Coho Salmon Finally Win Protection

Sacramento – The California Court of Appeal today upheld a previous ruling by the state’s superior court, affirming endangered species status for the embattled California Coho salmon in the case of California Forestry Association et al. v. Fish & Game Commission et al. The original petition for listing of the Coho under the California Endangered Species Act (CESA) was successfully submitted by California Trout on behalf of the Salmon and Steelhead Recovery Coalition in July 2000, and re-affirmed today.

“This is a resounding victory for California’s natural heritage,” said Brian Stranko of California Trout. “With this ruling, the hard work of protecting this magnificent and important species can begin in earnest.”

California’s Coho salmon received full protection under a finalized CESA listing in March 2005, but a group of timber interests attempted to undo years of recovery planning by repeatedly challenging the listing. The case for CESA listing has been upheld at every level of decision-making, including a ruling by the state superior court in June 2006.

Coho habitat has been severely degraded over the past century, largely due to poor land use practices that have resulted in increased river siltation, low water flows, rising water temperatures and a lack of habitat complexity in historic Coho streams. As a consequence, the Coho salmon population has been reduced by over 90% in California, with many stream populations wiped out entirely.

California Trout intervened in this case as part of their ongoing work to protect the wild native fish species of California, an effort which over the last four decades has resulted in significant conservation improvements throughout the state