Volunteers gathered earlier this week to help release steelhead in Whychus Creek at various Land Trust protected lands. These annual spring releases are part of a much larger regional effort to re-establish salmon and steelhead runs in Whychus Creek and other area streams (see below for more information).
In all, 35,000 tiny steelhead fry were given new homes at at Aspen Hollow Preserve, Camp Polk Meadow Preserve, Rimrock Ranch, Whychus Canyon Preserve and other private and federal lands along the creek. Volunteers hauled buckets and bags of fish by hand and then found safe release spots for the tiny 1 inch plus fish. Huge thanks to all the folks that came out, including a great crew from Deschutes Brewery!
This year's release comes on the heels of the first adult steelhead to return to Camp Polk Meadow Preserve! The Land Trust called her Stella and celebrated her arrival in March with much fanfare. According to reports from our partners at Portland General Electric (PGE), there have been a total of 45 steelhead passed so far this year above the Round Butte Dam. That number is down from previous years, but reintroduction of species is a long-term effort.
It is, however, very exciting to note that PGE also had 4 fish, including Stella, pass by their tracking station at confluence of the Deschutes River and Whychus Creek. They also found redd (spawning nest) in Whychus Creek between Alder Springs and Rimrock Ranch that was most likely a steelhead redd! Best of all the redd was near the GPS signal coming from another fish--not Stella! This gives us hope that Stella found a mate and created her nest or redd.
Steelhead releases in Whychus Creek have first started in 2007 and are led by the Oregon Dept. of Fish & Wildlife (ODFW), the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs (CTWS) and Portland General Electric (PGE). These releases are part of the larger effort to to re-establish salmon and steelhead runs in Whychus Creek and other area streams.
The reintroduction of salmon and steelhead has been the impetus for much habitat conservation and restoration in the region. The Land Trust’s primary role in the reintroduction is to work with private landowners to protect important lands in the along streams and rivers. We then work to restore these properties to improve fish and wildlife habitat. A prime example of this is the Land Trust’s multi-year restoration project on Whychus Creek at Camp Polk Meadow Preserve, which now provides important spawning and rearing habitat and improved water quality for Whychus Creek.