Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Oyster River Enhancement Society, Old Men of the Hatchery

We are just regular, mainly retired, men and women who want to give something back to the world that we may have used during our working years. Some of us were loggers, fishermen, salespeople, mill workers or military people. Some enjoyed hunting and fishing as pastimes who took our fair share and maybe even more, never worrying that we ought to leave some for our grand kids. Now we understand the damage we may have caused and work towards righting some of the environmental woes we were part of. I am one of these people; semi retired, exlogger who did more than my share of damage to Mother Earth. I am now trying to raise awareness of the damages we humans continue to do to the world and attempt to demonstrate by doing, how we all might be able to assure that our grand kids have a salmon to catch some day. The Oyster River Enhancement Society has a membership of over 300 and an active volunteer group of over 50 members who show up every Tuesday to do what needs to be done. We have been led by Frank and Jitka Petrezuelka for about 18 years. They are now leaving to live a quieter lifestyle, get some rest and enjoy some new freedom. This has been a full time job for these "retired" managers. They will be tough people to replace when we think of what they have accomplished these past many years. With the help of many volunteers Frank has overseen tremendous growth of natural spawning channels that the fish use naturally. Working with limited budgets and grants from Pacific Salmon Foundation as well as donations from local businesses and private individuals, priority infrastructure has been added where needed. Much of the success of the hatchery has been due to Frank's easy management style. Most years the hatchery has released more than 2 million salmon fry to the river. This is not counting many times more than that that have spawned naturally in the river and side channels. It is more difficult to manage volunteers than a paid work force. Employees can be told what to do where volunteers have to be coaxed. Jitka never forgets a birthday and always has a smile and a hug of support for all. She has been Frank's right hand man for years and is dedicated to the fish and volunteers. She has filed many of the grant applications for specific projects.
I know it will not be easy to replace Frank and Jitka. I looked at the wood carving of the "Old Man of the Sea" and think we ought to have one for the fish. If we could design a memorial, I believe it could be a carving of Frank and Jitka and be titled "The Keepers of the Salmon".
I look forward to the next few years volunteering at ORES and know that there are still many other members who have been devoted to the Oyster River Salmon for a long time that will help our new manager as he comes up to speed. Lyle has big boots to fill and there will always be the ghost of Frank looking over his shoulder.
Thanks for all you have accomplished, Frank and Jitka. The Oyster River is alive and well because of your able direction. We hope you come for a visit once in a while. We are going to miss you.

Bob Scriba

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