Department of Fish and Wildlife Records Guide
Agency History - 1878-1921
Appointed in 1878, the fish commissioner for the Columbia River was the earliest state official engaged in the regulation and protection of fish, wildlife, and forests. A three member Fish Commission responsible for regulating the commercial fish industry replaced the fish commissioner in 1887. With increasing interests in game and game fish, the Fish Commission was replaced by the fish and game protector in 1893. The responsibilities of the fish and game protector included the enforcing of game laws and regulating the commercial fish industry.
The fish and game protector was replaced by an act of the 1898 Legislative Assembly, which established the Board of Fish Commissioners. Members of the board included the governor, secretary of state, and a fish commissioner appointed as executive officer by the governor. This agency was replaced in 1901 by a Fish Commission composed of the governor, secretary of state, and state treasurer. The commission appointed a master fish warden as administrator and confined itself to the regulation of commercial fishing. The responsibility for enforcing game laws as well as forestry laws was now regulated by the game and forestry warden created in 1899. This arrangement remained unchanged for ten years.
Regulation of fish and game activities was not placed into a single agency until 1911 with the establishment of the Board of Fish and Game Commissioners. This board was authorized to appoint a master fish warden and a state game warden. In this same year, the Legislative Assembly created the State Board of Forestry consisting of the governor, the acting head of the Forest School of the Oregon State Agricultural College (Oregon State University), and five appointees. The creation of a Board of Forestry separated the function of forestry from that of fish and game.
The Board of Fish and Game Commissioners was reorganized in 1915 to consist of four appointees and the governor. In 1920 it was further enlarged to nine members, with eight selected by the Legislative Assembly and the ninth selected by the appointed eight. Part of the board was designated a Fish Commission and part a Game Commission. The 1921 Legislative Assembly abolished this board.