Commission hears from Tribes on North Umpqua steelhead decision
SALEM, Ore. — Following up on a commitment from May 2022, the Fish and Wildlife Commission met with interested federally recognized Tribes from western Oregon to hear additional information regarding the Commission’s April 2022 decision to terminate the North Umpqua summer steelhead hatchery program.
Representatives from the Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians (CCBUTI), Coquille Indian Tribe, Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde and Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw Indians all provided information in-person or remotely.
Several Tribes specifically asked the Commission to rescind their April 2022 decision to end the North Umpqua hatchery summer steelhead program and look for other ways to reduce the number of hatchery fish on natural spawning grounds, one of the main factors that led to the Commission’s decision.
ODFW recently entered into new cooperative management agreements with several of the nine federally recognized Tribes in Oregon, including the Coquille Indian Tribe and CCBUTI, that advance the government-to-government relationship between those Tribes and the State of Oregon.
Commissioners listened to the Tribes but took no other action in response to their information. Today’s meeting was just to hear from the Tribes.
Due to a court order after the Commission’s April 2022 decision, hatchery summer steelhead smolts were volitionally released in the North Umpqua River in May 2022. The Commission’s decision remains enjoined until the Oregon Court of Appeals rules on the case.
Also today, the Commission:
Adopted a schedule of damages for commercial fishing violations per ORS 506.720. The average market value of each species of food fish is established annually by the Commission and used if the Commission files civil lawsuits for damages associated with unlawful taking of food fish.
Extended hunting opportunity into the 2023 season for three Rocky Mountain goat tag holders who were unable to hunt in 2022 due to wildfire. Rocky Mountain goat tags can only be drawn once-in-a-lifetime but 2022 wildfires kept some hunters from being able to access hunting areas.
Heard updates on offshore wind energy development that will address national and state goals related to addressing climate change, but is also forecast to have impacts on fish and wildlife. The Commission also heard about the department’s pursuit of funding from recent federal infrastructure legislation which has supported habitat restoration, fish passage and wildlife connectivity projects to be completed by the department and a variety of partners across the state.
A recording of today’s meeting is available at https://www.dfw.state.or.us/agency/commission/.
The next Commission meeting is Feb. 16-17 in Portland and includes a meet-and-greet at the Pacific Northwest Sportsman Show on Thursday, Feb. 16. More details will be available next month.