Oregon river© Ken Morrish
Where We Work

Oregon Coast

Where We Work

Oregon Coast

Protecting Public Lands

The Oregon Coast represents the largest regional sanctuary in the lower 48 for wild fish. Wild Salmon Center is strengthening this great collection of stronghold rivers from headwaters to sea in order to recover Oregon Coast coho populations and eventually remove them from the federal endangered species list. We work with public, private, and nonprofit partners to protect headwaters forests, conserve lowland streams and wetlands, and reduce competition between hatchery fish and wild fish.

Protecting the Tillamook headwaters

The Tillamook and Clatsop State Forests cover 518,000 acres of temperate rain forests and free-flowing rivers between greater Portland and the Pacific Ocean. Six rivers here—the Trask, Wilson, Kilchis, Miami, Nehalem, and Salmonberry—host extraordinary runs of wild fall Chinook and winter steelhead, as well as spring Chinook, coho, chum, and rainbow and sea-run cutthroat trout.

To balance conservation and logging, Wild Salmon Center and our local partners, the Oregon Forest Conservation Coalition, have so far secured 140,000 acres in the Tillamook and Clatsop State Forests for wildlife, streams, and unique, threatened plants.

Keeping the Elliott State Forest public

The Elliott State Forest near Coos Bay is a coastal gem consisting of 82,500 acres of public land that includes rare remnant old growth and critical habitat for Oregon coastal coho salmon. Unfortunately, the forest is at risk of being sold to a private logging company. Privatization would cut off access for local anglers and hunters—the Elliott is some of the last accessible land in the area—and could harm fish habitat.

Governor Brown has a vision for these lands that would keep the forest publicly owned and publicly accessible. Her framework includes protection for rare habitat and water quality, a sustainable timber program, and a tribal ownership element. Oregonians should support this vision.

Safeguarding rivers on Oregon’s federal lands

More than 2.4 million acres of federal “O&C” lands in Western Oregon harbor the headwaters of some of the state’s strongest wild steelhead and salmon runs — including the Rogue, McKenzie, Nestucca and North Umpqua. The lands also provide clean drinking water for nearly 2 million Oregonians and host some of the last old growth forests in the Pacific Northwest.

WSC continues to work with Sen. Wyden and other allies in Congress to protect all the important benefits provided by O&C and other federal lands in Western Oregon.

A business plan for recovering coho

Wild Salmon Center has partnered with the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, National Marine Fisheries Service, NOAA Restoration Center, and National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to build a business plan for the conservation of Oregon Coast coho. The plan for voluntary habitat protection and restoration projects, developed with local communities, will help recover threatened and endangered populations of coho.

Creating coastal sanctuaries for wild fish

Wild Salmon Center believes hatcheries play an important role producing salmon for recreational and commercial harvest. But to protect diverse runs of wild fish, we should prevent the spread of hatcheries into rivers that support important wild salmon populations.

On the Oregon Coast, a series of rivers north of the Rogue River stretching up to the Columbia remain free of hatchery fish. WSC supported the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife in establishing “Wild Fish Emphasis Areas” on roughly half of the watersheds between the Rogue River and Columbia. The state has committed to keep these watersheds “hatchery free” for 12 years.

In the coastal watersheds where hatchery programs remain, Oregon is also reducing hatchery releases and changing hatchery release locations and timing to avoid overlap with wild salmon migrations.

© Tom & Pat Leeson
Half of Oregon rivers north of the Rogue are now managed for wild fish.
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