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Know the West

Tee off for salmon


When Ed and Janice Hopper bought a 27-hole golf course at the base of Oregon's Mount Hood in 1989, they dreamed of coho and steelhead salmon swimming in the small stream that runs through the course.

More than 100 years ago, the fish were there in the Wee Burn, a tributary of the wild and scenic Salmon River. Then, irrigation ponds, built when the golf course was created, damaged spawning areas, and the fish disappeared.

The Hoppers started a stream and fish restoration program in 1995, with the help of Wolftree, a nonprofit river restoration organization, the Mount Hood National Forest and more than $200,000 in grants. Then, aided by hundreds of volunteers, from schools to conservation groups such as Trout Unlimited, they rerouted the Wee Burn. They put in twists and turns, built natural fish ladders and transplanted sedge, cut willow and rushes on the stream banks.

Wild fish began the journey up the Wee Burn last year, but were stopped by muddy water in places where the restoration wasn't complete. Next year, the hope is that fish make it far enough up the stream to lay eggs and start the ancient cycle that keeps spawning fish returning to the same tributary year after year.

"We will celebrate the return of the fish," says Ed Hopper. "We want to educate our golfers about the restoration."

Copyright © 2000 HCN and Dennis Cleary