By Erin Maxson January
groups want Klamath River salmon
listed as Endangered Species
KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. - One of Southern Oregon's iconic symbols
may soon receive more federal protection.
On Thursday, four environmental organizations submitted a
petition to the National Marine Fisheries Service to place
Klamath River spring Chinook salmon under the Endangered Species
Last year, spring Chinook runs on the Rogue River had their best
returns in four-years. However, biologists say spring Chinook
runs on the Klamath River are experiencing extremely low
"As they've looked at these different runs along the West Coast,
they've said pretty clearly that the salmon in the Rogue River
are different from the salmon in the California Coast, which are
also distinct from the fish in the Upper Klamath Basin," said
Scott Grearen with the Environmental Protection Information
The petitioning groups include Petitioners Center for Biological
Diversity, Oregon Wild, Environmental Protection Information
Center, and The Larch Company. They contend that the Klamath
River spring Chinook are on the edge of extinction because of
severe environmental impacts. They say dams, logging and disease
have decimated their numbers in the past century, and continue
to hurt their survival and growth.
Environmental groups contend that the Klamath Basin Restoration
Agreement, which would lead to the removal of four hydroelectric
dams on the Klamath River, would only be a start to solving
salmon population problems. However, under the KBRA, the removal
of the dams wouldn't take place until 2020. Supporters say that
the salmon need protection now.
"The protections that the Spring Chinook have at this point are
informal and voluntary," Grearen said.
Historically, spring runs of Chinook were more economically
important than fall runs, but that has since changed.
The NMFS is set to review the petition and its numbers, which
show a declining survival rate of spring Chinook on the Klamath