Ask Greg Short what he does for a living and he won’t answer with the title of his job (maintenance manager at Heirloom Orchards). Instead he answers with his passion. “I’m a sportfisherman,” Short says. “It’s not a side hobby. It’s a huge part of my life.”
Last year, Short spent nearly 100 days fishing. Steelhead. Bass. Coho. Chinook. He has close to 80 fishing rods in his quiver, including one he used to fish for rainbow trout from the banks of Indian Creek and Hood River when he was 16. Short’s first memory was a powerful one: His parents took his fishing rod away “for throwing a tantrum and being a snot-nosed kid.” That memory, he suggests, may have set the trajectory of his life.
Short, now 51, grew up in Hood River, right behind Rosauers Supermarket, in a Sears catalog kit house erected in the middle of a pear and apple orchard. You can still buy groceries at Rosauers. But the orchard? It’s been replaced by houses, built to meet the needs of this idyllic Columbia River town’s burgeoning population.
Short knows this part of the world-famous Columbia River and its lands and waters better than anyone. He has spent thousands of days on the mighty river, or on the banks of its many tributaries.
This partly explains why, for the past 23 years, Short has served as a member of the Hood River Watershed Group, where he’s helped tackle and solve the myriad issues that arise when a great Cascade river runs through orchards, timberlands, a population center—and over a hydropower dam (which has since been removed). It isn’t easy, he’ll tell you, to bring together so many disparate groups and find common ground. Getting to agreement can be a slow, even a plodding process, but Short knows that the future of the natural world—and the fish runs he loves—very much lies with the people who care for it.
That kind of knowledge and insight makes him invaluable to Columbia Land Trust Stewardship Lead Kate Conley, who is charged with guiding the future of a three-mile stretch of land along the Hood River that we acquired last year. “When Greg talks, I listen,” Conley says. “He’s got the insider’s scoop on this special place, and his input helps ensure that our conservation decisions make sense for future generations—especially the future fishermen.”
Short doesn’t want his knowledge about the Hood River to be lost. “The rivers were my childhood,” he says. “It’s important to me that the public has access to the river—and that it’s managed in perpetuity for fish and wildlife.”