Healing the Coquille River

Our salmon don’t have to disappear

Jii-la! (Greetings, friends!)

I’m Brenda Meade, chairman of the Coquille Indian Tribe. Coquille River salmon have nourished my people for countless generations. Our ancestors have  relished and revered these amazing fish since time began.

But a tragedy has struck in the past few years. Fall Chinook salmon have nearly disappeared from the Coquille River. 

Barely a decade ago, in 2010, more than 30,000 fall run Chinook returned to spawn in the river. In recent years, that number has shrunk to just a few hundred. These wonderful fish are on the edge of extinction.

What’s killing our salmon?

Several issues have come together to cause this tragedy:

  • Invasive bass species devour juvenile salmon on their way to the ocean.
  • Year after year, ODFW’s brood stock collection falls short of its goals, while seals feast on adult salmon returning to spawn in the river.
  • Pollution, sediment and warmer water impede the salmon life cycle.
  • Old, deteriorated fish hatcheries produce too few smolts.
  • Rigid state policies prevent effective management.
  • The Coquille River is a low priority in the state budget.

We’re stepping up

Despite these challenges, we believe the Coquille River’s fall Chinook salmon still can be saved. In the summer of 2021, the Coquille Tribe proposed to partner with the State of Oregon on this issue.

We are developing a new kind of cooperative relationship with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife – to address the salmon crisis, and ultimately to co-manage the Coquille watershed. We will collaborate with state and local officials, landowners and sportsmen to clean up the river, thwart the predators, revitalize the hatcheries and restore habitat.

Please join us in this urgent mission.

How it’s going

A seining event in late September produced a hopeful start on gathering brood stock for the Bandon Hatchery. At right, tribal biologist Helena Linnell carries a newly captured salmon to a holding tank.

Learn more

Ways you can help

  • Write Gov. Kate BrownAsk her to make the Coquille River’s salmon a priority. 
  • Volunteer to help –  We’ll need help with the hatchery, habitat projects and more. Or just let us list you as a Community Partner.
  • Catch some bass Stripers and smallmouth bass are bad for salmon, but they’re good for dinner, and the Coquille River has no limit on them.  Until Oct. 31, you can even spear smallmouth. 
  • Share your story –  Tell us your memories of salmon fishing on the Coquille River. 

Community partners

City of Bandon

“We join the Coquille Indian Tribe in sounding the alarm about the salmon’s plight.”  Full text


Port of Bandon

“We urge your support to rescue this ancient and cherished resource from extinction.” Full text


Bandon Chamber

“When the shocking news came this spring from ODF&W that the Coquille River would be completely closed to all salmon fishing in 2021, it spelled more disaster for our community.”  Full text


Coos County Commissioners

“Cooperative management offers our best possible hope for success in saving the fall-run Chinook salmon and improving the health the watershed.” Full text


City of Powers

“We urge you to accept the tribe’s help and build an effective coalition to heal our watershed.” Full text


Bay Area Chamber of Commerce

“We join other local voices to endorse the Coquille Tribe’s co-management proposal.” Full text


Coquille Watershed Association

“In the face of climate change, land use and water quality issues, it is critical to act now to reverse alarming trends in the watershed.” Full text

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