Affiliate of the Week: The Association of Northwest Steelheaders

In honor of our 80th Anniversary celebration throughout 2016, the National Wildlife Federation is recognizing each of our Affiliate Partners in a special “Affiliate of the Week” blog series that showcases the dedicated conservation efforts taking place across the country each day. This week we celebrate our Oregon affiliate, the Association of Northwest Steelheaders, and their commitment to wildlife.

Who We Are

Now one of the oldest and most-cherished conservation and fishing advocacy groups in the Pacific Northwest, the Association of Northwest Steelheaders was founded in 1960. The Steelheaders mission involves anglers dedicated to enhancing and protecting fisheries and their habitats for today and tomorrow. They focus on responsible and enjoyable sport angling with good access to healthy, abundant and sustainable fisheries in the Northwest’s watersheds.

What We Do

Being around for over 55 years, they fit themselves into nearly any conversation that has to do with salmon and steelhead in the Northwest. For that reason, they work on an array of issues that benefit sportanglers in the state. They keep themselves very busy managing 12 chapters in Oregon and SW Washington and facing the challenges from ecosystem threats and modifications.

Not only do they have a dedicated staff but their board members contribute extensively in the pursuit of their mission. With their enormous volunteer base, they collectively contribute over 30,000 volunteer hours annually to better fish and wildlife resources in their region. Here are some of the programs to which they are currently strongly committed:

  • Fisherman
    Chinook salmon from an Oregon stream. Photo by the Northwest Steelheaders

    Protecting Oregon’s forests for fish – Oregon has an incredible forest legacy that is largely managed for the timber industry. Timber jobs are as important as fishing jobs, so the Association of Northwest Steelheaders ensures the social benefits of healthy runs of fish are inserted into the conversation. State managed forests make up over 800,000 acres and are mandated to provide an array of ecosystem benefits to its citizens.

  • Investing in the Nutrient Enrichment Program – This program utilizes excess hatchery fish to provide nutrients in under-nourished forest ecosystems. It’s another way in which members can give back.
  • Ensuring adequate flow and water quality for fish – Water will be the war of the future, if it isn’t already. The Steelheaders continue to see consistent attempts to grab water from many of the fish bearing streams in Oregon; and they, along with a select group of other conservation organizations will continue to fight for instream water rights that act as “pastureland” for wild and hatchery fish.
  • Recovering fish stocks – The Steelheaders have worked for two decades to help recover the 13 listed stocks of salmon and steelhead in the Columbia River Basin. They’re joining conservation partners for the fourth time in federal court, fighting for adequate flow and spill regimes that have proven benefits to the recovery of these listed stocks.
  • Happy Family Fish Camp participant. Photo by Michael O’ Leary

    Investing in the future of our natural resources – The Steelheaders continue to recruit new anglers to join in on fun activities and to promote restoration. Along with the numerous events partnering with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Steelheaders also completed their first Family Fish Camp in February. It was a resounding success, growing their membership and reaching future advocates for fish.

  • Teaching valued veterans the value of the outdoors – Their River Ambassador Program has helped many veterans learn to enjoy the outdoors. It’s a great way to give back to those that have served our country.
  • Identifying the true cost of coal – The Steelheaders are working hard to keep the destructive oil and coal industry from gaining a foothold along their valued waterways. With the history of oil spills and the accumulation of coal dust along rivers, this industry simply has no place as a growth industry in Oregon if salmon and steelhead runs are to successfully recover. The Steelheaders continue to push back against the siting of coal and oil terminals along our beloved Columbia River.

Making a National Impact

The Steelheaders work to protect local bodies of water. Photo by the Northwest Steelheaders

Since water is such an integral part of the Steelheaders’ heritage in the Pacific Northwest, the organization has long valued the relationships and dialogue that the National Wildlife Federation has in the nation’s Capital. The Steelheaders’ law-makers are able to relay the importance of their natural resources to their constituents because NWF continues to bring valued voices into the conversation.

The Waters of the United States initiative was a huge success for fish and wildlife in our nation, giving headwater systems the protections they need to ensure water quality for the abundant fish and wildlife throughout the watershed. The National Wildlife Federation made this initiative relevant at the national level and the Northwest’s natural resources will reap the benefit for generations to come.

The Steelheaders also partner with NWF on strategy to change the way the nation consumes energy from gas, oil and coal resources. With a strong presence at the national level, the Steelheaders rely on the Federation to help build important relationships both locally and nationally.

Get Involved

Join us as a member or a participant in one of our many events such as the 2016 Salmon Quest to be held Saturday, April 2nd (Get tickets here). See for more information on activities throughout the year.

Connect with the Steelheaders

Connect with the Association of Northwest Steelheaders to get their latest news and keep up with their conservation efforts through Facebook or by visiting their website.