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Snake River Basin Makes Ecosystem “Save” List

January 6, 2011

BOISE, Idaho - The Snake River Basin is on a new "top 10" list of U.S. ecosystems that are home to fish, wildlife and plants at risk of extinction.

Each habitat on the list is described as threatened because of a changing climate but not considered a lost cause. The report describes conservation actions that could help keep species resilient. Derek Goldman of the Endangered Species Coalition, which issued the report, says the group took a long-term view of habitat health...

"Ecosystems that provide habitat for lots of endangered species right now, and other ecosystems expected to provide refuge as species try to adapt to global warming."

The Snake River Basin is home to endangered and threatened salmon and steelhead. The report outlines how making their migrations easier around dams could save those species, while also benefitting people and other wildlife.

The Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, which extends into Idaho, also is on the list. Imperiled whitebark pine in that zone is a keystone food source for animals, including grizzlies. Other sites the report says need conservation attention include California's Sierra Mountains and the Arctic Sea Ice Ecosystem.

Goldman says the coalition based the list on scientific review and input that focuses on protection, restoration and reconnection.

"Look for things that we can do on the conservation side to protect really important habitats for fish and wildlife and plants that are already on the brink of extinction."

The full report, "It's Getting Hot Out There: Top 10 Places to Save for Endangered Species in a Warming World," is available at itsgettinghotoutthere.org.

Deb Courson, Public News Service - ID