- Habitat reconnection and restoration statewide: Over the last decade, Trout Unlimited’s Water and Habitat program has reconnected or reconstructed 26.4 stream miles of stream, restored or reconnected 100 acres of floodplain and riparian zones, and reconnected 9.88 cfs of flow in important anadromous fish habitat in the Upper Salmon drainage.
- Supplying water in the Snake River Basin: TU’s Water and Habitat program supported the Lewiston Orchards Project that provides irrigation water to approximately 22,000 patrons and includes four diversion structures, three small storage reservoirs, and a water distribution system. Many of its facilities are located on, and adjacent to, the Nez Perce Reservation. Snake River Basin steelhead, an Endangered Species Act listed species, are found here. The project’s operations directly impact these fish as well as other tribal resources.
RECENT NEWS FROM Idaho
We’re proud of the wins we’ve been a part of in Oregon and will continue to advocate for the protection of wild steelhead in the Beaver State. See the below list of past wins and check the blog for previous updates on our priority campaigns.
- Western Oregon Riparian Buffers- In 2017, TU staff and volunteers worked with coalition partners to insist Oregon’s Board of Forestry direct the Department of Forestry to increase riparian buffers under Oregon’s forestry practices act from 20’ buffers to 80’ buffers. This effected approximately 10,000 river miles in western Oregon.
- Elliott State Forest- Wild Steelheaders helped to prevent the sale and transfer of 84,000 acres of public lands, known as the Elliot State Forest to private timber companies. “The Elliott” as it’s affectionately known by many, is home to some of the most productive Oregon Coast Coho habitat in the state with four distinct populations, 263 miles of fish bearing streams, including wild steelhead streams and provides creational opportunities for hunters, anglers, hikers, and birders alike.
- Kalmiopsis Mineral Withdrawal- In 2016, Wild Steelheaders United and many of our conservation partners obtained a mineral withdrawal for more than 100,000 acres in Southwest Oregon, preventing development of mining claims that could have a detrimental impact on some of the most productive and intact salmon and steelhead habitat on the Pacific Coast.
- NF Smith River ORWD- WSU staff sat on the committee that designated the first ever Outstanding Resource Water Designation (ORWD) in Oregon on the North Fork Smith River. ORW designation recognized the outstandingly remarkable water quality of North Fork Smith and prioritizes future management decisions to ensure that water quality remains protected in the future.
- Nehalem State Scenic Waterway Designation
- Monitoring efforts including redd surveys, snorkel surveys, sonar, Fish-Tic- As a core component of our steelhead conservation efforts, Wild Steelheaders United has aggressively pursued increased monitoring and evaluation of steelhead strongholds in Oregon, Washington, California, and Idaho. Trout Unlimited grassroots members have filled numerous redd counting opportunities on the Clackamas, Molalla, North Sanitam, Siletz, and other systems that agency staff would not otherwise have had the resources to monitor. WSU is also on the cutting edge of fisheries monitoring with implementation of Didson SONAR monitoring facilities in select locations.
- Frank and Jeanne Moore Wild Steelhead Special Management Area- Wild Steelheaders was a primary driver in the protection of Steamboat Creek, a major summer steelhead spawning tributary of the North Umpqua River. The designation pays homage to two of the North Umpqua’s most legendary stewards- Frank and Jeanne Moore.
- Elk River protections- One of Oregon’s fastest-clearing rivers, the Elk River watershed is largely protected from logging, mining, and development thanks to wilderness designations on the north side of the basin and newly enacted Wild and Scenic protections on many of the river’s tributaries. Before the creation of Wild Steelheaders, Trout Unlimited was an integral part of designating the Copper Salmon Wilderness Area in 2009, as well as - with the steelheaders - the 2019 designation of many Elk River tributaries under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.
- Chetco protections- One of the most popular steelhead and salmon fisheries in Southwest Oregon and a popular destination for many Northern California anglers, the Chetco was recently protected from mineral exploration and mining as part of the 2019 John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act (S. 47).
- Western Water and Habitat Project stream projects for improved habitat
RECENT NEWS FROM OREGON
- Carmel River: San Clemente Dam Removal and River Re-route Project—Wild Steelheaders United and Trout Unlimited helped gain permits, approvals, and funding for the largest dam removal project in California’s history (so far). This project restored fish passage to more than 25 miles of mainstem and spawning tributaries in this once-productive wild steelhead river. A mere three years after the project’s completion, the winter steelhead run here increased significantly.
- Carmel River: Rancho Canada land acquisition and conversion to regional park—Water rights experts from Wild Steelheaders United and Trout Unlimited played a key role in negotiating the terms of and obtaining funding for this landmark transaction, which converted an old 36-hole golf course to regional park land and keeps 300 acre-feet of water per year in the lower Carmel River to improve wild steelhead habitat and migration conditions in a reach that sometimes dries back.
