Science and Advocacy:
On Washington’s Olympic Peninsula we and our partners worked for new regulations adopted by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife for the benefit wild steelhead. These included limits on bait fishing, an end to harvest of wild fish, and protection of six miles of the Hoh from excessive fishing pressure by boat.
In southwest Oregon we advanced the Frank Moore Wild Steelhead Sanctuary bill, which would protect the North Umpqua River’s most important steelhead-spawning tributary.
In Oregon and California, we generated strong angler support for protecting the headwaters of the fabled Smith River from proposed hard rock mining, and were a major factor in the California Fish and Game Commission’s designation of the South Fork Smith as a Wild and Heritage Trout Water.
Last, we played a major role in designating wild steelhead management zones for the Nisqually, Elwha, Grays and Chinook rivers in Washington. Our volunteers participated in “angler science” projects on the Olympic Peninsula, Skagit River, Siletz River and Smith River (OR) to generate more accurate steelhead data.
More than 5,500 anglers have now signed the Wild Steelheaders United credo, and the Wild Steelhead Initiative currently has over 18,000 total followers on social media platforms, with 10,000 weekly views of our Science Friday posts. More than 40 leading companies in the angling industry — including Sage/ Rio/ Redington and Echo — now support us. And our local angler-advocates have generated some 2,500 letters and comments in support of management decisions that will better protect and restore wild steelhead.
Habitat Improvement and Protection
We reached a major milestone in the long campaign to restore the Klamath River(historically, the third most productive watershed for salmon and steelhead on the West Coast) with signing of the revised Klamath Hydropower Settlement Agreement in April — this agreement provides for removal of four old dams below Klamath Lake starting in 2020.
In Washington we helped open 30 miles of steelhead habitat in Manastash Creek in the Yakima Basin, and introduced legislation to protect 340,000 acres of public lands from open pit mining in the Methow River headwaters. In Oregon we helped to protect more than 14,000 miles of rivers by expanding logging buffers on private land. We played a key role in a transaction on California’s Carmel River that will convert a 36-hole golf course to regional park land and return 98 million gallons of water to the lower river annually.
Our partnership-projects in Washington and California improved irrigation efficiency and water supply security for farmers and residential landowners — and kept millions of gallons of water in important steelhead streams such as Pescadero Creek at times when fish need it most. And, our capacity to drive and support better results for wild steelhead populations and habitat expanded in 2016, with the hiring of Luke Kelly as restoration ecologist. Luke’s focus will be habitat conservation and restoration projects on the Olympic Peninsula.