CENTER FOR BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY
For Immediate Release August 15th, 2005
NEW SALMON AND STEELHEAD HABITAT PROTECTIONS
Contact: David Hogan, 619 574-6800
The U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service has announced a final decision designating “critical habitat” for 19 populations of salmon and steelhead in streams and rivers on the west coast of the United States. The decision comes in response to a lawsuit and settlement agreement with six conservation and fishing groups: Center for Biological Diversity, Environmental Protection and Information Center, Institute for Fisheries Resources, Oregon Natural Resources Council, Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations, and Pacific Rivers Council.
Groups are pleased that legal protections for salmon and steelhead habitat will be somewhat increased but decry NMFS’ decision to reduce habitat protections by 80% from the previous area, and to exclude floodplain forests and areas above dams. The following southern and Central California rivers and streams are included in the decision:
“ The decision is really an insult to anyone who cares about salmon and steelhead, about wild streams and rivers," said David Hogan, Urban Wildlands Program Director for the Center for Biological Diversity. "Add this to President Bush's remarkable record of undermining wildlife protections and the Endangered Species Act."
Several important salmon and steelhead habitat areas were excluded when the agency alleged conservation would result in economic harm. “The Bush administration has repeatedly over-emphasized possible negative economic consequences of critical habitat while under-emphasizing the benefits,” said Hogan. “Habitat protection safeguards positive economic values like commercial and recreational fisheries, healthy watersheds, and natural open space.”
The Fisheries Service only acted to designate critical habitat as a result of the conservation and fishing group’s lawsuit. The lawsuit and settlement followed a sweetheart deal between the Bush Administration and the National Association of Home Builders striking down previous critical habitat protections established in 2000
Endangered Species Act “critical habitat” protections are an important tool to recover endangered species. A peer-reviewed study in the April 2005 issue of BioScience, “The Effectiveness of the Endangered Species Act: A Quantitative Analysis,” concludes that species with critical habitat for two or more years are more than twice as likely to have improving population trends than species without. Yet the Bush administration has carried out a vigorous assault on critical habitat and the Endangered Species Act by encouraging legislative riders limiting ESA habitat protections, requesting insufficient appropriations to support critical habitat designations, seeking lengthy delays when courts have ordered habitat protections, and inserting legal disclaimers in all critical habitat rules to encourage and support industry lawsuits to strike them down.
NMFS’ listing decision and maps may be viewed at: