Columbia Basin salmon and steelhead need our help, more now than ever. These fish are slated for extinction and one of the clearest barriers in their path are the four lower Snake River Dams. Not only do we need bold action from our elected officials but we need angler voices like yours. The status quo isn’t working and we’re running out of time. I hope you join me in calling upon our elected officials for urgent action because the time for salmon and steelhead recovery is now.
Forward we go together,
Chris Hager, Executive Director
The Oregon State Marine Board was established in 1969 with 5 representatives to guide recreational boating access, enforcement, and stewardship across the state. As the types of river recreation have expanded over the past 60 years, it's become clear that we need a Marine Board that is more representative of these diverse uses. SB 895 would increase the number of board members to nine and designate seats for a fisheries biologist, recreational angler, Tribal fisher, boater, paddler, and member of the public to ensure decisions and policies are equitable across river user groups. A similar version of the bill was passed through the House 35-22 and is very likely to die in the Senate Energy and Environment Committee.
TAKE ACTION: Join us in calling on the Senate Rules Committee to schedule this important bill for a hearing and make sure it advances to the Senate floor before the session ends in just a few days. We have a draft email all ready to go, we just need you to fill in your information and add an optional personal message!
By Betsy Emery, Advocacy and Campaign Manager
Surplus hatchery fish are already used to reintroduce nutrients into their headwaters through the fish carcass program, but under House Bill 3191 the amount of fish allotted to the program may increase. While last year 57,000 hatchery fish were used for the program, Oregon legislature would require that ODFW place at least 50% of any returning hatchery fish back into their spawning grounds under HB 3191, not just a percentage of the fish remaining after broodstock goals have been met. On May 19th, the Senate Committee On Natural Resources and Wildfire Recovery voted to pass House Bill 3191 and it is currently waiting for disposition.
By Betsy Emery, Advocacy and Campaign Manager
This past month, there's been a lot of political momentum for urgent salmon recovery solutions. Reps. Simpson (R-ID) and Blumenauer (D-OR), Sen. Murray (D-WA), as well as Govs. Inslee (D-WA) and Brown (D-OR) all recognize the need for compromise and quick action. As so many salmon and steelhead runs enter into an extinction vortex that will only get worse as hotter, drier summers take their toll, our electeds need to clarify a specific and timely pathway for bold action and dam removal. Unfortunately, other than Rep. Simpson's push to use President Biden's American Jobs Act as a pathway for funding and action, many electeds do not feel that will work. Regardless, we need them all to start talking with one another to identify how best to protect salmon and ensure we have a future with abundant runs. Read our new blog posts to learn more about where Northwest electeds stand on this issue and what is at stake if they don't take action soon.
As the legislative session in Salem starts to wrap up, we are hard at work fighting to get the bills we like across the finish line. The bill to provide non-profits like ours with free one-day licenses for angling programs serving veterans is on it's way to the House floor for a vote after being unanimously supported in the Senate! Our advocacy to amend a bill allowing property owners to construct restoration weirs was successful: an amended version requiring these structures to be constructed with natural materials was signed into law. Many bills we are interested in are awaiting to be scheduled for a hearing in the House Ways and Means Committee considering their budgetary impacts, including a bill to decrease one-day angling fees, establish an independent Science Review Board, and reauthorize the Oregon Conservation and Recreation Fund.
For more information about what we are working on in Salem, visit our updated blog post.
By Kristina Peterson, Education Coordinator
It is lightly drizzling and I pull into the parking lot at Glenn Otto Park in Troutdale, Oregon on Saturday, April 24th, 2021. The inaugural Hooked on Family Fishing Day hosted by the Association of Northwest Steelheaders (ANWS) has finally arrived, something that I had been planning for over 4 months. Banners are hung, 50 rainbow trout are happily swimming in their portable pond, and our 12 volunteers are anxiously waiting at their activity stations.
To learn more about our successful Hooked on Family Fishing event, head over to our blog post.
Oregon Holds Steady; Washington Steps in the Wrong Direction
Senate Bill 59, a bill that would extend the Columbia River Endorsement fee, continues to move through the House in Oregon’s legislature. Early in the session, angling organizations rallied around SB59 calling for an amendment that would sunset the Endorsement if the ODFW’s Commission decided to follow Washington's suit in adding non-treaty commercial gillnets back on the Columbia River. The amendment was passed in the Senate and the bill (now SB59A) moved to the House where it has come up for its third hearing on the floor. Despite the Endorsement being unfavorable by some recreational anglers, if passed, SB59A will provide added accountability, direction, and transparency consistent with the original purpose of the Endorsement.
Support for SB59A comes in the wake of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Commission's decision to place non-treaty commercial gillnets back on the Columbia River in 2020. Since then, Oregon’s Commission has not followed suit and instead held strong to its original commitments to the Columbia River Fishery Reforms agreed upon by both states in 2017.
Across the river, Washington continues to step in the opposite direction of the bi-state Columbia River Fishery reforms. This past month, Governor Inslee vetoed a $2 million budget proviso for a voluntary buy-back of non-treaty Columbia River gillnet licenses. The money would have been used to reduce the commercial fleet, thereby reducing the number of gillnets on the mainstem of the Columbia River. If the budget had been passed, this would have been the biggest step towards re-alignment between both states since the WA Commissions' policy decision in 2020. It goes without saying that we are disappointed with the outcome knowing the budget proviso had broad support among legislators, angling organizations, and conservation groups.
Stay up to date on what's happening at the capitol.
Zoom Chapter Meetings
A few chapters have resumed Monthly Chapter Meetings via Zoom, and we hope to get everyone online as soon as possible! To get the Zoom link to access a meeting, please visit our Events Calendar. If you're having trouble setting up Zoom but would like to join a meeting, please reach out to us at email@example.com and we'll help you out. As always, Chapter Meetings are free and open to the public. If you're new to Northwest Steelheaders, attending a meeting is a great first step to getting more involved with your local fishing community.
- Mid-Valley Chapter - Wednesday, June 2 @ 7 pm
- Columbia River Chapter - Wednesday, June 9 @ 6:30 pm
- Tualatin Chapter - Thursday, June 10 @ 7 pm.
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