La Grande, Ore. It’s on the Grande Ronde River in Oregon’s northeast corner. And what a river it is. From its headwaters high in the Elkhorn Mountains, the upper river flows through deep basalt canyons and dense forest. Portions of it are only accessible by boat. The canyon widens and the middle reaches meander through the Grande Ronde Valley as it flows toward the high desert.
It’s big country, steep country and known for its rich fish and wildlife heritage. It’s reputation for fishing is unparalleled. Bull trout, rainbows, chinook and coho salmon and steelhead are part of life here.
And it’s just that part of life that John Appleton is concerned about. John and Anieta Appleton own Alpine Archery and Fly in La Grande. Their business exists to serve the local folks who love to hunt and fish here and the people who come from all over the world to experience the Grande Ronde country. They’re hunters and anglers themselves, and they’re concerned about the future of fish in their home water. Like John says, “Time has taught us that we can either have wild fish in the Grand Ronde or we can have dams on the Lower Snake. We can’t have both.”
The science is clear. The restoration of a free-flowing lower Snake River is essential to recovering wild Pacific salmon and steelhead in the basin. Clear too, is the history of salmon in the Snake. The salmon populations in the Snake and its tributaries were so abundant that in the 1950s, before the construction of the four lower Snake River dams, recreational anglers on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River could catch and keep up to two salmon a day over a season that stretched months. Now, those populations have declined over 90 percent. The fish that gave La Grande it’s connection to the landscape are all but gone.
La Grande is home for the Appletons. Their small business is a cornerstone in the community. But the cornerstone of the business is the Grande Ronde River itself. Wild fish and the people who come to pursue them are the lifeblood of this family-owned shop. That’s why John and Anieta stand with Trout Unlimited on the proposal to remove the Lower Four. Alpine Archery and Fly is a proud Trout Unlimited Business member.
Alpine Archery and Fly
La Grande, OR 97850