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BANDON — Have you been following the salmon stream? It's all part of the Big Fish Vision that's been swimming around Bandon all summer. 

Salmon thrived and evolved in the Pacific Northwest for millions of years, in and out of ice ages, according to information provided by Big Fish Vision project director Vicki Affatati from www.salmonsafe.org. For over 10,000 years, the native people prospered and thrived because of salmon and the commerce they created. Salmon provided a platform for the settlement of communities along the rivers long before Oregon became a state.

More than 100 salmon-related paintings were completed by Bandon students as part of the Big Fish Vision project. The paintings are in the Boar…

"Cannery records from the past show returns of millions of local salmon, contrasting sharply with current data," Affatati said. "We have learned the impact of human activity on salmon habitat can greatly reduce water quality."

The intention of the Big Fish Vision is to bring awareness through public art to the remaining population of wild Pacific Northwest salmon and the waters that they and other animals share in the Southern Oregon Coast region.

This multifaceted project, created by children, adult novices and professional artists has offered many local people a chance to participate in creating public art for Bandon.

This spring, Ocean Crest students, along with Affatati, artist-in-residence, crafted a salmon stages mural. Three senior students from Trent Hatfield’s science class gave a PowerPoint presentation about salmon to each of the Ocean Crest classrooms followed by Affatati leading an art project, which students then contributed to the paper mural. The mural can be seen now at the Southern Coos Hospital art show, “Fish and Other Swimmers."

Additionally, this year’s town wide project, the Big Fish, involves 22 plywood cutouts that were designed by Affatati and BHS student intern Autumn Davis. The 4-foot fish were painted by preschoolers, teens and adult artists, as well as four members of the Coquille Tribe. Artists used a variety of styles and materials and each fish is unique.

In an attempt to bring public art beyond Old Town and bring awareness to local merchants, Big Fish were placed south of Bandon at the sculpture shop Something Awesome, one at A Little Bite Mexican Restaurant near the post office and as far north to Rancho Viejo Restaurant, with many placed at locations in between. The “Follow the Salmon Stream” brochure is available in local shops with a list of where each Big Fish can be found.

This year’s Port of Bandon Boardwalk Art Show is "Salmon Dreams, Marshes and Streams" and displays almost 100 student paintings. Affatati worked with Harbor Lights middle school students and Jen Ells offered her high school art students a chance to participate. Coming soon, there will be a giant salmon windsock hanging over the boardwalk show. It was designed and painted by Billieray Ward, Sylvia Gaittan, Vicki Affatati, and sewn by seamstress, Julia Chase.

This year, as a gift to the Bandon Old Town Marketplace's new food court, Affatati painted an original mural depicting the wild skies of Bandon and the old style Bandon Lighthouse. Lori Osborne donated the mural substrate and materials for the windsock.

As part of the collaborative Big Fish Vision, Darcy Grahek, OSU Extension Master Naturalist, will give a talk at 7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 2, at Bullards Beach amphitheater about the function of the Coquille watershed as the nursery that produces salmon runs of coho, Chinook and steelhead.

The Bandon Public Library continues its Big Fish Vision series of events with workshops and talks being presented by native studies expert Brenda Brainard, Wild Rivers Coast Alliance and Wild Rivers Land Trust this summer and fall.

"Salmon survival depends on how we manage their remaining habitat, from the top of the mountain to the gravel in the stream beds," Affatati said.

An Instagram account, bigfishvision has updates on the project.

Funding from The Ford Family Foundation, Coos County Cultural Coalition, Coquille Tribal Community Fund, Bandon Professional Center, as well as donations of volunteer time and supplies have made this project possible. Student interns were supported through a grant from the Wild Rivers Coast Alliance.

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