Time to Take Action
Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
Upholding rural Americans' rights to grow food,
own property, and caretake our wildlife and natural resources.

State approves coho recovery plan 

People testify that blueprint doesn't go far enough

Oregon has a new Coho Coastal Conservation Plan.

And ocean salmon anglers have a lot to cheer about, while those fishing at the mouth of the Columbia River might be looking at tightened limits on chinook.

And the Oregon Hunters Association's Salem chapter got a grant to continue its popular Abiqua access project.

Those were the high notes Friday during the March meeting of the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission in Salem.

With a relatively light agenda, the first order of business was to beat the buzzer, adjourning before the 2 p.m. tipoff of Oregon's game in the NCAA basketball tournament.

"I hope we can all get commissioner Edge out of here for the Ducks game," quipped Curt Melcher, the assistant Fish Division administrator for the Columbia River and marine issues, in a preamble to the preview about potential ocean salmon fishing regulations.

Dan Edge, the commissioner from Corvallis, is a professor of fisheries at Oregon State University.

Coho plan

Despite concerns expressed by several of the people who commented about the plan, all five commissioners -- with Carter Kerns of Pendleton and Jon Englund of Astoria out of state on business trips -- approved the blueprint for native salmon recovery.

As with the Oregon Plan for Salmon and Watersheds on which it builds, the coho plan relies mainly on a cooperative approach between private coastal landowners and Fish and Wildlife.

Two of the five people who testified said the plan lacked sufficient benchmarks of success, and that the approach was strong on encouragement but long on enforcement or requirements.

Bronwen Wright from Portland, representing the Pacific Rivers Council, said, "We think more needs to be done."

She expressed her group's concern about a lack of specific goals and criteria of success.

The threat of consequences can go a long way, said Wayne Giesy of Philomath, representing the Alsea Valley Alliance.

"You might not be here if we hadn't file a lawsuit," he told commissioners about one of the spurs to getting a plan in the first place.

Fish and Wildlife biologists convinced the commissioners that there was adequate monitoring and reporting, and that the plan allowed the flexibility to respond to crises.

Salmon seasons

Coho salmon numbers generally are much improved this year in the ocean from Washington into Northern California, Melcher said in a briefing about seasons being considered by the Pacific Fishery Management Council and Oregon and Washington officials in what's known as the "North of (Cape) Falcon" negotiations.

Strong coho returns, as well as a rebound in Klamath River fall-run chinook in Northern California, should mean healthy seasons for sport and commercial anglers.

In 2006, weak Klamath River chinook returns shut down fishing along vast swaths of the coast.

But worrisome for the council, which in April will decide ocean salmon seasons, are forecasts for smaller returns of fall chinook in the Columbia River and California's Sacramento River.

And because of lower chinook returns forecast for the Columbia, worst-case scenarios being considered in negotiations between Oregon and Washington officials include a coho-only, no-chinook rule at Buoy 10 at the mouth of the Columbia, reduced seasons, closure of some tributaries and expanded sanctuary areas.

Hunter access

Commissioners approved a package of Access and Habitat Program projects, including $6,201 to continue the Abiqua Basin Hunter Access Project.

The bulk of the money will be used to pay mileage to volunteers who drive up daily during the hunting seasons to unlock the gate that allows hunters onto 25,600 acres of Longview Fibre property near Silverton.

And $1,000 of the money would be used to add more information kiosks in the forest.

Home Contact


              Page Updated: Thursday May 07, 2009 09:14 AM  Pacific

             Copyright klamathbasincrisis.org, 2007, All Rights Reserved