Photo credit: Matt Hill

October 16, 2020 3:40 a.m.

Coho salmon juveniles from the Rock Creek Hatchery will be raised at Eastwood Elementary School’s fish rearing facility and released this spring as smolts in Cow Creek below Galesville Reservoir.

Evan Leonetti, STEP biologist from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, said next week ODFW will transfer over 700 coho juveniles from the hatchery to the school.

An ODFW release said those coho were the only surviving juvenile fish at the hatchery. There were also about 700 adult spring chinook and steelhead who survived after the Archie Creek Fire destroyed most of the facility in early September. The adult fish were transferred to Cole Rivers Hatchery and are being spawned to meet Rock Creek’s production goals.

Leonetti said this was a great outcome and he is grateful for the partnership with Eastwood Elementary. The school has housed the ODFW Fish Eggs to Fry program and a steelhead smolt program for years. He said “it’s a change for the kids to raise coho instead of steelhead, and it’s a great opportunity for them to learn more about our native salmon”.

Rock Creek Hatchery staff and Leonetti fin-clipped the coho salmon Wednesday at the Hatchery. After an observation period, the newly clipped coho will be taken to Eastwood’s facility next week.

Eastwood’s Cameron Pope, a fifth-grade teacher involved with the hatchery said he is thrilled his students get the chance to help out during a challenging time for the community. Pope said, “Helping out our friends at ODFW is teaching our students the importance of community and how we all can lend a helping hand while also learning about fish”.

The release said ODFW is committed to reaching Rock Creek’s production goals this year. The agency initiated the insurance process is working with FEMA, and has begun discussions on future fish production.