Coho Recovery Campaign

Coho Populations Declining Region-wide

If there ever was an emblematic fish species for the North Coast region, it would be the coho salmon. Not only do they thrive best within the cooler coastal climate provided by much of our region, but their essential requirement for small streams with large wood and complex habitat for juvenile rearing was once abundant here. California coho salmon are listed as threatened under federal and state Endangered Species Act (ESA).

CalTrout was involved in promoting the listing of coho salmon as well as developing the Recovery Strategy for California Coho Salmon (CDFG 2004). Throughout that time, our organization has put forth tremendous effort to promote the protection and recovery of coho salmon, and will continue to pursue recovery of this important species. However, despite the decades-long efforts, 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.
  • Focus on the Shasta River, Smith River, South Fork Eel River, and Elk River as key opportunities for coho recovery.

Recent Accomplishments

  • Recovery Status Reviews The CA DFW has prepared a draft Status Report to the Fish and Game Commission which CalTrout is currently reviewing. CalTrout will continue to push for more strategic recovery efforts, more funding, and more regulatory enforcement throughout the coho salmon’s range.

  • The Coho Coalition Government agencies and conservation organizations have spent tens of millions of dollars on habitat restoration actions throughout California. However, one of the most pressing issues facing recovery of coho is low summer streamflows caused by human water consumption. Low flows effect juvenile rearing conditions and survival, and ultimately population health. To address the ongoing water crisis, the Coho Coalition will be teaming up in numerous watersheds to tackle water management challenges, improve streamflows for coho salmon and steelhead, while improving water supply reliability for farmers and homeowners. The geographic scope of the project is the historic range of coho salmon.

What We Will Accomplish in 2014-15

  • Create funding incentives and eliminate disincentives, to keep water instream.
  • Implement a voluntary Safe Harbor Agreement with key landowners and resource agencies in the Shasta River, to provide regulatory protection for landowners in exchange for habitat protection, restoration, and coordinated water management.
  • Facilitate the use of CA Water Code Section 1707 to transfer water rights to instream uses, to benefit fish and wildlife.
  • Develop and improve the scientific and policy tools for identifying instream water needs, and regulating and enforcing stream-side diversions for domestic and agricultural uses.

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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