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Science should rule, not thumbs

Public opinion should play a role, but not decide the bait-ban question

Thumbs are a fine measure of opinion at a public meeting. As science, though, they leave a lot to be desired.

It's the science that should rule come September, when the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission decides whether anglers can use bait each fall when they fish for summer steelhead in the upper Rogue River.

They haven't been able to for the four years since the commission banned bait, saying catch-and-release fishing for wild steelhead in late fall leads to too many fish dying before they spawn.

An almost completely new commission ' six of seven commissioners have joined the board since the ban ' has reopened the issue as it considers revising a host of angling regulations. At a White City meeting last week it asked an audience of almost 100 to show their thumbs if they supported removing the ban. Nearly all did.

Of course, all probably would have voted the same way four years ago. As one participant noted, no one has budged an inch on this issue since the ban was enacted.

That should be the commission's first clue that public opinion is no way to make the decision about bait.

— And what does the science say?

A state biologist told the audience in White City last week that his agency's opinion is that hook-and-release fishing with bait kills less than — percent of the run. Conclusions from studies elsewhere seem to reinforce that idea.

Bait-ban supporters have yet to be convinced, and it is clear the commission needs to look for more convincing evidence before it makes a change.

But that's the key: evidence.

Public opinion is often an important part of government decision-making. It should play a role here. But it shouldn't be the basis on which the Fish and Wildlife Commission makes a decision about whether fall anglers can use bait to fish for summer steelhead in the upper Rogue.

Thanks, Lindsay

Lindsay Berryman deserves the thanks of all the residents of Medford.

The city's first woman mayor has done a good job the past eight years. Now she has announced that she will not seek a third term.

She says the notion that new faces are the key to a growing and spirited community is correct. New thinking is infusing new energy, she says I think we need to do the same thing on our boards and commissions.

Berryman says she hopes to continue work on what she considers the major element in the effort to keep Medford healthy: the Bear Creek Master Plan, which enhances the 7&

189; miles in the Medford Bear Creek corridor. The plan would add a creekside plaza, boardwalks, a footbridge and habitat improvements to the corridor.

Many of the elements of that plan grew out of a vision process Berryman championed, in which residents were asked to describe what they wanted their city to look like in the future.

The stronger our downtown gets the stronger Medford gets, Berryman says.

With Berryman remaining a strong presence in the downtown business community and working for her goals downtown, we can't go too far wrong. Thanks, Lindsay, for all the hard work.