Action Alert: Help Protect the Trout, Salmon, and Steelhead of Oregon’s Nehalem River Watershed

Written by: Tracy Nguyen-Chung

The Nehalem River could use even more protection than that proposed by the State of Oregon.
Photo by Tracy Nguyen-Chung

Oregon’s North Coast is an incomparable wonder, and home to the Nehalem River. (Nehalim is Salish for “place where people live.”) Lush forests, a sweeping coastal estuary, and miles of tributaries make the Nehalem watershed a key habitat for salmon and steelhead.

Currently, the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD) is assessing a 17.5 mile stretch of the Nehalem River for a State Scenic Waterway designation. The proposed section runs from the Spruce Run Campground to the Cougar Valley State Park. The Wild Salmon Center (WSC), private landowners, community members, public land owners, and conservation organizations all partner to form the advisory committee to provide input on the designation’s management plan.

This Nehalem sea-run cutthroat fell for a caddisfly imitation.
Photo by Tracy Nguyen-Chung

While the designation plan covers in-stream water flows that provide for fish and recreational uses, it does not contain specific language about protections for specific fish species, such as wild steelhead, coho and Chinook salmon, and cutthroat trout. The current draft also does not reflect conservation-focused language around forest management. As a point of reference, the Upper Deschutes Scenic Waterway management plan specifically addresses timber harvest activities, reforestation, and plantings.

The State of Oregon has made their draft plan public, and the Oregon Parks & Recreation Department is asking for public comment now through Sept. 22. This open period provides an opportunity for anglers and recreationists alike to express support for designation and encourage OPRD to ensure that the final plan prioritizes the long-term health and conservation of the Nehalem.

 Take action: submit your comments by email to or via the Wild Salmon Center website form.

Tracy Nguyen-Chung was born and raised in Portland, OR and is the founder of Brown Folks Fishing. She’s a publicist and Creative Director at After Bruce, who spends most of her free time chasing steelhead and salmon all over the PNW.

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