Salmon Stewardship SummitNews & Program Updates
Students from across the Pacific Rim unite to investigate wild salmon
July 31, 2009 -- Understanding the keys to healthy juvenile salmon habitat was top priority at the first-ever Salmon Stewardship Summit, an ecologically focused camp sponsored by WSC and partners Sakhalin Salmon Initiative, The Freshwater Trust, and the Siuslaw Institute. Sixteen students and teachers from Sakhalin Island (Russia) joined their Oregonian counterparts for the nine-day Summit at the picturesque Camp Arrah Wanna near Mt. Hood, Oregon.
At the camp, the students and teachers divided into Russian and American science inquiry teams to conduct research projects focusing on the question: What role do side channels play in providing habitat for juvenile salmonids? The assignment encouraged students to think about the importance of habitat for conserving and restoring healthy salmon runs. Students assessed water quality and other features critical to evaluating habitat, such as wildlife surveys, macroinvertebrate sampling, and stream morphology. The research results were presented in both languages at a ceremony marking the close of camp.
Guest speakers from local government agencies and organizations lent their expertise to Summit participants—including representatives from the U.S. Forest Service, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Oregon Trout, and the Sandy River Basin Watershed Council. Staff from WSC and The Freshwater Trust participated at the Summit as science inquiry leaders, cabin counselors, and interpreters.
Evenings at the Summit provided a break from daytime temperatures reaching 105 degrees and gave the students opportunities to share distant cultures bound by salmon. Events included a traditional salmon roast and First Foods ceremony led by elders of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs and demonstrations of fly casting and GPS techniques, Dutch oven baking, and Native American beading.
Reflecting on her impressions of the Summit, Mariah Dawson from Beaverton wrote in her journal: "Although it was extremely hot, the river was cool. I learned all about salmon and many new skills like swing dancing and catching bugs. I hope to remember all the people I met and how we tried to communicate despite not understanding each other's language."
The Salmon Stewardship Summit took place on the fifth anniversary of the Sakhalin Salmon Initiative (SSI), a partnership between Oregon and Sakhalin focused on conservation and sustainable management of Pacific salmon. SSI is a public-private partnership effort that has its roots in Oregon’s own salmon conservation policy, The Oregon Plan for Salmon and Watersheds. Over the last five years, representatives of Northwest branches of U.S. federal agencies, Oregon state government, and local watershed councils, Tribes, and schools have traveled to Sakhalin to share their knowledge with their Russian counterparts.