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Feds Aim to Take Salmon Off the Endangered List

by Associated Press
Lewiston Tribune, March 28, 2003

HERMISTON, Ore. -- The National Marine Fisheries Service is finalizing the steps that must be taken to remove Northwest salmon runs from the federal Endangered Species List.

Regional Administrator Bob Lohn said the report will also indicate how many fish need to be living and breeding in the Columbia and Snake river systems before they can be taken off the list.

But Lohn said federal courts will need to decide if a significant number of fish must be born and raised in the wild before a run can be delisted.

The report will not automatically delist any of the 26 listed salmon populations, spokesman Brian Gorman said.

"Last summer, when we decided not to appeal a district court decision that called into question our policy of not listing hatchery fish, we said we needed to address nearly all the salmon and steelhead listings on the Pacific Coast," Gorman said.

Of the 26 listed populations, he said, 24 include some hatchery fish.

Gorman said the fisheries service decided to rewrite its policy toward those 24 so that it applied to all and at the same time review the status of each of them to determine if any should be removed.

He said some had not been reviewed in years.

Hearings would be required, he said, and no species could be removed until late 2003 at the earliest.

Lohn said the salmon runs this year have been unparalleled since Bonneville Dam was built in the late 1930s.

"Good deep ocean conditions had a profound effect on salmon and steelhead and the level of food and improvements of habitat are helping," Lohn told farmers and business owners in Hermiston this week.

Research shows that high salmon runs coincide with years when there is high water runoff and moderate temperatures, he said.

Those are cyclical, and Lohn believes the region is at the start of a strong cycle now.

Associated Press
Feds Aim to Take Salmon Off the Endangered List
Lewiston Tribune, March 28, 2003

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