The Smith River Rancheria, SRR, is partnering with the Rowdy Creek Fish Hatchery, a private non-profit organization to help in the continuance of the promulgation of Salmon and Steelhead for the benefit of the species population, the Smith River Community and economy. Negotiations for the partnership took place over several months resulting in changes to their articles of incorporation that gave SRR the ability to appoint five representatives to the Hatchery Board. This transition occurred in late November, and has provided the SRR and Hatchery staff the opportunity to create new working relationships in the efforts of preserving this iconic feature of the Smith River community.
The Hatchery is a benefit to our community as it serves as a breeding and rearing center for salmon and steelhead. From the efforts of this facility, the harvesting of these stocks has been enhanced for commercial, sport and Tribal uses. Raising fish in the hatchery is advantageous for the environment and the community as it improves the survival of young salmon and steelhead and therefore more can be released back into the wild for derbies and other fishing activities. This also improves the spawning rates of adults as survival in the hatchery is greater than in the wild due to lack of predators in hatcheries, the abundance of food, and providing a consistent environment that reduces developmental impacts that destroy habitat and blocks migration. Without such a facility, there would be few or no fish running in our streams and rivers to accommodate the community’s needs.
If you would like to get an insider’s look of the hatchery, you can volunteer to help with spawning. The salmon’s spawning season be-gins in October or November and steelhead start spawning in late December or early January. Spawning days are Mondays and Thurs-days around 9:30 am, however they may not always have fish to spawn so it’s good idea to call ahead of time. If there are, indeed, fish to spawn and you go out to help, be sure to bring some boots and rain gear or if you don’t feel like getting into the thick of it, you’re always welcome to just watch. Either way, give them a call at (707) 487-3443 and help out, they’ll appreciate your involvement.
Submitted by Briannon Fraley, Self Governance Director
and Rosa Laucci, Marine Biologist