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 PRESS RELEASE: Oregonians for Food and Shelter
January 17, 2006 

Common sense, science and collaboration justify NOAA decision on coastal coho

(SALEM, OR) Todayís decision by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to not list the Oregon Coastal Coho Salmon is a reflection of the success behind several years of collaboration between Oregonís private landowners, state agencies and the federal government.

Jake Gibbs, chairman of Oregonians for Food & Shelter states, "This decision is as much about the health of the Coho population as it is a statement of support for the approach taken by Oregonís resource agencies and the natural resource community. It truly shows that a local, cooperative, creative approach is often a better solution than relying on the federal government in recovering and protecting our species."

Gibbs adds, "This decision is a real boost in the arm to farmers, foresters and ranchers who have done so much on the ground to benefit Coho salmon and the streams and rivers in which they live. As an active participant in my local watershed council, this decision makes all the work we have done worthwhile."

The Oregon Coastal Coho debate dates back to 1995 when the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) proposed listing the Coho as a threatened species. The State of Oregon responded by developing the Oregon Coastal Salmon Restoration Initiative (OCSRI) in an effort to conserve and restore Oregonís coastal salmon and steelhead populations.

This initiative evolved into the Oregon Plan for Salmon and Watersheds which in turn, became a national model for collaborative problem solving on resource issues. In 1998, Oregon voters approved Measure 66 which allocated portions of lottery funds for watershed and restoration projects on the ground. Since that time, $20-30 million per biennium have been dedicated to watershed enhancement through the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board (OWEB).

Gibbs notes, "This is a perfect example of local input, local control and decision-making, and local solutions. Itís operating on the premise that Oregon has expert scientists, biologists and thoughtful private landowners who care about solutions Ė not rhetoric Ė and that this approach can deliver results far superior to the processes involved in federal agency oversight and management."

The NOAA Fisheries Service decision represents a new way of working toward species recovery. The data and science provided by the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife (ODF&W) in conjunction with NOAA scientists prove that the Coho population is sufficient for species needs.

"While we understand our on-the-ground efforts are just part of the Coho recovery process, this decision by NOAA supports and validates our work, and provides the encouragement we need to remain fully committed to this type of cooperative approach by private landowners," notes Gibbs.

He added, "This is very similar to the current debate going on in Congress over possible changes to the Endangered Species Act. Under the current law over the past 32 years, almost 1,300 species have been placed on the threatened or endangered list Ė but only 10 have actually been recovered and removed from the list. Thatís a success rate of less than 1% and thatís just not acceptable! This success story in Oregon on the Coho ought to be the poster child across the country as to the need for changes in federal policy as well as the need for more and greater local citizen involvement."

Jake Gibbs is a forester with Lone Rock Timber Management Company in Roseburg and is the Chairman of the Board of Oregonians for Food & Shelter (OFS), a coalition organization of foresters, farmers, ranchers and suppliers dedicated to the efficient and safe production of quality food and fiber in Oregon. OFS is based in Salem.

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