Free festival celebrates Columbia River sturgeon


August 29, 2018

The Columbia River ecosystem and its primitive inhabitant, the sturgeon, will be honored in Vancouver on Saturday, Sept. 15, at the 22nd Annual Sturgeon Festival.

The free, one-day festival runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Water Resources Education Center, 4600 S.E. Columbia Way in Vancouver. The festival is hosted by the City of Vancouver in partnership with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

While sturgeon have top billing, the popular festival features a variety of entertaining and educational activities for all ages. Special events include a live reptile show, two live bird shows, Eartha the Ecological Clown, and – from 3-4 p.m. – a group walk to the Columbia River.

WDFW will also dissect several species of fish to give festivalgoers an understanding of the sturgeon’s unique anatomy. For a schedule of events, see

Prevalent in the Columbia River, the sturgeon is a primitive fish that has not changed substantially since it emerged millions of years ago. Sturgeon are a long-lived species, reaching five to six feet in length by the age of maturity. A few sturgeon in the Columbia River have been verified to be over 80 years old.

Portion of Columbia will close to steelhead fishing

Starting Monday, anglers must release any steelhead they intercept on a large portion of the Columbia River under a new emergency rule adopted by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

The new rule, prompted by a sharp decline in projected returns of upriver summer steelhead, will be in effect until further notice from Buoy 10 at the mouth of the Columbia River to Highway 395 in Pasco.

Ryan Lothrop, Columbia River fishery coordinator for WDFW, said monitoring at Bonneville Dam now indicates that 110,300 upriver steelhead will return to the Columbia this year, down from 182,400 fish projected before the fishing season began.

The new projection is similar to the number of steelhead that returned last year, when fishery managers from Washington and Oregon closed steelhead fishing in the Columbia and many of its tributaries.

Although the new emergency rule does not close fisheries in area tributaries, that may be necessary in the weeks ahead, Lothrop said.

“Many factors are clearly taking a toll on our steelhead populations right now, including difficult ocean conditions,” he said. “We need to do what’s necessary to protect these runs.”

WDFW recently prohibited fishing for salmon or steelhead at night to protect steelhead in the same waters of the Columbia River that will close to all steelhead fishing.

That “night closure” will remain in effect from Buoy 10 to Pasco, and at the Wind River and Drano Lake, two tributaries of the Columbia River.

Lothrop said WDFW will continue to monitor the summer steelhead returns as the season progresses.

The new emergency fishing rule is posted on WDFW’s website at


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