Marine Board to consider Chetco motor ban

The Oregon State Marine Board is set to decide Wednesday in Lincoln City whether to sidestep advice from its own staffers and ban outboard motors on driftboats along a 10-mile stretch of the Chetco River.

A Marine Board staff report calls the motor-ban request from a consortium of bank anglers an "overreaching measure" to settle conflicts between boat and bank anglers during the river's winter steelhead season.

The staff report recommends that the five-member Marine Board reject the motor ban petition on driftboats because there is no justification for a motor ban based on safety, congestion or property-rights concerns.

The Marine Board was set to decide on the proposal in June but failed to have a quorum because board Chair Val Early, who is a fishing guide based on the Chetco, recused herself on the issue as a potential conflict of interest.

Some bank anglers 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.

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

"The proposed prohibition may be an overreaching measure in response to what appears to be a three-month fishing-style conflict, " the report states. "The river is more crowded than in the past, and the conditions that the petitioners seek — a quiet, peaceful, uncrowded experience — is not realistic as long as the fishing on the river is productive and promoted."

The staff petition 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.

The petition seeks 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.

Rain, wind hampers elk hunters

Like their deer-hunting brethren two weeks ago, South Cascades' elk hunters suffered from too much of a good thing as heavy rains and stiff winds shortened days in the woods, according to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Strong winds during last Saturday's opening day seemed to make the Roosevelt elk hunker down, while hunters were pushed out of high-elevation areas due to concerns about falling trees, ODFW biologists say.

Those who did venture deep into elk territory got so wet so fast that many reported not logging as many hours in the woods as in normal years, says Dan Etheridge, ODFW's assistant Rogue District wildlife biologist, who checked hunters and hunting camps last weekend.

"They didn't stick around to hunt the afternoon," Etheridge says. "They went to dry off. With this weather, we expected success to be better. But it seems like it was too much of a good thing."

Similar weather slowed the Oct. 1-2 opening of the black-tailed buck deer season for rifle hunters, but success picked up dramatically after that storm ebbed. The general season for bull elk hunting, however, is only seven days long, and most hunters get the chance to go afield only on opening weekend, Etheridge says.

— 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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