Original content from The Halfhearted Finatic:
We must stand on principles of precaution. Let’s not risk destroying a great story of conservation success.
The Metolius River in central Oregon has reached an equilibrium. Wild trout have established themselves after stocking ended here in the mid 1990s. Rainbow trout redds have steadily increased and stabilized since then. Fly fisherman come from all over the world to experience the Metolius and for the chance of encountering one of her beautiful, feisty fish. It is a river of hope and inspiration to wild fish advocates everywhere, serving as a model around the country and the world for what is actually possible when wild fish are left to their own devices and recolonize.
Unfortunately, a recent regulation proposal by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) as part of their sport fishing regulation “simplification” process would open the upper part of the river to anglers year-round, putting them in a cast’s reach of spawning wild fish in the winter and spring. Over 95% of known spawning in the Metolius occurs in the upper river. The other big issue is the lethal disturbance a fisherman has when inadvertently walking through a redd. After fertilization, rainbow trout eggs take three weeks to hatch from gravel beds in the river and can be crushed under a wading angler’s boots.
ODFW’s mandate is to ”optimize wildlife populations.” Providing greater fishing opportunity is and certainly should be priority, but not at the expense of wild fish. They are facing huge budget deficits and the agency is funded primarily through the sales of licenses and tags. Through the simplification process, I can only surmise that they are trying to woo back customers out of desperation. Wild fish need a bigger voice in the discourse at ODFW. Oregon has some of the coldest, cleanest and nutrient rich waters in the country that can support thriving wild trout communities; the people who live here and visit here place a high value on Oregon’s bountiful natural resources. ODFW needs to do a better job of reaching out to local communities for input before laying out proposals.
The question is… Why? ODFW’s idea is that by permanently opening the upper river to anglers, it will provide greater and more fishing opportunities. Through their “simplification” scheme, many protections (i.e. regulations) that were put in place go out the window entirely, leaving wild fish unnecessarily vulnerable. The wild trout of the Metolius are a coveted resource shared by many and should not be put in peril as a byproduct of a new management regime that ignores protections that wild trout populations need to sustain themselves. We must stand on principles of precaution. Let’s not risk destroying a great story of conservation success. ODFW needs to start recognizing the intrinsic value that our wild trout have to our state and we as the people need to let them know how important this issue really is.
ODFW is holding a final hearing on Sept 4th in Astoria. This will be the last time to comment before this regulation goes into effect. Please send an email in support of not adopting the proposal to open the upper Metolius River year round to both:
You do not need to write a dissertation. A few sentences with your thoughts will make a huge difference. ODFW needs to hear it loud and clear. We stand with our wild, native trout.