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TD native starts branch of conservation group

A native of The Dalles is establishing a new chapter of the Coastal Conservation Association Oregon in the gorge.

Chris Cone is the executive director of the group that advocates for a balance between protection of Northwest fish runs and support for recreational fisheries.

He is a 1993 graduate of The Dalles High School and former Oregon National Guard soldier who previously served as director of the Mid-Columbia District of Boy Scouts of America.

“I grew up fishing the Columbia and mouth of the Deschutes so I am excited about now being able to help protect precious resources in a common sense way,” he said.

Cone invites community members to attend one or both of these organizational meetings:

• Charburger Country restaurant, 4100 Westcliff Drive, in Hood River at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 1.

• Cousins Restaurant and Saloon, 2114 West Sixth Street, in The Dalles at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, April 10.

“If anyone has concerns about hatcheries and how they are managed, we are the group to belong to,” said Cone of the association with chapters in 17 coastal states.

His organization contends that recreational license buyers largely fund the budget of the Oregon Fish and Wildlife and, therefore, have a right to ask that management policies be science-based and not politically driven.

Jack Smith, state president, wrote a position paper in March on behalf of the association about the importance of hatcheries and the need for sound science to govern policy.

“Hatcheries and the fishery opportunities they provide are extremely important to the social and economic fabric of our rural communities, but we have been reducing or eliminating hatchery programs for decades. These reductions represent an undeniable risk to the well-being of our region,” stated Smith.

“While some rivers have already been set aside as wild fish museums, we cannot afford to have all or even a significant number of our rivers, streams and bays managed in this manner. Before hatchery production levels or stocking regimes are changed, there needs to be a clear demonstration that current hatchery operations and or protocols are causing a specific quantifiable conservation problem.”

Prior to the reduction or elimination of hatchery programs, the association wants to see an update of the facility’s infrastructure and improvement of brood stock standards and regimes, rearing protocols and an increase in selective harvest opportunities.

“Past present and future conservation measures should be monitored for effectiveness at the population level and adjusted or discontinued as indicated by periodic review,” wrote Smith. “Our fisheries, and the hatcheries that support them, are important not only for us, but for our children and future generations here on the coast and elsewhere around the state. We simply must get this right.”

Cone said the association has been instrumental in banning gillnets on the mainstream lower Columbia River, protecting near shore ocean fisheries from “sweeping arbitrary” closures, and establishing selective recreational angling as the management priority for the lower Columbia.

He can be reached for more information at 253-677-9450 or via email at chris.cone@ccaoregon.org.

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