will decide if coho salmon should be protected
on June 25.
By Liz Bowen,
Assistant Editor, Pioneer Press, Fort Jones,
SISKIYOU COUNTY, CALIFORNIA – On June 7,
the listing of the Oregon coastal coho salmon
to the federal Endangered Species Act was
But on June 25, the Northern California
coho may be listed to the California
Endangered Species Act.
When it comes to coho salmon and the
Endangered Species Acts, confusion reigns
SOSS, the Save Our Shasta and Scott Valleys
and Towns coalition, has feared that extreme
regulations will endanger viable agriculture
in Siskiyou County. SOSS joined Farm Bureau,
Cattlemen, California Timber Association,
Granges and other groups to try and stop the
listing to the California Endangered Species
Act (ESA). They advocated using true data and
correct science; even hiring an accredited
fish biologist and water law attorney.
After three long years, the final decision
is expected this Friday, June 25. It will be
made by the California Fish and Game
Commission in Crescent City.
Much has occurred during the last three
* Many leaders in SOSS and Siskiyou County
have learned that politics has had the upper
* A devastating drought in 2001 brought a
water shortage crisis for both farmer and
* The appointment of Bob Hattoy, a Sierra
Club advocate, to the state Fish and Game
* The recall of Governor Gray Davis, a
* The election of Arnold Schwarzenegger, a
Republican, to the office of governor;
* The implementation of a little used
Department of Fish and Game code, which
allowed one year to create a Recovery Strategy
Plan for coho;
* Delaying tactics from various state
agencies and groups;
* The appointment of Marilyn Hendrickson to
the Fish and Game Commission on March 17,
2004. She was appointed by Governor Arnold and
approved by the state senate. Hendrickson
replaced the only other Republican on the
commission, who was Mike Chrisman.
* Governor Arnold appointed Mike Chrisman
as secretary of the California Resources
* The decision by the Fish and Game
Commission on Feb. 4, 2003 to accept the
Recovery Strategy Plan, even though SOSS, Farm
Bureau, Cattlemen, California Grange, timber
and other groups testified that the
regulations would be too strict and result in
* Federal ESA listing on the Oregon coast
for coho salmon overturned on June 7.
With the Feb. 4, 2004 commission vote on
the recovery plan, the legal process for
listing the coho with the California ESA was
kicked back into the normal flow of things.
In late February, the decision to list the
coho was published in the California Register.
Then a public comment period of nearly four
months opened, which is followed by the
"adoption" hearing. It is scheduled on the
Fish and Game Commission’s regular meeting
agenda this Friday. "Adoption" means the ESA
law will actually be amended to include the
coho, if the commission votes that direction.
The meeting will be held at Elk Valley
Rancheria, 2500 Howland Hill Road, in Crescent
Decisions and regulations regarding coho
have been in limbo for nearly six years, since
the National Marine Fisheries Service, which
is now called NOAA Fisheries, listed the
Southern Oregon and Northern California coho
to the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA).
In 2001, advocacy environmental non-profit
groups petitioned the California Fish and Game
Commission to list the coho with the
Meanwhile, many agricultural-type groups
began working to stop the California listing
and to reverse the federal ESA listing.
On June 7, the Ninth Circuit Court of
Appeals issued the mandate that effectively
ended litigation in the Alsea Valley Alliance
v. NOAA Fisheries case.
The Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF) led the
litigation. It is a non-profit group started
Back in September of 2001, Judge Michael R.
Hogan declared the NOAA Fisheries’ 1998 ESA
listing of the Oregon coast coho invalid. The
basis for the decision involved the counting
In NOAA Fisheries’ counting, the federal
agency only estimated the numbers of wild fish
and did not include those coho grown in
hatcheries. There has been disagreement by
scientists regarding the genetics of wild and
hatchery fish. The judge ruled that there is
no genetic difference between the two. Since
Judge Hogan’s decision, the advocacy enviro
groups fought to overturn his ruling.
today, (June 7,) the Oregon coast coho listing
doesn’t exist," said Russell Brooks, the
Pacific Legal Foundation attorney that
represented Alsea Valley Alliance in the
lawsuit against NOAA Fisheries.
Since June 7, NOAA officials have said they
may reopen the coho listing determination,
which means they are still seeking to list the
Oregon Coastal coho with the ESA.