KLAMATH FALLS, Ore.—The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission today unanimously adopted the Rogue River Spring Chinook Conservation Plan and related regulation changes.
The conservation plan addresses the decline of spring chinook through management techniques and new harvest rules. Before Lost Creek Dam was built, wild spring chinook returns averaged about 28,000. Since 1990, returns have averaged about 9,000 despite decreased harvest rates in ocean fisheries.
The plan, which follows criteria of the Native Fish Conservation Policy, was crafted over the course of three years by ODFW with significant input from an Advisory Committee. Nine alternatives describing management strategies to modify reservoir and fishery management were created with Alternatives 8 and 9 receiving support from members of the advisory committee.
The Commission adopted Alternative 9 which relies primarily on significant improvements to fish management strategies over the population’s current habitat range. The adopted alternative calls for ODFW to work closely with the United States Army Corps of Engineers to implement specific actions designed to increase the production of wild spring chinook in the Rogue River downstream of Lost Creek Dam.
Modified angling regulations were designed to ensure protection for the early-returning wild run that is most depressed. While harvest opportunities will decrease for wild fish until desired status is attained, harvest opportunities will increase for hatchery fish.
Hatchery fish currently account for about two-thirds of the spring chinook that return annually to the Rogue River and are produced to mitigate for spawning habitat blocked by Lost Creek Dam.
“ODFW now has a plan to manage this important population of depressed wild fish,” said Tom Satterthwaite, Fish Project Leader and lead author of the plan. “We believe that under average rates of ocean survival, the population should reach desired status within two or three generations.”
“The plan is critical for the Rogue River to continue support healthy runs of wild fish and their habitats for recreational, commercial and cultural benefits,” added Satterthwaite.
Satterthwaite said significant challenges remain to population recovery, but the structured planning approach resulted in clear direction for ODFW to manage aquatic habitat and the fish themselves.
“This plan is part of the Native Fish Conservation Policy and therefore directly supports the Oregon Plan for Salmon and Watersheds,” said Sue Knapp, policy advisor, Governor’s Natural Resources Office.
The following special angling regulations allow for the harvest of wild late-run spring chinook and were also adopted by the Commission:
- Anglers may keep only adipose fin clipped (marked) chinook salmon from Jan. 1 – May 31 on the Rogue River mainstem upstream to Hog Creek boat landing, including tidewater. During June 1 – Dec. 31, zone rules would allow anglers to keep two marked or unmarked chinook salmon per day.
- Anglers may keep only adipose fin clipped (marked) chinook salmon from Jan. 1 – May 31 from Hog Creek to Gold Ray Dam. During June 1 – Sep 30, zone rules would allow anglers to keep two marked or unmarked chinook salmon per day.
- Anglers may keep only adipose fin clipped (marked) chinook salmon from Jan. 1 – June 30 from Gold Ray Dam to Dodge Bridge. During July 1 – Aug. 31, zone rules would allow two non-adipose fin clipped chinook salmon may be harvested daily in this area. This area is closed to all chinook salmon angling from Sept. 1 – Dec. 31.
- Anglers may keep only adipose fin clipped (marked) chinook salmon from Jan. 1 – July 31 from Dodge Bridge to Cole Rivers Hatchery Diversion Dam. This area is closed to chinook salmon angling from Aug. 1 – Dec. 31.
- In addition to the hook and weight regulations, any attached weight may be no more than six feet above the lowermost hook for sections one through three of the Rogue River (from the mouth to Cole Rivers Hatchery Diversion Dam).
For more information on the Rogue River Spring Chinook Conservation Plan, check the ODFW website at www.dfw.state.or.us/fish/nfcp/rogue_river
The Commission also adopted the 2008 sport fishing regulations which are scheduled to be available to the public on Dec. 1.
Twelve Restoration and Enhancement project totaling $201,291 were approved by the commission. The Commission also approved six Access and Habitat projects totaling $509,871.
The Commission is the policy-making body for fish and wildlife issues in the state. The next commission meeting is scheduled for Oct. 12 in Salem.