NEW DIRECTOR HOPES TO GET FISH AND WILDLIFE BALL ROLLING

July 20, 2001 11:00 pm
Lindsay Ball ().
Lindsay Ball ().

By Ray Linker

Observer Staff Writer

The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission, holding a monthly meeting in La Grande Friday, named interim director Lindsay Ball of Scio to a two-year term as director of the department.

Ball, a captain with the Oregon State Police, has been acting director since Feb. 16, when Jim Greer resigned. The appointment must be confirmed by the state Senate and approved by the governor.

Ball has been with the OSP for 25 years, including the last eight as captain of the Fish and Wildlife Division of OSP. He has a bachelor of science degree in wildlife science from Oregon State University.

Commission chairman Paul N. McCracken said that a nationwide search for a director resulted in 29 applicants being narrowed to a field of five. One of those withdrew, and the four remaining went through an exhaustive interview process.

McCracken praised Balls demonstrated love and passion for protecting the resource and for providing optimum use for the citizens of Oregon.

Ball, 48, said the appointment is quite a moment for me personally and professionally.

Ball said he wanted to focus on the future, what were going to do as a commission, a department and a state, so people will look back and say we did the right thing.

He said he worked seasonally with the OSP from 1972 to 1975, went to work permanently in 1975 with the agency and them became Fish and Wildlife Division director in 1993.

Ball held OSP seasonal positions in Tillamook, Astoria, Newport, Gilchrist and Summer Lake, then worked permanently in Portland in the patrol division.

In the Fish and Wildlife Division, he worked as a field officer, a sergeant and lieutenant in John Day, St. Helens, The Dalles and Baker City.

When Ball, who has spent the last seven years as a member of the ODFWs executive leadership team, was named interim director, the commission cited his good communication with legislators, his knowledge of Oregons fish and wildlife issues and his long experience working with ODFW employees as key reason for selecting him.

Conservation of fish and wildlife is his top priority, Ball said.

I look at conservation as a means to utilize without exploiting fish and wildlife resources, he said.

Also interviewed for the position were Jack Payne of Springfield, Mo., Stephen Sanders of Lake Oswego, and Greg Block of Montreal Quebec, Canada.

RELATED STORY

By The Observer

The recent announcement that the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife would use the excess of returning hatchery salmon to feed the poor is unprecedented, newly appointed director Lindsay Ball told the Fish and Wildlife Commission meeting here Friday.

An agreement that will help the 140,000 adult coho become the main course for half a million people is the best solution and puts the fish on the tables of the people in need, Ball said.

The spring chinook and coho runs will be distributed as fillets through the Oregon Food Bank to more than 700 food-share organizations across the state.

Oregon is one of the most needy states in terms of food for the hungry, Ball said.

In 1999, the U.S. Department of Agriculture ranked the state as sixth in the nation in terms of food insecurity and first in the nation for hunger, according to ODFW.

Ed Bowles of the ODFW staff told the commission meeting at the Blue Mountain Conference Center that there would be no cost to the department for providing the fish to the food bank.

For the right to market the fish- production byproducts in international markets, American/Canadian Fisheries of Bellingham, Wash., will provide all staff and equipment at no charge, Bowles reported.

The company will process the fish according to federal food-handling guidelines, expecting to produce this fall about 400,000 pounds of frozen vacuum-packed fillets ready for grilling, baking or pan-frying. Ball finalized the contract with the company Wednesday.

We have an opportunity to feed Oregon citizens in need after we have allowed a maximum harvest of these fish by sport and commercial interests, Ball said. And we are going to accomplish this while adhering to the Endangered Species Act and protecting our listed fish species.

Hatchery-bred coho are not listed under the ESA.

The expected 1.7 million hatchery coho returning to Oregon waters for sport and commercial fishing season this year is more than double the return in 2000, ODFW officials said.

Coho are just one of several types of salmon that return from the ocean to the states rivers. The return rate has increased, according to ODFW, because of favorable ocean conditions, combined with improved freshwater habitat conditions for juveniles.

Besides benefiting needy families, the salmon abundance will afford anglers many more opportunities to fish, with more liberal seasons and limits.

Biologists said that ODFW would still be able to sell about 40,000 hatchery coho and fall chinook to the seafood industry during a competitive bid process. About 17,000 carcasses of fish that become unfit for human consumption will be placed in Oregon streams to benefit fish habitat and the aquatic food web, the biologists said.