A Unique Partnership

A government agency with budget constraints

Following the decision to discontinue stocking in the 5.1 mile section of the Lower McKenzie, Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife biologists expressed interest in monitoring the section’s wild trout populations to assess recovery over a multi-year period.  However, as cost estimates for an agency-led project spiraled into the hundreds of thousands of dollars, it quickly became apparent that a study of this magnitude would require a number of man-hours which were simply out of reach for the Springfield ODFW office’s three-person crew.

A group of committed volunteers

During the public process which had preceded the decision to curtail stocking, a large group of anglers had expressed interest in assisting ODFW in wild trout studies on the McKenzie.  These included members of several local fishing clubs, as well as area business owners.  These anglers felt this was a unique opportunity to collect data which could inform present and future fisheries management decisions.

Generous sponsors

Though the study would be conducted primarily with volunteer effort, a substantial amount of money was still needed to purchase Floy tagging guns, tags, and data tabulation supplies.  Several sponsors offered cash contributions, and several others offered fishing items which would be used as an incentive for volunteer participation.  In no small part due to the efforts of volunteer fundraiser Dave Thomas, over $7500 was donated to the project.  Additional equipment was loaned to the project by the University of Idaho for the radio telemetry study.

An ambitious plan

In February of 2010, members of the angler coalition met with ODFW biologists to express their desire to help.  Together, the two groups outlined a plan for a multi-year, mark and recapture study, designed to evaluate whether wild trout populations would increase after competition from hatchery trout plants was eliminated in the 2010 season. The plan was to conduct a five-year study, beginning in March 2010 and ending in 2014. The majority of sampling effort would be conducted by volunteers.  ODFW staff would provide technical guidance and training.  ODFW would also supplement volunteer effort with electrofishing and seining. Volunteer study coordinators would be responsible for data tabulation and reporting, with assistance as necessary from ODFW. The study coordinators included two professional statisticians and a professional biologist.

Our Sponsors

The Caddis Fly Angling Shop

Federation of Flyfishers

Flyfishers Club of Oregon

McKenzie Flyfishers

Native Fish Society

Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife

Trout Unlimited National

Trout Unlimited Chapter 678 “The Redsides”

The University of Idaho

Wasatch Custom Angling Products

So, how much can volunteers really do?

Turns out, quite a lot, if you’re asking people to go fishing in the name of science.

Next: Volunteer Effort