Wednesday May 24, 2023

Center for Biological Diversity

The Center for Biological Diversity and Pacific Rivers filed a petition today to protect Washington coast spring-run Chinook salmon under the federal Endangered Species Act.

The safeguards would apply to salmon in the Chehalis, Quinault, Queets, Hoh, and Quillayute river basins on the west coast of the Olympic Peninsula. Spring-run Chinook, who are distinct from fall-run salmon, return in the spring from the ocean to freshwater rivers, staying for many months in deep pools until fall to spawn.

“Spring-run Chinook are truly king salmon, magnificent fish prized for their size and taste and impressive for their arduous migrations into upper river reaches,” said Jeff Miller, a senior conservation advocate at the Center for Biological Diversity. “But early returning salmon are in trouble all along the West Coast, and it’s clear they require protection under the Endangered Species Act to stop their slide toward extinction.”

Washington coast spring Chinook have declined significantly and are now at a fraction of their historical abundance, with an average of only 3,200 adult spawning fish returning annually to Washington coast rivers. Remaining spring Chinook runs are threatened by habitat degradation due to logging and roads, water diversions, and migration barriers that block suitable spawning habitat and prevent upstream and downstream migration. They’re also threatened by existing dams and a proposed new dam in the upper Chehalis River, harvest in ocean commercial fisheries and climate change.

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