It is sometimes amazing how one small act of giving can multiply into many.
Last year, I was looking for donations to encourage people to get involved with Trout Unlimited’s fledgling Wild Steelhead Initiative. The donation would be the prize – incentive – for TU chapters to get involved in the fight for wild steelhead. The first person I called was an old friend of mine, Kate Taylor.
Kate, a guide on the Oregon Coast and Bristol Bay, answered her phone in an airport.
“Sure. I’ll donate a guided steelhead trip. Just send me the details.”
And then she was off, on her way to somewhere — Baja, Louisiana, Christmas Island, Southwest Alaska, who knows. It was a split second question, and a split second answer. But in the following months that random phone call produced so much for wild fish.
TU’s Kitsap/Olympic Peninsula (KOP) Chapter won that trip with Kate. And from there, they leveraged it, raffling it off to raise nearly $800 for the chapters Angler Science program on the Olympic Peninsula. That raffle was also supported by donations from Sage and Redington, other heavy hitters in the “give back” world.
What can $800 do for wild steelhead conservation? A lot.
Our volunteers were able to purchase several stream temperature loggers, gas cards and low-cost waders from Redington. Temperature loggers are simply a thermometer with a memory. Once placed in a stream they produce a down-to-the-minute record of stream temperatures throughout the warm summer months or even longer.
Chapter volunteers are now coordinating with the state to increase Washing Department of Fish and Wildlife’s stream temperature monitoring network and to help with data collection and maintenance of that network this summer. Temperature data is becoming increasingly important and it is used by resource managers to track trends in stream temperatures, better understand local stream habitat conditions and to identify areas for conservation and restoration activities.
Members of the Kitsap/ Olympic Peninsula chapter also built and installed an outmigration monitoring trap on Grovers Creek this past January. Their goal is to capture out-migrating steelhead juveniles which were once abundant in Grovers and most Kitsap streams. Today they are listed as a threatened species and absent from much of their previous range.
It has been many years since steelhead have been documented in Grovers Creek and it is uncertain if they are still present. The trap that was designed and constructed by TU members has captured both steelhead steelhead smolts and one adult out-migrating hatchery steelhead. Additional native species including juvenile coho salmon, coastal cutthroat trout and threespine stickleback have all been captured as well.
Paul Dorn, Senior Research Scientist for the Suquamish tribe, has been working closely with the chapter and says that the trap is an “outstanding success” and that the efforts of the TU volunteers has been “exemplary beyond words.”
And if the list of good deeds isn’t long enough, steelhead redd surveys are being conducted by volunteers across Oregon and Washington. The KOP Chapter expanded surveys into the Hoh River watershed this winter. While most survey events were cancelled to due record-setting rainfall and high water volunteers were able to see a pair of wild steelhead actively digging a redd.
All this started with one act of giving.
So thanks to the Kitsap/Olympic Peninsula Chapter, thanks Kate and all local businesses, like Sage and Redington who give back to the resource.