WASHINGTON (CN) – The National Marine Fisheries Service will designate critical habitat for threatened populations of the lower Columbia River coho salmon and Puget Sound steelhead, according to an advance notice of proposed rule making released by the agency.
The agency is considering protecting areas in southwest Washington, northwest Oregon, and the Washington watersheds Puget Sound and the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
The agency listed the lower Columbia River Coho salmon as threatened in 2005 and the Puget Sound steelhead as threatened in 2007. Critical habitat was not designated at the time of listing because the recovery planning process for the two species had already begun.
In addition to public meetings in January and February, the agency is seeking written public comments regarding the habitat needs of the two species.
Specifically the agency is interested in comments on the economic impact of a critical habitat designation and on the importance of areas not currently occupied by the species.