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Post on the Spokesman Review and UPDATED: Thu., Dec. 5, 2019

Article by Adam Shanks /  (509) 459-5136

A 12-foot redband trout has washed up on the banks of the Spokane River, and it’s here to stay.

Advocates for a healthy Spokane River gathered in Peaceful Valley on Wednesday to celebrate the installation of a newly commissioned sculpture of one of the river’s few remaining native species.

Dubbed Redband Rising, the sculpture will greet visitors as they enter Redband Park, which was known as Glover Field until 2017. During the winter, interpretive information will be installed along the new plaza to educate park guests on the fish and its habitat – which winds through the center of Spokane.

“It’s a great day for us to celebrate the river, celebrate awareness of the native redband trout, and it kind of speaks to all the things we believe in,” said Otto Klein, senior vice president of the Spokane Indians baseball club, which has spearheaded a public campaign for a cleaner Spokane River and to protect the redband trout.

The sculpture, designed and built by artist Chris Anderson, is the crown jewel of a multi-faceted effort to rebuild and renovate the park in a way that honors the river adjacent to it. The park now features the sculpture, a renovated Little League baseball field, and a raft and paddle launch.

The work is a byproduct of Redband Rally, a partnership formed in 2017 between the Spokane Indians baseball team, the city of Spokane and the Spokane Tribe of Indians to raise awareness about the iconic fish and its struggle for survival in an ever-changing habitat.

That grew into the creation of the Redband Rally Fund through a partnership with the baseball team and the Innovia Foundation, which raises funds for projects such as the fish sculpture at Redband Park. The sculpture cost $23,000 to create. Including the entire plaza that surrounds it, the project required an investment of $115,000.

“We’re going to help fund these different projects and it’s going to keep going,” Klein said.

The sculpture matches the fish depicted in the campaign’s logo, which players wear on their hats when wearing alternate uniforms. The team even created a new mascot, Ribby the Redband Trout.

The Redband Rally Fund is managed by a team that includes the Spokane River Forum, which advocates for the redband because it’s one of the last remaining native species in the river. The redband has existed for thousands of years, but is now classified by the Department of Fish and Wildlife as a “species of concern.”

“It’s struggling to survive,” said Andy Dunau, executive director of the Spokane River Forum.

The name is quite literal. The fish grows to 10 inches or more in length and is defined by the red band that runs down its side.

The redband trout is an important species for many reasons, not the least of which is that it’s a “biological indicator” that reflects the overall health of the river, said Casey Flanagan, water and fish manager for the Spokane Tribe of Indians.

Before the park’s name was changed last year, the city conducted a community outreach campaign to garner feedback on the proposal to honor the fish.

“Overwhelmingly, it was positive,” said Garrett Jones, interim director of Parks and Recreation.

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