More info on Steelhead hatchery, Fancy words about local art, Taxpayers should have say on local art — Letters for May 4, 2022


Siuslaw News Letters to the Editor

(Editor’s Note: Viewpoint submissions on these and other topics are always welcome as part of our goal to encourage community discussion and exchange of perspectives.)

More Info On Steelhead Hatchery Decision

In response to “ODFW Commission Votes To End Steelhead Hatchery Program On North Umpqua” in the April 30 edition of the Siuslaw News — although it may seem bizarre to end a hatchery program when salmon and steelhead runs are depressed, there is more to the story.

Summer steelhead returns on the North Umpqua have been declining since 2012, and the natural (wild) escapement in 2021 was the lowest estimate since 1946, when records began. The 2021 escapement of 449 wild fish was well below ODFW’s desired abundance level (3,200) and critical abundance level of 1,200, which were established in 2014 due to concerns about wild coastal fish stocks.

Although ODFW has identified the primary cause of the downturn to low ocean survival due to poor marine conditions, a secondary cause is high water temperatures in the Umpqua watershed. These high temperatures have likely impacted both juvenile and adult summer steelhead.

ODFW also acknowledges that predation by non-native striped and smallmouth bass, which is exacerbated by high water temperatures, is a potential negative factor. ODFW has modeled stream temperatures to increase even more in the basin for the next 30 years due to climatic changes and fire-related loss of vegetation.

ODFW does not like to admit that its hatchery practices can be problematic. However, it is well documented in the scientific literature that hatchery fish can present a risk to wild fish from genetic interaction and competition. High water temperatures likely make competition more severe as there are limited cold water refuges available.

The mixing of hatchery and wild summer steelhead spawners in the North Umpqua River does not meet ODFW’s own management targets. The wild winter steelhead run in the North Umpqua has remained strong despite ending its hatchery component decades ago.

Each hatchery program needs to be evaluated on its own merits.

Given the dire straits that the population is in and the associated risks that the hatchery production entailed, there is little reason to continue the North Umpqua’s summer steelhead program. It appears that the ODFW Commission chose a prudent path to manage this word-renowned resource. This decision will not doom the Rock Creek hatchery since production of fall and spring chinook, coho, winter steelhead (South Umpqua), and two stocks of rainbow trout is likely to continue.

 Craig Burns, Florence

Fancy Words About

Local Art

On the front page of Saturday’s Siuslaw News, I read a lot of fancy words regarding “art” with “Artist Creates Mural At Siuslaw Middle” I see a mural that easily tells something.

All the fancy words trying to describe “West Coast Overlook,” that thing now stuck in the ground in front of our Justice Center, can’t cover up what it looks like.

What does it look like? You tell me as I guess maybe it is a coil of stainless steel wire coming uncoiled that was blown by the wind into the air and started to come uncoiled and stuck in the ground.

Art we definitely need — but it should be something we can easily recognize, not something we play games with trying to recognize. The mural being painted by Mr. Gardner needs no guessing or fun being made of it, unlike that “art” at the Justice Center.

Tony Cavarno — Florence

Taxpayers Should Have A Say With Art

I have some comments. First, any major project such as the “thing” in front of the Justice Center and the “mural” at the Siuslaw Middle School should be approved by the citizens of Florence.

Anytime local governing bodies are using taxpayer money and placing an item for public display, it must be voted upon by the people paying for it. Not the whim of a few committee members.

We the people who paid for it have to look at that crap on a daily basis.

If these items are “art,” then my daughter’s finger paintings should be placed in the Florence City Conference Room and Offices.

 Francis J. Straley — Florence

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