The “U DA MAN Fishing Tournament” folks were back at it this last weekend, throwing old Christmas trees around like they belonged in a slough, or something. Well, they do. It is only right and proper that they be slung about the countryside (mostly in the Yaquina River) near Cannon Quarry Park, right off Elk City Road.
The U Da Man volunteers team up every year with Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, the MidCoast Watersheds Council and Wetlands Conservancy to conduct the annual “Christmas for Coho” project in the Yaquina River. Seventeen volunteers deliberately, if not smartly, placed about 175 recycled Christmas trees in the Yaquina River, Mill Creek and several feeder streams to improve habitat for growing young coho smolts. Once in place, the trees provide cover from predators as well as provide shade to keep the slough water cool for optimal growth of the fish.
Modeled after a successful Christmas tree recycling program on the Necanicum River in Clatsop County, the recycled trees provide temporary habitat and protection for small Coho, Chinook and Steelhead smolts from cormorants and other predators that feed heavily on the tiny fish as they swim their way from their spawning grounds of the Yaquina River, and its tributaries, to the Pacific Ocean. Providing cover and habitat for the smolts also allows them to feed more aggressively and grow larger as they make their way down stream. It is hoped that by providing enhanced habitat for the smolts they will eventually swim out to sea larger and stronger so that more will survive to return in a few years to the delight of fishers all up and down the Central Coast, providing a big economic shot in the arm for the Central Coast economy.
Members of the U DA MAN group were joined by volunteers from the Longview Hills Fishing Club, Central Coast Fly Fishers, students from Newport High School, ODFW and other community members. Special thanks goes out to Dahl’s Disposal Company of Toledo and Lincoln County Parks for their help in collecting and storing the trees, as well as providing volunteers a location to conduct this project.