Agency Not Protecting Klamath Chinook

     WASHINGTON (CN) – Chinook salmon in the Upper Klamath and Trinity Rivers Basin are not threatened or endangered throughout their range, according to a finding by the National Marine Fisheries Service.
     The Center for Biological Diversity, Oregon Wild and the Larch Company petitioned the agency last year to list the salmon as either threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act.
     The groups’ petition requested protection first and foremost for spring-run chinook, once the most abundant run of Klamath chinook. Biologists now count between 300 to 3,000 wild-spawning spring chinook each year, the petition said.
     The petition offered two other alternatives for listing: both the spring and fall-runs of chinook or just listing the spring-run as a distinct species.
     The agency rejected all three options, finding, as it did in a 1998 review, that the risk of extinction to the population as a whole or the proposed sub-units was low over the next 100 years even though the current population is thought to be 10 percent of the historic level.
     The agency’s review of the petition was late and the petitioners announced in February that they intended to sue the agency to force it to make a determination about the listing status of the species.
     At that time, Noah Greenwald, the endangered species director at the Center for Biological Diversity said, “Klamath River chinook have suffered severe declines in the face of a century of dam building, logging, hatcheries, massive water withdrawal and pollution.”
     In response, the agency said that the salmon in the Upper Klamath and
     Trinity Rivers Basin “have persisted for several decades at relatively stable levels of abundance, despite the existence of these threats to freshwater habitat, and, therefore, it is unlikely that destruction or modification of habitat or curtailment of the species’ range will threaten its continued existence now or in the foreseeable future.”

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