Who We Are

Bill Bakke, Director of Science and Conservation


Bill Bakke has spent his life advocating for wild fish. He grew up fishing rivers and streams throughout Oregon and Washington. As an observant soul, he took notice of profound differences between hatchery-raised salmon, trout and steelhead and their native counterparts in the wild rivers and streams of his youth.


As Bill began seeing the effects of poor harvest and hatchery management, he was among the first conservation-oriented anglers to search the scientific literature behind those early observations, and advocate for changed practices before anyone who would listen. Bill continues that work to this day, more than 50 years after he began it.


Among his accomplishments and highlights, Bill worked for agencies such as the Columbia River Fisheries Council and the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission, founded several environmental groups aimed at native fish conservation, including Oregon Trout, the FishCons Coalition and the Native Fish Society. Bill has written over 100 articles on fish conservation for sporting, scientific and news journals and has been featured in books about salmon conservation including, A Common Fate by Joseph Cone, Song For The Blue Ocean by Carl Safina, and A River Lost by Blaine Harden. He has also appeared on national and international media including NOVA, NBC and the BBC. Bill established Oregon’s first wild fish management policy and led petitions to list Snake River Chinook, Oregon Coastal coho and Columbia River coho under the Federal Endangered Species Act.  Native Fish Society and its founder Bill Bakke were awarded the Carl R. Sullivan Fishery Conservation Award by the American Fisheries Society (AFS) in recognition of their pioneering work in the recovery and conservation of wild, native fish across the Pacific Northwest.


During his career, Bill Bakke has received the following recognition and awards:


California Trout, Inc. The prestigious Roderick Haig-Brown Conservation Award, 1979

Trout Unlimited. Award for Conservationist in Communication,1979

Isaac Walton League. Oregon Chapter, Golden Beaver Award, 1983

Clark-Skamania Fly Fishers. Conservationist of the Year Award for 1985

Leadership Award, Multnomah County, Oregon,1986

Western Division of American Fisheries Society Award of Merit, 1991

NW Steelheaders, Appreciation, 1992

Washington Trout, Inc. Conservationist of the Year Award, 1995

Clark-Skamania Fly Fishers. Conservationist of the Year Award for 1998

Metro Regional Governments. Stewardship Award, 1999

Honorary Membership. Flyfisher’s Club of Oregon, 2004

Life Time Award for Conservation Work, Federation of Fly Fishers, 2004

Conservation Award, Wild Steelhead Coalition, Seattle, WA, 2005

Conservation Award, Native Fish Society, Portland, OR, 2006

Federation of Fly Fishers Leopold Award, Livingston, Montana, 2013

American Fisheries Society Carl Sullivan Conservation Award 2015

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