Willamette Spring Chinook
Studies Reports Staff Jobs Proposals
The Willamette and Sandy rivers support intense recreational
fisheries for spring chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha).
Fisheries in these basins rely primarily on annual hatchery production of 5-8
million juveniles. Hatchery programs exist in the McKenzie, Middle Fork
Willamette, North and South Santiams, Clackamas, and Sandy rivers mainly as
mitigation for dams that blocked natural production areas. Some natural spawning
occurs in most of the major basins and a few smaller tributaries upstream of
Willamette Falls. The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission adopted the Wild
Fish Management Policy to reduce adverse impacts of hatchery programs on wild
native stocks. The main goal of the policy is to protect the genetic diversity
of these stocks recognizing that genetic resources are a major component, not
only in sustaining wild stocks, but also in perpetuating hatchery programs and
the fisheries they support.
In the past, spring chinook salmon management in the Willamette and Sandy
basins focused on hatchery and fish passage issues. Limited information was
collected on the genetic structure among basin populations, abundance and
distribution of natural spawning, or on strategies for reducing risks that large
hatchery programs pose for wild salmon populations. This study is being
implemented to gather this information.
This Willamette Spring Chinook Project hopes to help managers collect
information that will lead to a management strategy for spring chinook salmon in
the Willamette and Sandy basins that (1) protects the genetic integrity of
natural populations, and (2) maintains sport and commercial fisheries and the
programs that support them. A research
proposal was created in 1996 with five (5) objectives.