Sportsmen have a long history of taking it upon themselves to conserve and protect fish and game species. Their conservation programs have greatly contributed to available habitat and enhanced protections of the same.
In addition to the critical habitat work that is being done, many people are taking it upon themselves to contribute to scientific research under the guidance of organizations such as TU and state and federal agencies. Fieldwork provided by volunteers can fill important gaps in current research and knowledge.
TU volunteers have been growing their angler science programs in steelhead country, creating numerous opportunities to get involved. Some of these opportunities are small efforts such as spawning surveys, temperature monitoring, and collection of samples from angler caught fish for DNA and life history studies. Others are bigger like assisting Washington State with implementing sonar to generate better population estimates for steelhead in the Hoh River.
There are several chapters who have begun these programs and currently have volunteer opportunities.
The Bluebacks in Corvallis, Oregon will be doing spawning surveys for summer steelhead on the South Fork of the Siletz. Last year, the chapter conducted snorkel surveys to enumerate summer steelhead and now plan grow the program. They are also picking up additional projects within the Siletz basin.
The Redsides Chapter out of Eugene, Oregon, in conjunction with the Coastal Cutthroat Chapter out of Coos Bay, are beginning their West Fork Smith River spawning surveys with ODFW this month. This summer volunteers will begin PIT tagging juvenile steelhead on the Smith River with the help of BLM, USFS, ODFW and the Smith River Watershed Council. Last, the Coastal Cutthroat Chapter will begin monitoring on the Coquille River to get a baseline before restoration work in collaboration with ODFW.
Washington’s Kitsap/Olympic Peninsula chapter will begin spawning surveys on the Hoh river this winter and assist with the operation of the new sonar unit. They will also be operating a fish trap on Grovers Creek in search of winter steelhead and collecting eDNA water samples to see once and for all if steelhead are using that basin.
The Skykomish Valley chapter is in the process of initiating a spawning survey program within the Skagit basin. With the 12-year moratorium on hatchery production, the Skagit is a high priority for our angler science program. Nowhere else in the Northwest do we have the opportunity to study the removal of hatchery fish in a large river basin with a relatively large wild steelhead run and excellent habitat.
Additional projects will be occurring in the coming months and years as we build our program.
For more information and how to volunteer contact:
Washington Steelhead Organizer, Nick Chambers firstname.lastname@example.org