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Christmas for Coho

Joel La Follette - Wednesday, December 30, 2015

For the last three years, Royal Treatment Fly Fishing has teamed up with the Tualatin Valley chapter of Trout Unlimited and an other area fly shop to collect used Christmas Trees to be repurposed for Salmon habitat. This year we hope to make this program an even bigger success by collecting even more trees. Help us spend the word to all of your non-fishing friends and let's get them involved in this great program. We will be collecting trees from 9:00AM until 4:00PM on two dates this year, January 2nd and 9th. Volunteers will be available at the old Fire Station next door to the fly shop to help unload your Christmas tree and send it on its way to help Coho Salmon. Please make sure to remove all ornaments, tinsel, little twinkly lights and squirrels. We can't take squirrels. Our address is 21570 Willamette Drive in West Linn, OR. Please call the shop if you have questions. 503.850.4397

A  $10.00 donation to helps cover the costs of transportation and other related expenses is requested.

Christmas for Coho History

In 2012, the Tualatin Valley chapter of Trout Unlimited began this innovative program that provides a public service while at the same time benefits Oregon coastal coho salmon. It has grown each year, with about 1,500 trees collected last holiday season. The effort has received national and local media coverage, including an award from Field & Stream magazine in 2014 as one of its “Heroes for a Day” ten top volunteer conservation projects.

TU volunteers collect the Christmas trees, haul them to the coast and deposit them into selected backwaters, beaver ponds and wetlands. The trees quickly provide shade and shelter for juvenile coho and a nurturing breeding habitat for invertebrates the fish feed on. Results have been amazing, with thousands of young coho observed feeding and hiding among the trees. This enhanced habitat helps young coho thrive during the critical rearing period before they swim out to the ocean.

What’s Happening with Coho Salmon on the Oregon Coast?

Oregon coastal coho salmon, once numbering over a million strong, declined dramatically in the last half of the 20th century. In 1996 only about 50,000 wild coho returned to their natal spawning streams. The following year, Oregon coastal coho were listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Today, coastal coho are coming back – over the last five years an average of over 200,000 wild coho have returned to Oregon coastal streams to spawn, thanks in large part to hatchery reforms, harvest reductions and habitat improvements.

Why Do Coho Need Christmas Trees?

Because they spend a year in their natal streams before migrating to the ocean, juvenile coho depend on healthy freshwater habitats for their survival. These rapidly growing fish seek backwater sloughs, wetlands and ponds with connections to river main-stems where they feed, hide from predators and find relief from strong currents. However, one important habitat component that is often missing from these quiet waters is "woody debris".

Historically, coastal stream channels and backwaters were full of fallen branches, whole trees, root wads and wood dispersed by beavers. But changing land use patterns over the years and the need for floodwater management has resulted in humans cleaning out of much of this material. Christmas trees collected and deposited by TU volunteers are proving to be an excellent substitute for naturally occurring woody debris that is in short supply in coho habitats today.

Give your Christmas Tree a second life. Recycle it for Salmon habitat on the dates listed above.
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21570 Willamette Drive West Linn, OR 97068

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