Planting Babies: releasing Steelhead fry in Wychus Creek

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Tuesday was one of those days that makes you feel alive and involved. The weather was nice for a change and along with that was the chance to be involved in the planting of 8,000 Steelhead fry in Wychus Creek.

The event's, put together by the Bend-based Deschutes Basin Land Trust, drew volunteers and representatives of the U.S. Forest Service, Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, and Pacific Power. The goal was to plant the fry just upstream from Camp Polk Meadow and downstream as far as Alder Springs. A few years from now, the fish planted Tuesday will hopefully return as part of a renewed migration of steelhead to their home waters.

A dozen people took part in the planting effort. Four of us joined the Trust's Amanda Egertson to hike down a steep section of Wychus Canyon to plant 2,000 steelhead.

Time was of the essence. Once the fish were transferred from a holding tank on a truck to large plastic bags and the water in those bags oxygenated, we had about a half hour to get them into the stream.

That meant fast dash by car followed by a somewhat treacherous hike, fish bags in packs, down to the creek from the canyon's rim.

Once at the stream we let the fish rest in their jumbo baggies before slowly releasing them. Once released, the steelhead fry immediately swam into eddies and faced upstream.

Just seeing them alive and well was inspiring. As is the fact that more people are becoming involved in helping bring back Central Oregon's once fabled fish runs.


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