEIS scope is limited and the process is therefore wholly inadequate to restore abundant, harvestable salmon and steelhead populations in the Columbia and Snake Rivers. We need broader conversations throughout the region and in Congress to develop and deliver real solutions for farmers, fisherman, ratepayers and residents alike."

The DEIS was written by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the federal agency that is responsible for managing the four lower Snake River dams. Since the final construction of the dams in the 1970s, 13 species of salmon and steelhead have been listed threatened according to the Endangered Species Act. Despite decades of habitat recovery attempts at the cost of more than $17 billion, 2019 salmon returns remained perilously low, forcing emergency fishing closures — and economic devastation — in Washington and Idaho fishing communities. 

The DEIS was prepared after a court rejected a 2016 plan for salmon recovery — the fifth to be invalidated by three judges in over two decades. 

“This DEIS falls far short of the win-win solutions we need now, as Snake River salmon and steelhead populations are plummeting and fishing communities are hurting,” said Chris Hager, executive director for the Association of Northwest Steelheaders. “We need comprehensive solutions to recover endangered fish runs and the recreational and commercial fishing opportunities and the economic drivers associated with both. With collaboration across communities, strong leadership and smart investments, restoring abundant, harvestable salmon populations is within our reach." Learn more...

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

Alix Soliman, Operations Manager

Northwest Steelheaders is dedicated to removing the Lower Granite, Little Goose, Lower Monumental, and Ice Harbor dams on the lower Snake River, which have been decimating salmon populations since their installation in the 1970s. Removing the dams is essential to protecting and rebuilding the endangered salmon and steelhead populations on the Columbia River's largest tributary. While the dams have proven to be both economically inefficient and a meager power source, removing them will help restore the benefits these native fish deliver to people and ecosystems across the Northwest, including feeding starving orcas, returning beloved public resources to the public, and bolstering an angling-oriented economy in the region.

“In 1995, in response to the ESA listing of Snake River salmon stocks, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) asked the Army Corps of Engineers to study the possibility of removing the lower Snake River dams. In the Army Corps report completed after four years of studying the problem, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service concluded that dam removal would best provide the highest certainty of saving the fish. Scientists from other agencies, including NMFS, also recommended dam removal. Oregon’s Governor John Kitzhaber astounded the region’s political establishment by calling for breaching the four Snake River dams. But by December 2000, when the NMFS issued its final plan, the focus had changed to delaying a decision on dam removal for at least eight years and instead relying on pilot projects, voluntary habitat improvements done by state, tribal, and private groups, and transporting fish around dams in trucks and barges” (Montgomery 2003, 201).

This excerpt from 2003 sounds like deja vu. It has been 25 years since it was deemed necessary to remove the four lower Snake River dams, and yet, they still stand. 

How is it that dam removal is, to this day, considered a politically radical measure to salmon recovery on the Snake River? We’ve had scientific consensus for decades. As we well know, political posturing and industry lobbying leads to diluted policies that ignore biological truths while touting vague, hopeful outcomes. Salmon and steelhead on the Snake River cannot withstand another 25 years of feeble policy. It is time to stand together and breach the dams.

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 alternatives that will eventually lead to the extinction of Snake River salmon and steelhead. This DEIS is only a minor modification to ineffective and costly plans that have failed for decades. The Northwest needs smarter solutions based on the best available scientific information, not industry preferences. Learn more...

Want to help remove the dams?

We need dedicated supporters of salmon and steelhead conservation to voice their concerns on the salmon crisis in the Columbia River basin and urge policymakers to make the right choice. We have until April 13 to submit comments on the DEIS. Please take a moment—really, it only takes a moment—to include your comments and encourage your networks to do the same. Send the following to office@anws.org:

  • A quote - no more than three sentences. This page offers some guidance for messaging.
  • A photo of yourself - need decent resolution (i.e. fuzzy cell phone pics won’t cut it)
  • A very short bio - who you are, where you fish, etc.

Stay updated on this issue by signing up for Our Northwest Opportunity newsletter.

Family Fish Camp Canceled

We decided to cancel Family Fish Camp this March in order to protect the health and safety of our volunteers, partners, and participating community members. The 28 families that were registered to attend are invited to attend next year and scholarships will be honored for the 17 families that were selected as recipients. You can learn more about family fish camp and stay tuned for the 2021 registration date on our website. 



ATTENTION GUIDES: List your services on Seek Wild!

Seek Wild is a FREE web-based software developed for guides and outfitters by a dedicated group of hunters and fishermen who saw an opportunity to share their passion and love for the outdoors by connecting a network of guides and outfitters to those in the hunting and fishing community who seek access to new lands, banks, and boat launches. The Seek Wild platform makes it easier for guides to focus on the outdoor experience and spend less time worrying about office work. As you start running your business through the platform, you will build ratings and become more attractive to new clients.

To find out more or list your services, visit their website!

We are still accepting submissions for our #TimeToDIY competition!

You're stuck at home. You're bored. You're dreaming of the next time you can get out on the water. Well, it's #TimeToDIY! Do you tie flies, jigs or yarnies? Do you make your own spinners, paint your own eggs, pour and paint your own jigs? Whatever you do, we want to see it! No limits to what you can submit, just as long as it's used to fish and you made it yourself. The winner will receive a FREE Northwest Steelheaders hat, free membership for 1 year, and the winning recipe will be shared on social media and in next month's newsletter.

To enter, email your photos or video to office@anws.org with a detailed recipe: how you made it, materials used, and what it is best used for. We are now accepting submissions until April 27. May the best DIY win!

Coming Up

All upcoming events and chapter meetings have been cancelled or postponed in an effort to maintain public safety and follow government protocol during the COVID-19 pandemic. To help us offset the cost of these event cancellations, please consider donating to our cause. 

Get Involved

Become a Volunteer! As a volunteer-driven organization, we thrive when you take action on issues you care about. Learn more...


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Association of Northwest Steelheaders
6641 SE Lake Rd. Milwaukie, OR 97222
(503) 653-4176

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