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.


How it’s going

Together with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife plus local volunteers, we collected 34 breeding pairs of fall Chinook salmon in 2021. That’s a great first step: 1,000 percent better than 2020. See details below.

Hatchery gets a boost (Nov. 22)

Wet, chilly work (Nov. 1)

A hopeful start (Sept. 28)

 


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

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City of Myrtle Point

“In just the past decade, what previously was a lively sport fishery has dwindled to almost no fish at all.” Full text

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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

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Port of Bandon

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

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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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Shoreline Education and Awareness

“Limited resources have hobbled the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife efforts to restore the Coquille River’s Chinook population. The Coquille Tribe’s experience, motivation and resources are essential for restoring the salmon population in the river.” Full text

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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

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City of Coquille

“Combining resources and involving a more vested local voice and action plan can prove to be very effective.” Full text

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City of Powers

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

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Port of Coquille River

“Already this fall, we are seeing positive results from the tribe’s participation and leadership in
organizing a cooperative local response.” Full text

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Bay Area Chamber

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

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