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Salmon habitat rules on the table
The issue was addressed at a Wednesday meeting to discuss proposed new rules to change state maps designating “essential indigenous anadromous salmonid” habitat (ESH).Currently, no streams in Klamath County are designated as ESH waterways.
The meeting was hosted by the Oregon Department of State Lands’ (DSL), which oversees the state’s removal-fill permit program. Oregon’s removal-fill law aims to prevent loss of gravel in waterways — specifically salmon spawning areas — and requires an ESH permit to remove or fill certain amounts of material in state waters, such as naturally occurring lakes, rivers and wetlands.Several inquiries at the meeting focused on potential rule changes that could occur in salmonid — salmon — species habitat when, or if, the fish begin spawning in Klamath County. Basin salmon can now only swim as far inland as Iron Gate Dam, but the wildlife officials plan to begin introducing salmon into the upper reaches of the Klamath River in 2017.
According to a news release, ESH streams are identified as providing critical spawning and rearing habitat for fish listed as threatened or endangered by the federal government , or as a sensitive species by ODFW.Bill Ryan, assistant director of the DSL Wetlands and Waterways Conservation Division, pointed out that the only way a waterway can gain an ESH designation is if statesensitive or federally listed salmon begin spawning in it.
“That would be the trigger,” Ryan said.Sen. Doug Whitsett, R-Ore., said he is concerned about restrictions being placed on the diversion canal connecting Lost River to the Klamath River. He said the diversion is at the “heart of the Klamath Project.”
DSL Planning and Policy Unit Manager Eric Metz said the law has an exemption for agricultural maintenance, and it allows land users to perform maintenance to structures that were in place when the removal-fill law was instituted in 1967.“Maintaining the ditch in its original configuration and original function is an exempt activity,” Metz said.
A 90-day public comment period for the new ESH rules opened Sept. 1, and will close at 5 p.m. Nov. 28. Comments can be sent to DSL: email@example.com or Department of State Lands, 775 Summer St. NE, Suite 100, Salem, OR 97301-1279.More information, including the new ESH maps, is available on the DSL website: http:// www.oregon.gov/dsl/Pages/ Rulemaking-Activity.aspx.
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Salmon gather at the Iron Gate Dam.
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Page Updated: Sunday October 26, 2014 10:51 PM Pacific
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