NOAA 99-R115
Contact: Brian Gorman

Action marks first time protection has extended to heavily populated areas

The Commerce Department's National Marine Fisheries Service today added nine
species of salmon and steelhead in Washington and Oregon, including metropolitan
Portland and Seattle, to the endangered species list B marking the first time federal
protection has been extended to salmon found in streams in heavily populated areas of
the Pacific Northwest.

The Clinton Administration expects the move to encourage successful state and local
salmon conservation efforts in the Pacific Northwest now and into the future.

People -- not nature -- have created the conditions that have affected the health of
these fish. The endangered species listings are the result of such factors as land-use
and water-development projects that degrade watershed and stream conditions critical
to salmon survival, habitat loss, over-harvesting, dam construction and operation, and
certain hatchery practices.

"Our goal here is to restore salmon," said Department of Commerce Secretary William
M. Daley. "But we know that we cannot accomplish that alone. As we have all said
repeatedly, extinction is not an option! We want to work together with state and local
officials to preserve, for future generations, healthy salmon stocks along with clean and
productive rivers and streams."

"One of our greatest challenges is to restore the great salmon runs of the Pacific
Northwest to sustainable levels," said Terry Garcia, assistant secretary of commerce for
oceans and atmosphere. "Healthy salmon resources are essential to the economic
health and prosperity of the region."

The salmon populations listed, known as ESUs or evolutionary significant units, range
from the sockeye salmon in Washington's rugged Olympic Peninsula to chinook
salmon, the largest of any salmon, found in the heavily urbanized area of Puget Sound.
Those listed today are:

Four chinooks ESUs

  • Puget Sound chinook (threatened)
  • Lower Columbia River chinook (threatened)
  • Upper Columbia River spring-run chinook (endangered)
  • Upper Willamette River chinook (threatened)

Two chum ESUs

  • Hood Canal summer run chum (threatened)
  • Columbia River chum (threatened)

Two steelhead ESUS

  • Upper Willamette River steelhead (threatened)
  • Middle Columbia River steelhead (threatened)

One sockeye ESU

  • Ozette Lake sockeye (threatened)

At this time, no immediate regulations will apply to state and private activities in the
areas where species are listed as threatened. However, because it is listed as an
endangered species, any accidental or incidental "take" of Upper Columbia River spring
chinook would require a permit. In the future, fisheries service staff will work closely with
its partners to develop "tailor-made" regulations that would include state and local
conservation initiatives. The fisheries service said that the listing decisions would go
into effect in two months.

Garcia added that "Governors John Kitzhaber and Gary Locke and many political
leaders in the region have committed to me their support and willingness to do what it
takes to save these fish. We are serious about achieving that goal and are committed to
working cooperatively with the states, counties, Indian tribal governments and the
public to produce comprehensive conservation plans that build on those partnerships to
restore salmon habitat and recover these fish. We must work together to meet the
challenge and find the right path to recovery into the 21st century."

The agency is deferring, for six months, its decision on four remaining chinook salmon
(ESUs): Snake River fall-run, southern Oregon and California coastal, California Central
Valley fall-run and California Central Valley spring-run chinook. The fisheries service will
use the six-month extension to resolve areas of scientific disagreement about the
ESUs. A final determination will be made in September. Garcia said President Clinton's
FY2000 budget proposal asks Congress for $100 million for West Coast and Alaska
salmon protection to help local and tribal efforts B some of which are already underway
B in the three western states.

Under the Endangered Species Act, a species likely to become extinct is categorized
as endangered. A species likely to become endangered within the foreseeable future is
categorized as threatened.

Additional specific information related to this decision, including maps and fact sheets,
is available on the fisheries service's Northwest region Web site at


After careful study, and consultation with state and tribal scientists, the Commerce Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is today listing as threatened or endangered several groups of Pacific northwest salmon.

I believe this action is essential to protect a valuable natural resource, a source of income and a symbol of all that is so special about the Pacific Northwest.

I recognize the challenge we face in restoring the great salmon runs. Therefore, I have directed NOAA to increase resources devoted to the Pacific Northwest.

In addition, the administration has asked Congress for $100 million, coordinated by the Department of Commerce, that would go directly to state and local governments and Native American tribes. These funds will help defray the costs of developing and implementing plans to restore these fish to sustainable populations and to protect and restore healthy streams and the clean water upon which they -- and all of us B depend. Clean water, healthy streams, and strong salmon runs go hand in hand.

I am committed to working in partnership with the state and local communities on their conservation efforts. It is only through these partnerships that we can ensure healthy salmon populations, protect and restore our clean water and continue to assure a vibrant economy for generations to come. I salute the leadership of Governors Kitzhaber and Locke, the Tri-County process and the many local leaders who have stepped forward with clear and determined commitments. I pledge my efforts to build these lasting and effective partnerships.

March 16, 1999