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Oregon Home to 4 of 10 "Hottest Species"

December 2, 2009

PPORTLAND, Ore. - Salmon, bull trout, leatherback sea turtles and Canada lynx are the Oregon "residents" on a new list of "America's Hottest Species." They are already considered endangered and will inch closer to extinction if climate change worsens, according to the Endangered Species Coalition and the Center for Biological Diversity.

The two fish species make their homes in Northwest streams, and the report predicts less water in those streams with rising temperatures and snowpacks melting faster. Glen Spain, Northwest regional director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations, says that creates a variety of problems.

"It means higher water temperatures; it means poorer water quality - that is, less dissolved oxygen for the fish - the emergence of fish pathogens that are warm-water pathogens; and we are seeing it all throughout the West coast."

The report comes less than a week before the United Nations Climate Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark. No matter what happens at the conference, says Spain, there is plenty that Oregon could be doing to improve habitat at home.

"We need to clean up those watersheds; we need to reforest them. We need to pull out development in areas that don't make any sense; we need to pull out dams that don't make any sense. Reduce the other impacts that we do have some human control over in the short-term, while we solve the longer-term problems of global warming."

Spain says Oregon is one of a few states with no overall state plan to manage and conserve water resources. Some watershed restoration is underway but, in his view, the efforts are under-funded and poorly coordinated.

The report asks that climate change be factored into all decisions about endangered species, and that current environmental laws - such as the Clean Water Act and Endangered Species Act - be protected. It can be viewed online at www.StopExtinction.org.

Chris Thomas, Public News Service - OR