Our work on the Sandy River in 2011, resulted in the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) ending their collection of wild salmon and steelhead listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) for their hatchery broodstock program. Without the required permits issued by the federal government, ODFW was collecting ESA listed wild salmon and steelhead to use their eggs and milt for commercial and recreational harvest. Native Fish Society contends that ODFW was illegally killing, trapping and otherwise harming fish protected under the ESA.

For the first time, ODFW also acknowledged the tremendous problem they have with hatchery spring chinook spawning with wild spring chinook. This has jeopardized the future returns of these wild fish since the removal of Marmot Dam in 2007. As a result of our actions, ODFW installed weirs to prevent wild and hatchery salmon from spawning together (straying). Despite their efforts the stray rate in 2011 was nearly 70%, violating ODFW’s own 10% threshold. It is clear that the agency is not as concerned with recovering wild fish in the Sandy as they are with continuing their hatchery programs at the expense of wild fish.

The Native Fish Society will remain vigilant on the Sandy to ensure that the tremendous public investment in dam removal and habitat restoration results in the recovery and delisting of Sandy River wild salmon and steelhead. To do any less would be contrary to our mission. The Sandy River represents the best place to set a precedent by holding ODFW and NOAA accountable to their own laws.

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