30 speakers primed for ODFW fish conference

– How do scientists predict the number of salmon that will return from the ocean next year?
– What are the ramifications of wave energy development off the Oregon coast?
– Why are urban centers so important to the future of Oregon’s salmon, trout and steelhead?

Oregon Dept. Fish and Wildlife: These are just a few of the more than 30 topics that will be addressed during the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Department’s STEP conference in Salem Sept. 11-13.STEP stands for Salmon and Trout Enhancement Program, which was adopted by the Oregon Legislature in 1981 to mobilize teachers, students, and volunteers in an ongoing statewide effort to bolster the state’s salmon, trout and steelhead populations.

The bi-annual STEP conference pulls experts from a wide range of fish-related disciplines together to explore the latest developments in fish conservation, management and research.

The conference is designed to give attendees a broad understanding of the science and politics of Oregon’s signature fish through a “crash course” taught by some of the region’s leading biologists, conservationists and community activists.

“Salmon in the City” is the theme of this year’s conference, which will take place at the Oregon 4-H Center eight miles west of Salem.

“Urban areas represent the key constituents to successful salmon recovery,” said Kaitlin Lovell, senior program manager for the Portland Bureau of Environmental Services, one of the conference speakers. “Urban areas typically represent critical habitats that must be restored to successfully achieve recovery. As degraded as they are, urban areas also represent some of the best, immediate opportunities for restoration.” The City of Portland, for example, has critical habitat for 13 fish species listed for protection under the Endangered Species Act.

The conference will include an overview of ODFW’s new 25-year angling plan, which focuses on enhancing youth fishing opportunities near Oregon’s population centers. It will also highlight a new fish-friendly “green” housing development in Salem, provide helpful hints to teachers who want to incorporate fish-related material in their lesson plans, and even offer tips for homeowners on how to build a backyard rain garden.

“This will be an excellent opportunity for people to come learn about Oregon’s fish from some of the top people in the field,” said Shelly Miller, acting STEP coordinator. “We are excited about the caliber of the people and the quality of the topics that will be represented at this year’s conference.”

Registration is required and costs $15. Forms are available on ODFW’s Web site at http://www.dfw.state.or.us/step/step-conference.asp.

For a list of conference speakers and their topics.

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