- Klamath River restoration—in 2016, Trout Unlimited joined the States of California and Oregon, tribes, federal agencies and other stakeholders in signing the amended Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement, which paves the way for removing four antiquated dams on this legendary steelhead fishery, resolving decades of stubborn water quality problems and re-opening more than 400 miles of good spawning and rearing habitat for salmon and steelhead. In 2018, the Klamath River Renewal Corporation submitted to the Federal Regulatory Energy Commission its Definitive Plan for taking over the license for these dams from the utility PacifiCorp and then removing them, while the State of Oregon issued its certification under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act that the removal of JC Boyle Dam would not impair water quality upstream of the California-Oregon border.
- Protecting steelhead habitat and water quality on public lands in northwest California—Eel and Trinity Rivers. TU and Wild Steelheaders United are the lead sportsmen’s groups working to permanently protect key steelhead habitats in the Eel and Trinity Rivers—two of the most famous steelhead streams in the West. These rivers flow largely through public lands. In 2018, Congressman Jared Huffman and Senator Kamala Harris introduced legislation to accomplish this goal, through a package of new land and water designations, forest and watershed restoration measures, development of new and enhanced recreational infrastructure, and restoration of illegal cannabis cultivation sites.
- TU’s California Water Project completes fish passage and habitat restoration projects that benefit steelhead. In recent years TU and Wild Steelheaders United have led multiple restoration projects in coastal steelhead waters, including agricultural water supply solutions in the steelhead factories of Pescadero and San Gregorio Creeks; Mill and Yellowjacket Creeks (important spawning and rearing tributaries to the Russian River); and Pennington Creek, a steelhead stream that connects to Morro Bay near San Luis Obispo.
- San Geronimo Creek/Lagunitas Creek restoration. In 2019 TU and Wild Steelheaders United partnered with the Trust for Public Land to acquire and begin restoration of a former golf course on San Geronimo Creek, an important tributary to Lagunitas Creek, which harbors the last best run of wild coho salmon in California and also supports steelhead. TU volunteers have played a lead role in restoration efforts on Lagunitas Creek for many years, and TU’s North Coast Coho Project will lead the San Geronimo Creek restoration work.
RECENT NEWS FROM CALIFORNIA
- Improved sport fishing regulations and cessation of wild steelhead harvest by sport anglers on Olympic Peninsula- Ensuring enough fish escape fisheries to take advantage of investments in habitat restoration is critical to recovering wild steelhead. Until two years ago anglers were allowed to kill wild steelhead in the revered streams of the Olympic Peninsula. We challenged the agencies' position on wild steelhead retention, used shuttle diplomacy to work with guides and citizens, and unleashed social media to educate anglers. We flooded the rule‐making process with 50 times the number of comments the agency had ever received, 93% of which were in favor of eliminating kill of wild steelhead and banning the use of bait and barbed hooks to reduce angler impacts on the fish.
- Seafood Watch Down‐Grading of Hoh- In 2017 Seafood Watch, an influential organization advising consumers on sustainable seafood choices, named Hoh River wild steelhead as a “good choice." Trout Unlimited and Wild Salmon Center demonstrated that the population had declined by 36% since 1980 – and was unable to withstand a high level of harvest. After a year‐long battle, Seafood Watch changed the designation to a “poor choice.”
- Reopening of catch and release spring steelhead season on Skagit and Sauk Rivers- Anglers need more opportunity to fish for wild steelhead in Puget Sound. Historically, the Skagit River spring catch and release fishery provided that opportunity, but it closed in 2009 due to declining wild steelhead populations. Over the past two years Trout Unlimited spent countless hours meeting with agency and tribal staff, local politicians, business owners, anglers, and citizens affected by the fishery closure. As a result of those efforts, and owing to the recent rebound in population size, we were successful in getting the Skagit River reopened for catch and release of wild winter steelhead. Work to hone the regulations during the catch and release season is ongoing.
RECENT NEWS FROM WASHINGTON
- Documenting Wild Steelhead streams: Most steelhead streams in Southeast lack the documentation needed for protection under state law afforded to waters in the Anadromous Waters Catalogue. TU is completing on-going work to document these treasured streams so they can receive the protection they deserve. https://www.tu.org/tongass/
- Protections for the Tongass 77 included in the 2016 forest plan. The U.S. Forest Service finalized an amendment to its Tongass Land and Resource Management plan that includes important measures for better conserving more than 70 salmon and trout streams within Southeast Alaska’s 17 million acre Tongass National Forest. The measures are the culmination of a multi-year community supported process, and are detailed in the final record of decision for the Tongass Forest Plan Amendment. More here.
RECENT NEWS FROM ALASKA
We steelheaders share a common vision of the future of wild steelhead and know what has to be done to bring them back. Together, we can make that vision a reality. With millions of dollars, countless staff and volunteer hours invested in restoring wild steelhead habitat, Trout Unlimited has launched the Wild Steelhead Initiative to make sure those investments (along with the efforts of countless other organizations) pay dividends. For more information please visit tu.org.