Friday, October 28, 2016

Federal agency proposes recovery plan for salmon, steelhead trout in Columbia and Snake rivers

Columbia and Snake rivers (Salmon Aid map)
The National Marine Fisheries Service on Thursday released a proposed recovery plan to protect chinook salmon and steelhead trout on the Snake and Columbia rivers in the Northwest, Keith Ridler reports for The Associated Press.

"In May, a federal judge in Portland ruled that the massive habitat restoration effort by the U.S. government doesn't do nearly enough to improve Northwest salmon runs, handing a major victory to conservationists, anglers and others who hope to someday see the four dams on the Snake River breached to make way for the fish," Ridler reports. "The judge ordered the government to come up with a new plan by March 2018."

Officials said changes need to be made in how dams are operated to improve migratory conditions for protected runs in Snake River, Ridler writes. They "also said habitat needs to be improved in tributaries where fish spawn and in the Columbia River estuary where young fish transition to ocean life."

"The Snake River and its tributaries in Idaho, Oregon and Washington state at one time supported more than half of the Columbia River basin's summer steelhead and more than 40 percent of the spring and summer chinook salmon," Ridler notes. "But in the 1990s the two runs were listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. The ultimate goal, managers say, is to have self-sustaining populations so the fish can be delisted, a move that could take 50 to 100 years." The estimated cost over the next 10 years just for habitat work is $139 million. (Read more)

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