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Lawsuit Launched to Protect Coho Salmon From Logging on Oregon's State Forests
PORTLAND, Ore.— The Center for Biological Diversity on February 13 filed a formal notice of intent to sue the Oregon Department of Forestry for logging that is hurting threatened coho salmon and damaging stream health on the Tillamook and Clatsop state forests (see PDF). According to the notice, logging on steep landslide-prone slopes and hauling timber on badly designed roads is polluting streams with sediment and harming the fish.
“Oregon’s logging is destroying the health of our streams and killing our fish,” said Noah Greenwald, the Center’s endangered species director. “It’s well past time for the Oregon Department of Forestry to take its duty seriously and do all it can to protect our beloved salmon and clean water.”
The notice comes a week after the Department agreed to drop 28 timber sales in response to another suit brought by the Center and allies over harm to a threatened seabird, the marbled murrelet. The state has run into trouble with the Endangered Species Act because of its abandonment of a draft “habitat conservation plan,” which if finalized would have allowed it to “take” threatened and endangered species, including the coho, marbled murrelet and spotted owl, in exchange for long-term habitat protections. The state’s lack of stream protections that would satisfy the National Marine Fisheries Service — which needed to sign off on the plan — was a primary reason it did not finalize a conservation plan.
“The Department of Forestry and state of Oregon needs to do right by coho salmon and streams for the benefit of the tens of thousands of Oregonians who enjoy swimming and fishing in our rivers,” said Greenwald. “The state had a reasonable, balanced and legal path forward and blew it.”
The two state forests contain more than 500,000 acres on the North Coast essential to the survival of Oregon Coast coho. The lack of adequate stream protections on these lands was a primary basis for the decision to protect the fish under the Endangered Species Act, with the Fisheries Service concluding in a 2010 status review that “we are unable to conclude that the state forest management plans will provide for OC coho salmon habitat that is capable of supporting populations that are viable during both good and poor marine conditions.”
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 675,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.