Protecting the coho

  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 listing.

" Shea Andersen

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