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Salmon savers

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Articles - November/December 2013
Monday, October 28, 2013

Tribal Tides
Slowly Rising

Treaties. Lawsuits. Hatcheries. Genetics. And now more than a million salmon making their way back up the Columbia River.

Paul Lumley has seen plenty in his more than 20 years with the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission, which oversees management policy for the Yakama, Warm Springs, Umatilla and Nez Perce tribes. He’s been executive director of the commission for the past four years.

1,222,628: Number of returning Chinook salmon counted at Bonneville Dam through Sept. 30 of this year

“The abundance solves a lot of our problems for the moment,” says Lumley, a member of the Yakama tribe. “There has not been much fighting about fish this year.” In addition to fighting for fishing rights guaranteed by treaties signed in 1855 — with some cases going all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court — Northwest tribes have also played a major role in recent years in habitat restoration, hatchery production efforts and genetic identification.

The CRITFC’s genetics lab — a partnership with the University of Idaho that focuses on production, supplementation and recovery of Columbia Basin salmon — is considered a preeminent program in the region. Tribe-led stream restoration projects at places like Shitike Creek on the Warm Springs reservation, and an agreement that adds more water to salmon habitat every year near Hanford Reach, have also helped bolster fish populations in the basin. And the effect, especially recently, has been an economic and environmental boon for the tribes. One tangible sign: In Cascade Locks, Terrie Brigham and her sister, Kim Brigham Campbell, members of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, are opening a retail shop to sell Columbia-caught fish.

“Tribes that haven’t seen fish in decades are seeing them again. It’s wonderful,” Lumley says. “We have businesses popping up and down the river — fishing tackle, tourism, recreation — that had gone away. It’s a success.”



+2 #1 Great new issue!Guest 2013-10-30 23:40:47
Great new issue focused on salmon!

I’m surprised, however, that little mention was made of the impact on those who enjoy recreational salmon fishing.

After all, larger runs means more fun for tens of thousands of Oregonians each year, and a lot more revenue for small towns on the Oregon coast, along the Columbia River, etc.

I certainly didn’t mind spending money this past Saturday. In return? I have a great day of memories, including the 15 minutes it took to reel in the largest salmon I've ever caught.

Will I spend even more time and money salmon fishing again next summer? You bet!
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0 #2 writerGuest 2013-10-31 17:17:31
Thanks much for the comment, and glad to hear about your catch! We did touch on the aspects you're talking about in the "Slowly Rising" section about the economic benefits to tribes and small towns out along the Columbia, and also in the "Ranching and Restoring Together" section. And we'll of course be keeping an eye on future returns and the impacts they have on Oregon's angling towns and businesses. Jon Bell
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0 #3 RE: Salmon saversGuest 2013-11-02 19:10:05
This piece also points out the need to maintain a viable commercial salmon fishery so that people who don't sport fish also have access to fresh local salmon of the highest quality such as Lofgren wants to serve, thus maintaining a constituency for salmon recovery above and beyond sport anglers, which I am one of. Gill netting can be made less damaging to T&E stocks while still allowing some commercial harvest.
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