The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Marine Fisheries Service issued an incidental take permit Friday, putting into place a conservation strategy that will be in effect until the dams are removed. Coho salmon are protected under the federal Endangered Species Act, and the permit regulates any potential harm to coho with habitat conversation measures.
Irma Lagomarsino, NOAA fisheries service supervisor for Northern California, said measures include projects that improve the complexity of the coho habitat by adding woody debris to streams to improve their survival rates in swift-moving waters.
PacifiCorp spokesman Bob Gravely said Monday that the plan does not directly relate to the dam removal but allows the company to have a permanent plan in place. The plan was an interim measure required by the Klamath dams removal agreements, which were agreed upon by multiple parties in 2008.
”This is great news for us,” Gravely said. “It settles this issue for the interim period.”
Lagomarsino said the permit is for 10 years, but if the dams come down, the permit would be moot. The plan was developed over the last two years and has been subject to environmental review and public comment through the fisheries service, according to NOAA.
”We're really excited that PacifiCorp is providing species conservation for the coho in the Klamath,” Lagomarsino said Monday. “A lot of hard work went into working with them, and we applaud them for stepping up and doing this.”
Under the terms of the permit, PacifiCorp will work with the fisheries service, the California Department of Fish and Game and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to identify, select, and implement conservation projects. PacifiCorp will contribute $510,000 annually to fund projects to enhance coho conservation in the Klamath River below Iron Gate dam -- the lowest dam on the river.
According to NOAA, the company has already contributed $2.5 million in funding to benefit the coho since 2009.
Donna Tam can be reached at 441-0532 or firstname.lastname@example.org.