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Idaho Sockeye Named in Most Endangered Species Report

PHOTO: Idaho's Sockeye salmon named one of the most endangered species in the nation. Photo courtesy of Save Our Wild Salmon.
PHOTO: Idaho's Sockeye salmon named one of the most endangered species in the nation. Photo courtesy of Save Our Wild Salmon.
November 15, 2012

BOISE, Idaho - Idaho's sockeye salmon are named on a list of the most endangered species in the nation.

The Endangered Species Coalition issues the report each year, and this time the focus is on water ecosystems.

Greg Stahl, assistant policy director for Idaho Rivers United, says it's no secret that sockeye have had a tough time. They've been on the federal endangered species list for 21 years.

"Since then, they haven't come a whole lot farther. And the problem goes beyond our sockeye, of course; its Snake River chinook salmon and steelhead are all still in trouble. The primary impediment to their survival is the Lower Snake River dams."

The report specifically looks at how dams, water diversions, drought and water pollution affect species across the nation.

Recovery plans for Idaho's endangered salmon have been in court for a decade, as Stahl's group and others have argued that focusing only on habitat isn't enough to save the wild fish.

"We have abundant habitat for spawning and rearing. The problem is the migration artery. A lot of our fish die outgoing journeying to the Pacific Ocean."

With a court order for a new federal plan by January 2014, Stahl says, there is time for all stakeholders to meet to discuss solutions.

The report, "Water Woes: How Dams, Diversions, Dirty Water and Drought Put America's Wildlife at Risk," is online at waterwoes.org.

Deborah Courson Smith/Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - ID