Central Oregon Daily - ODFW seeks feedback on fish management in Columbia Basin, Deschutes River

This article was published on: 03/24/22 4:38 PM

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife is asking anglers to complete a listening survey about fishery management in the Columbia Basin and the Deschutes River.

Returns of summer steelhead to areas above Bonneville Dam hit a record low in 2021, closing the Deschutes River to steelhead fishing for the first time since 1978 and impacting fisheries throughout the mainstem and tributaries.

ODFW wants to use the survey to involve anglers and other stakeholders in management decisions when steelhead runs are low, so they can be better informed and prepared for fishery restrictions.

The survey, conducted by Oregon State University Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, can be completed at https://oregonstate.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_bJYqhcM8W5y1Ne6.

Surveys need to be completed by April 11.

On April 19 at 6 p.m., ODFW fish biologists throughout the Columbia Basin will present a webinar to discuss summer steelhead management, what was learned from the survey, decision frameworks for fishery restrictions and more.

This webinar will be livestreamed over ODFW’s YouTube channel and include a Q and A session where fisheries biologists will answer questions submitted during the livestream.

“We want to better understand the perspectives and concerns of those who are interested in the management of summer steelhead in the Columbia River and its tributaries including the Deschutes, John Day, Walla Walla, Umatilla, Imnaha and Grande Ronde Rivers,” said Shaun Clements, ODFW assistant fish division administrator. “So we really appreciate everyone interested in this issue taking the time to complete the survey.”

“Our first priority is always conservation, and unfortunately upriver summer steelhead runs have been on a downturn since 2017,” he continued. “Greater transparency about management actions that may be taken during low runs will help communities impacted by closures prepare and understand when management actions will be taken and why.”

While permanent regulations for these fisheries could change in the future, the decision frameworks initially will be used to make in-season regulation changes (e.g. temporary rules).

This public process is in addition to the normal process for mainstem Columbia River fisheries and the annual Sport Fishing Regulations process.

For more background on steelhead management in the Columbia River Basin and to sign up for updates, please visit https://myodfw.com/articles/steelhead-management-columbia-snake-river-basins

While the survey is designed to capture public comments on this issue, questions about steelhead management in the Columbia Basin including the tributaries can be emailed to odfw.steelhead@odfw.oregon.gov