Clackamas Complete A Return of Bull Trout


[ Background Sounds ] [ Music ]>>This is a gem. This is Oregon’s gem. And it’s the most pristine, beautiful,
clean habitat that you’re going to find anywhere in the – probably the world. It’s a remarkable place. You know, you see this gorgeous
river, these wonderful trees. And for me, the understanding of
the connectivity and the wild nature of it is just – it’s therapeutic. The Upper Clackamas River, everything upstream of the dams gets wilder with
every step you take. And once you get past the dams, it’s a free-flowing system, a
complete wild fish sanctuary. Fish can just live freely. [ Music ] One thing missing in the
celebration of the Upper Clackamas as being a wild fish sanctuary was this one
signature fresh water trout from the northwest. [ Music ]>>Bull trout are one of the purest,
cleanest, wild living organisms that we have in the aquatic system. It’s an apex predator; so you
don’t find them in great abundance. But when you do find them, it just indicates
that so many other things are balanced. It’s the completion of the ecosystem. [ Music ]>>I guess I personally was a little
surprised that such a large watershed like the Clackamas was missing bull trout. They used to be in the Clackamas
as late as 1963. They were here for probably hundreds of
thousands of years in this watershed, evolving with all the other species here. They were the only species
completely extricated by humans. To bring them back and give
them a chance to flourish again in my mind eventually became
the only right thing to do.>>We have to do it because they’re endangered
and because their habitats are shrinking. And that system is still largely out of balance. But in the grand scheme of things,
bull trout aren’t going to reestablish in these habitats unless we help
them out, unless we put them there.>>The Metolius River has been one
of, if not the healthiest population of bull trout in the state of Oregon.>>And we found that there
were enough numbers over there to support the reintroduction
here in the Clackamas. In 2011, we brought the first bull trout over. And releasing that first fish was a
major step in recognizing past mistakes and returning wildness to the
river to just make things right. [ Music ] To move fish in 2011, in June and July,
and then to see spawning in September and October was just – it just blew me away. We thought it was possible; but you
know, nobody thought it was likely. [ Music ]>>This year in 2013, this is
the third year of the project. We’re starting to see them for the
first time spawn in different places. They’re branching out from that
original tributary they picked in 2011. We’re seeing more spawning,
more pairs, more fish maturing. And it’s just a good story. [ Music ] And I hope in 20 years if I return,
I hope it’s like it was 50 years ago. I hope everything’s here. Cutthroat and rainbows and salmon
and steelhead and bull trout.>>This was the one missing fish
that evolved in the Clackamas. It’s the one missing ingredient
of this native aquatic community. It’s really now up to bull trout to
show us that they belong back here. And I’m fairly confident
that they’ll show us they do. [ Music ]

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