Swimmers React to Fish Die-Off

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SPRINGFIELD, Ore. — An advisory to keep people out of the Willamette River from Island Park in Springfield to Alton Baker Park in Eugene has some swimmers and fishermen finding a different place to go. But, others said they’ll still be going in the river despite this advisory.

Many people out at the Willamette River Saturday have been enjoying this stretch of the waterway for years.

“I’m pretty experienced with it. I’ve fished it all my life, and I’ve guided on it for about 25 years, so I’ve spend quite a bit of time on it,” said Eugene resident Galand Haas.

That’s why he’s a bit surprised by a large amount of fish found dead in the river this week.

“Never heard of any kind of fish kills on it before and I can’t think of anything up here that would pollute the river that would cause a fish kill,” Haas said.

The Lane County Sheriff’s Office said many of the fish were found near the Mill Race and Willamette River at Island Park. It’s a pretty crowded part of the river on a day like this. “There’s quite a few and it’s a nice day and a lot of people out trying to catch fish,” said Haas.

“It’s a good day for a float, that’s for sure,” said Zach Ogborn.

But despite an advisory, warning swimmers to stay out of the water and fishermen to not eat any fish in this area, many said they’re not phased by the warning.

“It’s not necessarily okay to go, but the Willamette River has a lot of agricultural runoff, and it’s been that way for years and people still frequent the waters,” said Ogborn.

While others said they think it’s not that people don’t care about the warnings, but that they just don’t know.

“I would guess none of them know because I haven’t heard anything about it and I keep up on that stuff pretty well and I just haven’t heard anything about it,” Haas said.

But, to stay safe, some taking a dip in the river said they’ll be a bit more careful once they’re out of the river to make sure they don’t get sick.

“Take a shower, wash all of my gear, make sure I wash the rafts afterwards and I make sure not to drink the water when I’m in there,” said Ogborn.

The Department of Environmental Quality said it’s still investigating what caused this massive fish die-off.

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