Siuslaw Watershed to host discussion on salmon returns

Coho salmon returns declined from over 400,000 in the late 1800s to as low as 500 in the 1990s.

Aug. 10, 2019 — Join the Siuslaw Watershed Council on Wednesday, Aug. 28, at the Siuslaw Public Library from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. for a presentation about ocean and river ecosystem indicators of salmon returns and how folks use those indicators to determine salmon fishing limits on the coast as set by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW).

John Spangler, District Fish Biologist with the ODFW will bring his 26 years of experience in the Northwest Oregon district to inform attendees about salmon spawning survey data collection, population estimates, forecasts and regulation development for Coho and Chinook salmon on the coast.

Laurie Weitkamp, Research Fisheries Biologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), will discuss ocean conditions and survival of salmon while they're in the ocean.

Since 2014, ocean temperatures across the much of Northeast Pacific have been above average. Warm temperatures that started with the “Blob” and the strong 2015/2016 El Niño have persisted across much of the region despite two weak La Niñas.

The initial marine heat wave resulted in dramatic changes to marine ecosystems at all trophic levels from diatoms to marine mammals. While the distributions and abundances of many species have returned to normal, other changes continue due to biological lags and the persistence of warm water species in our area. This talk provides an update on how the “Blob”, El Niño, and La Niñas changed the ocean and the biological response to those changes, including many observations from our local area.

Weitkamp has been a Salmon Biologist at NOAA’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center since 1992. Her research focuses on the ecology of salmon in estuarine and marine environments, including how physical conditions influence biological processes that are important for survival. This topic includes documenting the impacts of recent anomalous conditions on marine ecosystems across the North Pacific Ocean.

The Siuslaw Watershed Council, along with local partners including the Confederated Tribes of the Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw Indians, the Siuslaw National Forest, the Bureau of Land Management, the Soil and Water Conservation District, McKenzie River Trust and others, are working to restore habitat for fish during their freshwater life stages. In the late 1800s, as many as 450,000 coho salmon returned to the Siuslaw every year. That number decreased to as low as 500 coho salmon returning in the 1990s. The watershed and its partners are working to ensure a sustainable and resilient population of salmon in the Siuslaw and Coastal Lakes so that future generations can have salmon in their streams.

Learn more about the Siuslaw Watershed online at or attend the  Aug. 28 event, which is open to the public.


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