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Fish and Wildlife Commission supports sturgeon, spring chinook season guidelines

 
February 5, 2010

 

SALEM, Ore. -- The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission today affirmed ODFW staff  recommendations regarding 2010 sturgeon and spring chinook fisheries on the Columbia and Willamette rivers.

ODFW staff proposed several changes to the white sturgeon fishing seasons on the two rivers in response to recent declines in sturgeon populations. These changes include:

  • a 35 percent reduction in the sturgeon harvest quota for the Columbia River
  • expanding the spawning sanctuary below Bonneville Dam into August
  • establishment of a spawning sanctuary on the Willamette River from the Falls to the I-205 Bridge
  • creation of a separate sturgeon harvest quota for the Willamette River

Based on this guidance from the Commission, ODFW staff will work with fishery managers from Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife to develop a one-year sturgeon agreement for the upcoming 2010 season.

The Commission also directed staff to develop the necessary rules for closing the “Wall” fishery on the Willamette River in Oregon City. This location requires anglers to land and release sturgeon from atop a 45 to 60-foot concrete wall, raising concerns about the subsequent injury to the fish that are released.

“We do not like closing down opportunities, especially bank fishing opportunities on the Willamette,” said Steve Williams, ODFW assistant administrator for the fish division. “However, we have explored every option and there’s just no way to fix this site to allow for the safe release of fish.”

Instead, anglers will be encouraged to take advantage of other nearby bank fisheries at Meldrum Bar, Oak Grove, Milwaukie and a catwalk on the river that will be renovated this summer.

The Commission was also briefed on the upcoming Columbia River spring chinook season. Managers are predicting 470,000 spring chinook will return to the Columbia River this year. Seasons will be set at the Columbia River Compact meeting on Feb. 18.

In anticipation of that meeting, the Commission directed staff to look at recreational and commercial fisheries that will provide opportunity early in the season, last as long as possible, and minimize closures and re-openings. The Commission also supported using a 40 percent buffer in calculating the number of fish available for harvest. 

The Commission did not consider specific season options, but were briefed on possible scenarios ranging from a 56-day season entirely below the I-5 Bridge to a 30-day season with a mix of opportunities above and below the I-5 Bridge.

The Commission adopted a plan for the conservation and recovery of native steelhead populations in the mid-Columbia River basin. Steelhead in the mid-Columbia were listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act in 1999, and the Conservation and Recovery Plan meets both federal requirements under ESA and state requirements under the Oregon Native Fish Conservation Policy.

While the initial goal of the plan is to build steelhead populations to levels where they can be removed from the federal endangered species list, the ultimate goal is to restore the ecological and cultural significance of steelhead populations in the mid-Columbia region. Implementation of the plan will be lead by a team comprised of local landowners and watershed councils, the ODFW, Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board, Governor’s Natural Resource Office, interested tribes, federal land managers and others.

The Commission denied a citizen-petition that would have allowed the use of a gaff to land fish that were legal to harvest.

Fish and Wildlife Commission Chair Marla Rae and Oregon Board of Forestry Chair John Blackwell presented awards to four forest land managers. The awards are presented jointly by ODFW and ODF to recognize the efforts of those who contribute substantially to fish and wildlife through forest stewardship and who work for the long-term conservation of Oregon’s native species in step with the Oregon Plan for Salmon and Watersheds and the Oregon Conservation Strategy.

The 2009 award winners are:

Bud Henderson, Astoria, for habitat improvements and innovative forestry practices that benefit fish and wildlife on lands managed by Hampton Resources.

Tom Hoesly, Menasha Forest Products Corporation, North Bend and Joel Nelson, Plum Creek, Coos Bay for instream restoration that provides important spawning and rearing habitat for coho and chinook salmon, steelhead trout and resident cutthroat trout.

Paul Stell, Bend Park and Recreation District, for restoration work in Shevlin Park to provide pool habitat for fish and other wildlife and forest management practices that support a diversity of wildlife.

Sage Grouse Art

The Commission selected this sage-grouse painting by Jon Ren of Princeton, W.Va. as the 2010 winner of the Upland Game Bird Stamp art contest.

Finally, the Commission selected a sage-grouse painting by Jon Ren of Princeton, W.Va. as the winner of the 2010 Upland Game Bird Stamp art contest. Ren will be awarded $3,000 while ODFW will retain exclusive rights to his artwork.

The art will be featured on this year’s upland bird stamps, which will be available to collectors nationwide for $8.50 beginning this fall. Proceeds from these sales benefit the management of upland game birds in Oregon. Hunters that purchase an upland bird validation can also request a stamp at no extra charge by filling out a form in the 2010-2011 Oregon Game Bird Regulations, also available this fall.

A total of 18 paintings were entered for this year, and Ren’s work was one of five selected as a finalist by a panel of judges that included wildlife biologists and artists.

While Ren began his art career creating team posters for the NFL, wildlife has become his favorite subject. He placed second in the 2009 North Carolina Duck stamp contest and third in the 2010 Colorado Habitat Stamp contest.

Artists are encouraged to enter next year’s contest by submitting original artwork of spruce grouse. Criteria for judging submissions include artistic composition and the anatomical accuracy of the art. The deadline to enter is Dec. 31, 2010. Visit the Upland Game Bird Art Contest website for more information.

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Contact:

Rick Hargrave (503) 947-6020
Jessica Sall (503) 947-6023

 
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