In a long-awaited announcement, the National Marine Fisheries Service has proposed to list coho salmon as a threatened species in Oregon and California, though not in Washington.
"Pacific salmon are in
serious trouble," said regional fisheries director William Stelle,
in The Oregonian. "This is a wakeup call to the region." If listed
under the Endangered Species Act, the coho, which inhabits hundreds
of coastal streams, would join several stocks of chinook and
sockeye salmon already protected under the law. The designation
will not officially take place until next year, after public
comment ends in October, but it hangs heavy over a region only now
calming down from the spotted owl controversy.
Because coho habitat is largely on private property, many believe
its protection will best come from collaboration. "Recovery is not
going to be a government gig," says Bob Doppelt of the Pacific
Rivers Council. "We are going to do it from the bottom up or it is
not going to happen."
The decision not to list
Washington coho runs disturbed some conservationists, who say the
Fisheries Service caved in to developers and other special
interests. But Washington's Department of Fish and Wildlife and the
state's Indian tribes say the decision allows them to protect wild
coho runs through voluntary agreements between governments and
landowners. Federal representatives say Washington stocks are still
candidates for future