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Action Alert:

The Best Hatchery is a Healthy River: Let Leaburg Go!

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The Best Hatchery is a Healthy River: Let Leaburg Go!

On the emerald banks of Oregon's iconic McKenzie River, a plume of brown, murky water shoots from a side-channel and mixes with the clear blue waters of the mainstem river. Follow the offending channel a few steps, and you will find yourself at the Leaburg Fish Hatchery.

Today, we need your help encouraging the State of Oregon to shutter this deadbeat hatchery and LET LEABURG GO! Right now, Oregon lawmakers are considering whether to provide funding to keep Leaburg operational after the federal government, the original funder for the hatchery, moved operations elsewhere.

Oregon lawmakers need to hear from you about the need to invest in HABITAT, NOT HATCHERIES! Please sign the petition to lawmakers on the right. Want to have an even bigger impact? Call the lawmakers listed at the bottom and tell them: THE BEST HATCHERY IS A HEALTHY RIVER -- LET LEABURG GO!

Leaburg Hatchery was built more than 65 years ago to produce fish to partially mitigate for the wild fish production lost by the construction of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (the Corps) dams in the Willamette Basin.

Much has changed in the McKenzie watershed since Leaburg was first built including the collapse of Willamette wild spring Chinook salmon and winter steelhead populations. The decline has been so severe that both species are now listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Restoring healthy, well-functioning ecosystems in the McKenzie is critical to recovery for the Willamette's wild spring Chinook in particular.

And Leaburg Hatchery hasn't aged well. Due to its deteriorating infrastructure in need of substantial and costly reengineering and maintenance, the Corps transferred fish production in 2018 to an out of basin contractor. It is more cost effective to acquire the rainbow trout for planting in the McKenzie and nearby waters from another hatchery to meet the agency’s mitigation obligation than to bring the Leaburg Hatchery up to current operating standards.

But the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) has seized on this opportunity to expand the state's hatchery programs in the Willamette basin by taking over Leaburg Hatchery in order to produce even more hatchery rainbow trout, spring Chinook salmon, and summer steelhead. In total, ODFW wants to produce nearly half a million more hatchery fish at Leaburg Hatchery at an ongoing annual cost of nearly a million dollars.

Beyond its costly repairs, Leaburg Hatchery presents serious problems for wild fish recovery, the health of the McKenzie River, and the pocketbooks of taxpayers including:

• ODFW’s production proposal for Leaburg will have direct impacts on native and Endangered Species Act listed fish.
• There is significant legal liability surrounding the Leaburg Hatchery program as ODFW lacks approved Hatchery Genetic Management Plans for summer steelhead and spring Chinook salmon and the proposed production at Leaburg could impact legally protected threatened fish.
• The facilities at Leaburg Hatchery need considerable renovation to meet current operational and safety standards.
• There are concerns about the water quality impacts of Leaburg Hatchery operations on the McKenzie River--the hatchery's water quality permit is significantly overdue for renewal, and the hatchery has been issued notices of noncompliance for past water quality violations.

Continuing to operate the deadbeat Leaburg Hatchery puts our wild fish and our ecosystems at risk and asks Oregon's taxpayers to foot the bill. Elsewhere, decommissioned hatcheries have been renovated to meet other necessary objectives like serving as wildlife rehabilitation facilities or have been sold to private entities for conversion to new functions such as plant nurseries and mushroom farms.

We know that the best hatchery is a healthy river. The State of Oregon needs to prioritize its limited funds where they can be of greatest benefit to our native fish and our communities. Our fish and our state will be better served if public funds are utilized to restore our wild fish and their homewaters. Let’s give our wild fish the best hatcheries we can—healthy rivers.

Sign the petition to the right and take a moment to call the lawmakers listed below. Tell them to LET LEABURG GO!

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Comments Delivered To

Senator Betsy Johnson - OR Senate District 16

Senator Elizabeth Steiner Hayward - OR Senate District 17

Senator Kathleen Taylor - OR Senate District 21

and 5 others

Representative Jeff Reardon - OR House District 48

Senator Lew Frederick - OR Senate District 22

Representative Paul Holvey - OR House District 08

Representative Courtney Neron - OR House District 16

Representative Dan Rayfield - OR House District 16