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 The Pioneer Press, at the very top of the State of California, grants permission for this article to be copied and forwarded.
Pioneer Press, Fort Jones, California Wednesday, July 7, 2005 Vol. 32, No. 37 Page A1, column 1

State sued over coho

  SOSS joins timber, Grange, Cattlemen and cities.

By Liz Bowen
Pioneer Press Assistant Editor

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Those in the timber business cannot live with the
strangling regulations being implemented by the California Endangered
Species Act (ESA) over listed coho salmon. As a result, timber has led
the charge to sue the state and filed a lawsuit on June 28.

The lawsuit maintains that the California Fish and Game Commission and
the Department of Fish and Game failed to establish that the listing is

Forestry associations estimate the timber industry will lose an
additional $30 million over salmon regulations, with no true benefit to
protecting coho populations.

In Siskiyou County, Fruit Growers Supply Inc. estimates a loss of 20
percent of its useable land west of Interstate-5, due to the ESA

"The coho has already cost us $10 million," said Charlie Brown, an
official with Fruit Growers Supply. He was referring to stream buffers,
set asides, hikes in the 1600 permits and the expensive Incidental Take
Permits needed in coho areas.

Ironically, more than 1,500 adult coho salmon returned in abundance last
winter and swam to the further-most reaches of the Scott River and its
tributaries in Siskiyou County. More coho returned to Scott River than
the Iron Gate Hatchery on the Klamath River.

The lack of acknowledgement of new data information on coho numbers has been a frustration to many of the groups that are supporting a lawsuit
against the state. In fact, the California Department of Fish and Game
officials admitted that its scientific information is inadequate to
support a population analysis. But it is this population analysis, which
provides the core basis for listing a species.

SOSS, the Save Our Shasta and Scott Valleys and Towns coalition in
Siskiyou County, submitted extensive information on coho populations.

This information from the last five years was not utilized by the Fish
and Game Department employees in creating reasons for listing the coho
with the ESA. Other organizations, such as Grange and California Timber
Association also submitted quantities of additional coho population

Contrary to what many state residents believe, the timber business has
been changing its practices to aid salmon. Since the federal listing in
1997 of coho to the Endangered Species Act, California has instituted
significant regulations and resource managers have invested more than
$100 million in voluntary protection measures.

Timber Harvest Permit preparation costs and additional fees paid have
also increased nearly $20 million since coho was listed.

"We're committed to the protection and recovery of coho salmon, but this
action by the Fish and Game Commission was not about protecting the
fish," said David Bischel, president of the California Forestry
Association. "This action was an effort by one state agency to seize
power from another agency over who can approve timber harvest permits."

The lawsuit also claims that the regulations are duplicative and costly
to taxpayers and private landowners.

Coalition covers a broad spectrum

Led by the California Timber Association, a variety of other groups have
signed on to the lawsuit. Those include the SOSS from Siskiyou County,
California State Grange Association, Forestland Owners of California and
California Cattlemen's Association.

But several other heavyweight groups have also jumped on the bandwagon.
These are the California Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Eureka
Chamber of Commerce.

J. Warren Hockaday, who is the executive director of the Greater Eureka
Chamber, said, "The potential adverse impacts of these regulations in
Humboldt County is astounding, where the forest management industry
makes up about 60 percent of the country's base economy."

Dr. Charles H. Hanson, Ph.D. and an expert in fish biology, has been
utilized extensively by members of the coalition. SOSS hired Hanson back
in 2002 to compile and submit additional coho population and other
information to the Fish and Game.

"The Commission's finding that coho salmon are an endangered species is
unnecessary, since existing state and federal regulations protect the
species," said Dr. Hanson.

The lawsuit gives reasons why the Commission's decision to list coho as
an endangered and threatened species should be over turned.

The March 2005 decision by the state Commission approved the final hoop
to listing coho as "endangered" along the Central California coast and
as "threatened" along the Northern California coast to the Oregon
border. Coho is a salmon that prefers colder water. According to the
Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Oregon is the southern boundary
for the coho.

But the species is not likely to go extinct soon.

Coho are prevalent north of California. It is illegal to catch or kill a
coho in the State of California or along the coast of California
Yet in Oregon, 145,000 coho are expected to be caught in non-Indian
commercial ocean harvest, according to the federal Pacific Fisheries
Management Council. In Tribal Indian Treaties, 50,000 will be taken in
commercial ocean troll quotas. In sports non-Indian fishing, the season
is in progress. It runs from June 18 to July 31 and 40,000 coho are
expected to be caught, according to the Oregon Department of Fish and

Yet in Alaska, the Department of Fish and Game is expecting 5.1 million
coho will be caught for commercial fishing; and that does not include
the sports fishing harvest.

Currently, in California landowners must adhere to eight regulations

Before the listing of the coho to the state ESA, landowners already had
eight federal and state regulations that affected them. These are:
-- Federal Endangered Species Act
-- Federal Clean Water Act
-- National Environmental Policy Act
-- Anadromous Fish Conservation Act
-- California Environmental Quality Act
-- California Keene-Nielsen Fisheries Restoration Act
-- Z'berg-Nejedly Forest Practice Act of Forest Practice Rules
-- Porter-Cologne Clean Water Act




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