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By Karly DeWees
Salmon management plays a major role in keeping salmon in our rivers. The salmon living in Eugene’s nearby rivers have an effect on other ecosystems, commercial fishing, the economy, and habitats for other animals, from California up to Alaska, as well as playing a role in the culture of indigenous people.
Past construction of dams and levies, logging, and man made changes to the rivers have all caused detrimental affects to salmon and their habitats. River channeling and the construction of dikes and jetties began in the 1860s by the Army Corps of Engineers as a way to cope with the rapidly growing cities such as Portland, Spokane, and Salem, and to provide hydroelectric power.
Salmon of the Pacific Northwest now face extinction. Fishermen and consumers will see more GMO salmon, more hatchery raised fish and less wild salmon in the rivers and in stores. The trend of warming waters stresses the salmon population and increases pathogens, leading to die-offs. Droughts, such as the one the Columbia River is experiencing this year, in which an estimated fifty to eighty-five percent of the salmon will die, may essentially wipe out the salmon population.
The beautiful scenic drive from Eugene to the Alsea Fish Hatchery took me through mountains, endless acres of Christmas tree farms, and along a road winding through a rich green forest area known as Alsea Falls. The hatchery is located along the North Fork of the Alsea River and provides fish for the Siletz, Siuslaw, and Alsea River.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Jason Mitzer, owner of the Home Waters Fly Fishing shop in downtown Eugene. He explained how salmon management and rising water temperatures can affect his business. And then I was fortunate to spend a day on the river watching him fly fish.