U.S. Backing forby Jeff Barnard, Associated Press
VANCOUVER, Wash. -- The first in a series of locally produced blueprints for salmon recovery in the Columbia Basin was endorsed yesterday by federal authorities, who will roll it into a comprehensive plan for the region by next year.
The draft plan for restoring habitat and populations of threatened chum and chinook salmon and steelhead in watersheds draining into the lower Columbia River from Washington comes more than a decade after the first of a dozen species of salmon came under Endangered Species Act protection in the Columbia Basin.
"It's a radically different approach for endangered species recovery," said Bob Lohn, Northwest regional director of NOAA Fisheries, the federal agency in charge of protecting threatened and endangered salmon.
The draft plan evaluates the distribution, diversity, abundance and productivity of salmon populations, and the current risk of extinction. It includes a comprehensive analysis of factors holding salmon populations down, such as fishing, hatchery management, hydroelectric operations and habitat conditions, and what should be done to overcome them. It also sets goals that will be used to assess if fish can be taken off the endangered species list.
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