California Legislators Work To Protect California’s Iconic Coho Salmon From Extinction

AB 1961 Gives Landowners, Organizations Freedom To Move Quickly To Protect Coho Salmon

With California’s coho salmon populations facing extinction, CalTrout, Trout Unlimited (TU) and The Nature Conservancy support the passing of AB 1961 — The Coho Salmon HELP Act.

It expedites the approval of projects designed to provide permanent habitat enhancement for coho salmon, which are native to California.

Coho salmon have virtually disappeared in some areas of California; in other areas they are teetering on the brink of extinction. Under this bill, the California Department of Fish and Game can more efficiently and effectively work with governmental and non-governmental partners to approve immediate on-the-ground habitat restoration projects to aid California’s struggling Coho salmon populations.

“We cannot sit idly by and let an iconic North Coast fish disappear from California,” said California Assemblyman Jared Huffman. “My bill is about taking thoughtful, immediate actions to create near-term results. Coho salmon can’t afford to wait and neither can the communities where these restoration projects would provide much needed jobs.”

“This bill will help resolve conflicts between water supply management, industrial practices, and one of our most threatened fish species,” said Brian Johnson, California Director for Trout Unlimited. “We look forward to working with the author to provide non-profits, local water agencies, and others with the opportunity to contribute towards the restoration of our watersheds, for the benefit of us all.”

“Declining coastal salmon populations need immediate attention,” said Curtis Knight, Conservation Director for California Trout. “These fish need abundant water. They need access to spawning habitat. And they need wood in the streams to create shelter and cool, deep pools. AB 1961 will help us and our partners provide some of these basic needs in our coastal streams.”

“The expedited review offered by AB 1961 will allow landowners to more easily return our streams and rivers to what they once were: free-flowing, complex, and able to support abundant wild salmon,” said Brian Stranko, North & Central Coast Regional Director, The Nature Conservancy.


  1. Interesting bill. Is there a specific problem it aims to solve. Is DFG somehow unable to approve habitat projects in a timely way?

    • Curtis Knight says:

      Mr. Ross,

      The bill is designed to improve the efficiency of implementing small scale restoration projects that will benefit coho salmon. These projects are defined as streambank enhancement projects, culvert replacement/repair projects or placement of large woody debris in the stream.

      Currently these small scale projects need to go through cumbersome DFG approval/permitting process. This bill improves the efficiency of the process and allows DFG to approve these small scale projects if they implement previously defined best practices and are consistent with recovery plans.

      Coho populations need immediate help. We believe this bill provides incentives to landowners and others to implement habitat restoration projects.