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(OR) Gov't Cuts Back Pacific Salmon Habitat

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  • Tim Hundsdorfer
    http://my.netscape.com/corewidgets/news/story.psp?cat=50201&id=2005081321540 001558489 Gov t Cuts Back Pacific Salmon Habitat GRANTS PASS, Ore. (AP) - The
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 15, 2005

      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
      to 33,300.

      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
      more effective.

      ``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

      Species Act.

      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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