Juvenile coho salmon that survived after much of the Rock Creek Hatchery was destroyed by the Archie Creek Fire this past month will be raised at the rearing facility at Eastwood Elementary School in Roseburg, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife announced Thursday afternoon.

The ODFW said in a news release that the juvenile coho, which survived after hundreds of thousands of juveniles were killed in the fire, will eventually be released in the spring as smolts in Cow Creek not far from Galesville Reservoir in southern Douglas County. The agency said close to 700 coho juveniles will be transferred.

Evan Leonetti, a fish biologist for ODFW, said the transfer was a good opportunity for the students at Eastwood to learn more about Oregon’s native salmon. In years past, students at the school had raised steelhead.

“This is a great outcome for the coho juveniles,” Leonetti said.

Tim Walters, the Umpqua Watershed manager with ODFW said the hatchery’s juvenile fish population prior to the Archie Creek Fire included an estimated 160,000 winter steelhead, 67,000 coho salmon, 29,000 rainbow trout and between 170,000 and 180,000 chinook salmon.

The juveniles, the agency said, survived in addition to 700 adult spring chinook and summer steelhead at Rock Creek. The adult fish were transferred to Cole Rivers Hatchery in Trail and are being spawned in an effort to meet Rock Creek’s production goals, the agency said.

Eastwood fifth grade teacher Camron Pope, who is involved with the school’s hatchery and the annual Umpqua Fish Enhancement Derby, said bringing the fish into the school’s facility is a way to contribute to the community during a time of need.

“Helping out our friends at ODFW is teaching our students the importance of community and how we all can lend a helping hand while also learning about fish,” he said.

The agency said Leonetti, along with staffers from the Rock Creek Hatchery, fin-clipped the coho Wednesday and will move them to Eastwood next week after a short observation period.

Jon Mitchell is a page designer, photographer and writer for The News-Review. He can be reached at 541-957-4214, or by email at jmitchell@nrtoday.com. Or follow him on Twitter @byJonMitchell.

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