02/10/2017 – John Snyder – NWFN
SALEM, Ore.—The Fish and Wildlife Commission approved a land acquisition that will add 95 acres to the Coquille Valley Wildlife Area in Coos County during their meeting in Tigard today.
The wildlife area provides wetland habitat for wildlife and outdoor recreation opportunities. The Nature Conservancy is providing funds to acquire the property.
Also today, the Commission modified some rules for Columbia River System tribal fisheries to ensure consistency between state and tribal fishing regulations.
Commissioners also adopted a resolution in support of the national Blue Ribbon Panel funding recommendations. Congress will be considering legislation dedicating existing revenue from the development of energy and mineral resources on federal lands and waters to states for wildlife conservation efforts.
Commissioners were briefed about the 2015-16 Access and Habitat Program Biennium Report and lower Columbia River sturgeon population status. ODFW staff characterized the status of the white sturgeon population as “mixed,” citing increasing abundance of larger fish as positive indicators and reduced numbers of smaller fish as “cautionary signs.” Recreational and commercial harvest of sturgeon has been closed since 2014 downstream of Bonneville Dam, Willamette Falls, and along both coastlines. Recreational sturgeon fishing trips have dropped by over 80 percent since sturgeon retention was closed on the lower river, although catch-and-release sturgeon fishing remains open. Commissioners received a request from several members of the public to look into the possibility of reopening a limited retention season.
In other business, yesterday the Commission received a letter from Governor Kate Brown, asking them to reconsider their Columbia River fisheries reform decision from last month. The Commission will take up this issue at either their scheduled March 17 meeting or at a special meeting before April 4.
The Commission is the policy-making body for fish and wildlife. The next meeting is March 17 in Corvallis.