(OR) Gov't Cuts Back Pacific Salmon Habitat
Gov't Cuts Back Pacific Salmon Habitat
GRANTS PASS, Ore. (AP) - The federal government has cut back the critical
habitat for 19 species of threatened and endangered Pacific salmon, arguing
that an earlier designation demanded by environmentalists was poorly
executed and that voluntary habitat improvements will work better.
The move announced Friday reduces the miles of protected river in
Washington, Oregon, Idaho and California by 80 percent - from 167,700 miles
In those areas, activities such as logging, construction and livestock
grazing is restricted to avoid disturbing the stream beds where the salmon
migrate and spawn.
NOAA Fisheries, the federal agency responsible for bringing more than two
dozen salmon and steelhead species in the Northwest and California back from
the danger of extinction, agreed to revise the habitats after being sued by
the National Association of Home Builders for failing to include an economic
impact analysis when they were set.
The new designation includes only rivers salmon currently occupy, and it
identifies whether a portion of a river is used for spawning or just
migration, which will help in determining whether a nearby project could
harm the fish.
The designation also exempts rivers on Indian reservations, military bases,
private land with habitat conservation plans in force, and some urban areas
where the economic impact on the area's businesses would be too great.
The agency estimated the economic impact of the new habitat protections for
salmon at $282 million for the four states. No economic impact was listed
under the previous plan.
Bob Lohn, Northwest regional administrator for NOAA Fisheries, said
incentives for private landowners to restore and improve habitat would be
``I think the practical impact should be quite small,'' Lohn said.
Ernest Platt, chairman of the environmental committee of the
National Association of Homebuilders, noted that any development
would still have to comply with state and federal regulations
covering clean water, wetlands protection, and prohibiting direct
harm to salmon.
The designation of rivers critical to the future restoration of
salmon headed toward extinction is required under the Endangered
In the Northwest, the critical habitat designation covers streams flowing
into Puget Sound in Washington, the Columbia and Snake rivers and their
tributaries in Washington, Oregon and Idaho, and the Willamette River and
tributaries in Oregon.
In California it covers coastal streams from Humboldt County south to San
Clemente, the San Francisco Bay Area, the Sacramento River and tributaries,
and the lower San Joaquin River and tributaries.
Excluded areas include portions of greater Seattle, Portland, Pendleton and
the San Francisco Bay Area.
On the Net:
NOAA Fisheries: http://www.nwr.noaa.gov/1salmon/salmesa/crithab/CHsite.htm
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