Keizer man provides leadership for angler/conservation org.

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Jim Zalenka with a recent catch. (Submitted)

By G.I. Wilson
For the Keizertimes

To refer to Jim Zelenka as just another volunteer, is like calling Superstorm Sandy just another weather disturbance.

Zelenka is currently serving his third term as president of the Capitol Chapter of the Northwest Steelheaders Association. Prior to becoming president, he served on the board of directors, as vice-president and treasurer. In 2011, he served on the association board–in Portland–as membership director. In August, he became secretary for the association.

As president of the Capitol Chapter, he has three major goals:

General education: On fishing opportunities, how to fish and issues involved in fishing, including more fishing opportunities.

Social events: Involving steelheaders and families. A picnic is planned each summer. A Christmas potluck for families has become popular. The chapter has become one of the sponsors for an annual Steelheaders summer rendezvous for all chapters at Foster Reservoir.

Project: To improve fishing opportunities. The chapter has adopted Minto County Park on the North Santiam River. There is an annual spring clean-up and enhancement of trails. New benches have been constructed. New picnic tables will be installed in the spring. Another clean-up takes place at North Santiam State Park, site of the club’s summer picnic.

A new project for the association this year was the River Ambassador Program.

Steelheaders provided a three-day fishing retreat for the Wounded Warriors program. Wounded warriors from Ft. Lewis/McCord were brought to a ranch in Central Oregon for three days of fishing experiences.

A long-term project is working with the city of Salem and Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife to mitigate mortality of steelhead and salmon smolts coming over Upper Bennett Dam on the North Santiam.

The Capitol Chapter engineered plans for a new disabled platform at popular Cascade Park on Walter Wirth Lake in Salem.

All of these projects could not take place without the various fund raisers held by local chapters. Great prizes are offered through raffles and other fund raisers.

Providing leadership for a wide range of volunteers is most certainly a challenge. A challenge that Jim Zelenka has embraced, and is obviously good at.

The Capitol Chapter Steelheaders meets the third Thursday of the month (except July and August) at Keizer Community Center, 7 p.m..  They have excellent programs and visitors are welcome. For more information call: 503-580-0688.

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