Coho Recovery Campaign

Coho Populations Declining Region-wide

Central California coho salmon are listed as endangered and Northern California populations as threatened under federal and state ESA. The CA Department of Fish and Wildlife (CA DFW) developed a Coho Recovery Strategy with assistance from the State Coho Recovery Team, which was completed in 2005. The CA DFW is currently preparing a Status Report for the Fish and Game Commission. The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) also prepared a draft Coho Recovery Plan, released in 2012. Funding for coho salmon recovery is available (but limited) through state and federal grant programs and many projects are underway. But, despite these activities, coho salmon abundance has continued to decline region-wide – as state and federal agencies (e.g., CA DFW) have not committed enough financial or human resources, nor have they committed to regulatory enforcement in clear cases of endangered species act violations.

Conservation Goals

  • Facilitate coho salmon recovery through restoration actions, regulatory program implementation, and enforcement of regulatory statutes against Incidental Take.
  • Consider recommending a jeopardy ruling status for coho salmon by state and federal agencies.
  • Focus on the Shasta River, Smith River, South Fork Eel River, and Elk River as key opportunities for coho recovery.

Recent Accomplishments

  • AB 1961 (Huffman) The Coho HELP Act. California’s coastal salmon species are on the brink of extinction and emergency habitat restoration actions are needed to prevent the permanent loss of these iconic fish. In 2012, a coalition of conservation organizations including CalTrout, local public agencies, and private landowners passed legislation to streamline the approval process for the most efficient and cost-effective habitat restoration projects. Those targeted actions include the removal of fish passage barriers, restoration of eroded or denuded streambanks, and placement of large wood into channels that are an important component to coho salmon habitat.
  • The Coho Coalition Government agencies and conservation organizations spend tens of millions of dollars on salmon restoration actions annually in California, much of it affecting coho watersheds. However, because there is no accessible centralized database, our understanding of the types and amount of restoration work conducted over the years is incomplete.To better understand the state of watersheds within the coho range in California, CalTrout and our conservation partners, TNC and TU, have undertaken a status review of restoration projects that highlights:
    –  Restoration activities that have occurred over the past decade in the California Central Coast and Southern Oregon/Northern California Coast populations
    – Priority restoration activities that need to be completed according to the CA DFW and NMFS recovery plans for coho salmon
    – Economic activity and jobs created for completed restoration

What We Will Accomplish in 2013-14

  • Facilitate coho salmon recovery through restoration actions, regulatory program implementation, and through enforcement of regulatory statutes against Incidental Take.
  • Consider recommending a Jeopardy Ruling status update for coho salmon (Southern Oregon/Northern CA) by state (CA DFG) and federal(NMFS) agencies.
  • Design a Shasta River coho supplementation program to address dwindling populations.

Key Partners: Trout Unlimited, The Nature Conservancy, Conservation Strategies Group, State and Federal agencies, Assemblyman Wesley Chesbro, State Coho Recovery Team, California Advisory Committee on Salmon and Steelhead, Fisheries Restoration Grants Program Peer Review Committee

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