Marine Board sinks Chetco motor ban

The Oregon State Marine Board has turned down a request by some steelhead anglers to have outboard motors banned on a 10-mile portion of the Chetco River, saying clashes between boat and bank anglers there are a fishing issue and not a boating one.

The board voted 4-0 to deny the petition, but in its motion the board directed staff to bring stakeholders together to see whether there is a consensus path forward to address conflict on that section of the Chetco during the peak of the winter steelhead fishing season, board spokeswoman Ashley Massey says.

Board Chair Val Early, a Brookings-based fishing guide, recused herself from the vote.

Some bank anglers earlier this year petitioned the Marine Board for the ban to keep driftboats using small outboard motors from repeatedly motoring through holes on a popular stretch of the river during the winter steelhead season.

The petition sought to ban motors from the Forest Service boundary near a popular hole called Ice Box down to river mile 3.2, which is just downstream from a popular bank-fishing spot called Social Security Hole.

Opponents said motor bans exist throughout the remaining 46 miles of the Chetco, and the staff recommendation agreed with opponents who say the ban would be an improper solution to a clash in angling styles.

The staff report called the proposal "over-reaching" and also noted an opinion by an Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist that motors on driftboats pose no biological threat to wild steelhead during the December-through-March fishery.

PCTA gets big grant for growing organization

The Pacific Crest Trail Association has secured a grant of more than a quarter-million dollars to add a communications and marketing manager to help expand its volunteer program so more trail maintenance and other work can get done.

The Vancouver, Washington-based Murdock Charitable Trust has pledged $258,000 over the next three years to fund the new position in the growing association, PCTA Executive Director Liz Bergeron says.

The new hire will look to add and retain more volunteers along the 2,650-mile trail, which includes a stretch along the Cascades through Jackson County. That way, Bergeron says, more trail maintenance projects can get done "and we do a better job at fulfilling our mission," Bergeron says.

"It's to increase the number of our volunteers, our membership and do a better job of telling our story," Bergeron says of the Sacramento-based association.

Also, more work with private donors could grow the organization to a point where it can start purchasing private lands on or near the famed trail that runs from Mexico to Canada, Bergeron says.

Approximately 200 miles of the PCT is on private land.

The PCT has seen an explosion in use after Reese Witherspoon played a "thru-hiker" on the trail in the movie "Wild."

It takes the average thru-hiker about five months to walk the entire trail, according to the association.

— Reach Mail Tribune reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470 or mfreeman@mailtribune.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MTwriterFreeman.

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