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Groups Urge Greater Protections for Salmon from Logging

Coho salmon numbers in Oregon dropped below 30,000 in the 1990s from historic averages above 1 million. (Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife/Flickr)
Coho salmon numbers in Oregon dropped below 30,000 in the 1990s from historic averages above 1 million. (Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife/Flickr)
April 25, 2019

PORTLAND, Ore. – Conservation and fishing groups are calling on Oregon to enact stronger protections for salmon from the effects of logging.

Twenty groups have petitioned the Oregon Board of Forestry for new rules to prevent logging-related degradation of habitats on state and private timberlands for coho salmon, which are protected as endangered at the state and federal level.

Cascadia Wildlands legal director Nick Cady says the law requires the board to identify and protect "resource sites" for endangered species when they conflict with logging, but have never done so for fish. He says that's hurt Oregon water resources.

"There's a lot of scientific evidence and information from the EPA and other federal agencies that Oregon has really fallen behind on water quality and water temperature and it's leading to a lot of impacts not just for coho salmon but for a host of other species and public health as well," he states.

Cady says Oregon has the weakest protections on private timberlands in the country.

The Board of Forestry says water quality in Oregon is much better than in other states.

But Cady and the coalition of groups behind this petition say the state can do more. He says action on this would provide Oregon a chance to look at how well it is protecting rivers and streams.

"The coho salmon petition presents an opportunity to the state of Oregon to comprehensively address all of these issues that are having drastic impacts to water in our state and really take a hard, direct look at it all at once,” he stresses. “So that's what we're hoping they do here."

The petition also identifies roadbuilding for logging on the Oregon coast as detrimental to coho salmon populations.

Historically, coho numbers were above 1 million, but began a massive drop-off in the 1960s and '70s and averaged only about 30,000 in the 1990s.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - OR