CCA Oregon has fielded numerous questions and concerns following last night’s Willamette Salmon and Steelhead Recovery Coalition event. CCA Oregon chose not to participate in the coalition or last night’s event due to concerns about the active involvement of groups who are actively advocating for the end of hatchery programs in the Willamette River basin. Unfortunately, our concerns were confirmed during last night’s event.
CCA Oregon advocates for the conservation of wild salmon, but is also solidly against the removal of hatchery fish from the Willamette River basin. CCA Oregon supports projects being undertaken by the Army Corps of Engineers to improve passage and restore native fish populations in the Willamette, but we don’t see any way that historic production of wild salmon is possible until major changes are made to provide access to restored habitat from headwaters to ocean - this will likely take decades. Ulness and until these changes are made, hatcheries are critical if we want to enhance salmon populations and have catch and keep fisheries.
We have been concerned that the Coalition is being driven by groups who are actively working to undermine hatcheries. CCA was asked to join the Coalition and we declined - due to these concerns and past experiences:
- We opposed past proposals to shift hatchery production out of the Willamette to the lower Columbia River
- Past efforts to remove hatchery programs on Oregon rivers (such as the Clackamas and the Molalla Rivers) have resulted in no documented increases in wild fish numbers and only resulted in the end of prolific hatchery runs that provided Oregonians with opportunities to fish.
- Our successful effort to secure state funding to keep the Leaburg hatchery open were fought by some of these very same groups earlier this year.
CCA believes hatchery fish can be an asset to wild fish recovery (e.g., through broodstock programs) and effective mitigation strategies (such as keeping hatchery fish from interacting with native fish on the upriver spawning beds).
“Too many non-profit organizations use their money to support and the grow the organization and fail to be effective in achieving their mission and producing lasting results - that's not CCA,” Said Dave Schamp, Chairman of the Board for CCA Oregon. “CCA is a grassroots organization. Our membership drives our decisions and actions. In this case our Government Relations Committee and Board of Directors decided CCA would not participate in the coalition. The reasons why have been well articulated by many on social media.”
CCA Oregon will continue to lead the fight on key issues affecting Willamette River basin fisheries, including defending hatcheries, addressing sea lion predation, and habitat restoration by relying on sound science and grassroots efforts that engage our elected officials. We will continue our efforts to hold the Army Corps of Engineers accountable for their hatchery mitigation responsibilities in the Willamette and seek to defend and increase hatchery spring chinook production, through successful grassroots efforts like the creation and stewardship of Molalla Brood Pond and saving the Leaburg hatchery. But to continue the fight we need your help. Please sign up as a member (or renew your expired one), attend a chapter banquet and/or stop and see us at the CCA booth at the Sportsman Show in February.