Columbia River Cold Water Refugia Will Require No-Angling Sanctuaries to Effectively Protect Wild Steelhead

The Conservation Angler was invited to join an eminent panel of climate change experts who collectively presented critical information to the Oregon House of Representatives’ Water Committee on March 4, 2020

Water Committee chair Representative Ken Helm invited the panelists to inform the House Water Committee on the critical situation facing migrating wild steelhead, salmon and lamprey confronting climate change impacts in the Columbia River.

dam-tca-cwrIn addition to David Moskowitz, TCA Executive Director, a long-time advocate for protecting migrating wild fish in the Columbia, the panel also consisted of Dr. Shaun Clements from Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Dr. Laurie Weitkamp of the National Marine Fisheries Service NW Science Center and Brook Penaluna, a fish biologist with the US Forest Service’s Pacific Northwest Research Station at Oregon State University in Corvallis.

img_2175-1The presentations made on the climate change impacts on fish migration in the Columbia River Basin, as well as the broader impacts of climate change already affecting fish, wildlife and weather were startling.

It was unfortunate that House Republicans had abandon their duties at the State Capitol in protest of taking up Climate Change legislation, especially since the presentations to the House Water Committee directly implicated the present and future threats to pollinators, forest health, agricultural production, commercial shellfishing, irrigation interests, recreation and tourism – all of which are mainstays in rural, suburban and urban legislative districts across the Pacific Northwest.

TCA’s presentation focused on the importance of Cold Water Refugia along the Columbia River, and the immediate need to protect wild salmon and steelhead, relying on these cold-water sanctuaries during their migration, from intensive fishing pressure (both sport and commercial) in them.img_6614Our presentation slides, essentially based on the EPA’s Draft Cold Water Refugia Plan released in October 2019, can be found here:

Conservation Angler Presentation

Our memo to the Water Committee, based on Bill Bakke’s capture of scientific research on steelhead use of cold water refugia is here:

TCA Memo to Water Committee

ODFW’s presentation slides can be found here:

ODFW’s Climate Change Slides

Dr, Laurie Weitkamp from NMFS Science Center presentation slides are here:

Dr. Weitkamp’s NWFSC Presentation

Brook Penaluna’s presentation is here:

Brook Penaluna from the USFS PNW Station

There is video of the entire invited panel, as well as some good Q&A at the end of the presentations can be found here:  It is about an hour and 15 minutes.

Oregon House Water Committee Hearing on March 4, 2020

The slide presentations include some very illuminating findings, and the Q&A in the last 15 minutes is well-worth listening to.

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