TILLAMOOK, Ore. – Hungry people along Oregon’s north coast will eat a little better this holiday season, thanks to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and a coalition of volunteers who delivered more than 500 pounds of salmon to the local food bank and other charitable organizations. More than 150 hatchery salmon were collected in late October at ODFW’s Waterhouse Falls fish trap on the North Fork Nehalem River and turned over to organizations that help feed the hungry. Most were taken to Tillamook Bay Boathouse where they were canned for distribution through the North County Food Bank. Another 11 fish were taken whole by volunteers to the Nehalem Bay House, a senior and disabled housing facility located in Nehalem.
ODFW uses the Waterhouse fish trap to capture and tag returning wild adult salmon and steelhead for a mark-recapture study to monitor the annual abundance of adult spawners in the North Fork of the Nehalem River. Stray hatchery salmon captured at the trap are removed and either used for stream enrichment or food bank donation.
“It’s reassuring to know these fish will be put to good use,” said Derek Wiley, assistant project leader for ODFW’s Life-Cycle Monitoring Project. “It took a lot of people working together to make this happen.”
Several organizations and dozens of volunteers contributed labor, funding and services, according to Wiley. Bill Campbell, former Tillamook County Community Development director, took a lead role in the project as did Darus Peake, owner of Tillamook Bay Boathouse, which processed the salmon into 1,129 7.5-ounce cans. Other participants included numerous local volunteers, Neah-Kah-Nie High School students, Sweet’s Septic Service, and the North County Food Bank. The Tillamook chapter of the Oregon Hunters Association and the North County Food Bank provided funds for canning the processed fish.