SALEM - The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife has released its plan for the conservation and recovery of Oregon's native salmon and steelhead populations in the Lower Columbia River and is seeking public comment. ODFW will present the plan and gather comments at a public workshop that will be held from 6 to 8:30 p.m. May 11 at the Judge Guy Boyington Building, 857 Commercial St.

The Lower Columbia River Conservation and Recovery Plan for Oregon Populations of Salmon and Steelhead (Plan) outlines steps to rebuild natural populations of salmon and steelhead in the Lower Columbia that have experienced drastic declines over the last 100 years. The plan's goal is to help salmon and steelhead populations grow to levels where they no longer need protection under the federal Endangered Species Act.  

According to Kevin Goodson, ODFW Conservation Planning Coordinator, the plan serves as a road map for conservation and recovery of listed salmon and steelhead populations in Youngs Bay, Big Creek, Clatskanie, Scappoose, Clackamas, Sandy, Lower Gorge, Upper Gorge and Hood River sub-basins. The plan identifies goals for ESA delisting as well as an outline for rebuilding population levels well above delisting to provide significant ecological, social, cultural and economic benefits.

Key elements of the plan include identifying the current population status, major limiting factors and threats, management actions to address all threats, an implementation plan and a monitoring program to assess success and make adaptive changes. The plan will help guide the actions of state, federal, and tribal agencies, as well as watershed councils, local governments, non-governmental organizations and landowners.

The plan has been under development for a number of years with input and guidance from numerous public and private stakeholders, Goodson said. Much of this input was provided by the Lower Columbia Stakeholder Team, whose members represent a diverse set of constituents who will play a critical role in implementing the plan, he added.

The plan is being released for public comment at this time as a state conservation plan that will be presented to the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission for its review and eventual approval. The plan will then be submitted to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries Service for inclusion in its bi-state, federal plan for recovery of lower Columbia River salmon and steelhead, which will include similar plans for populations in Washington. NOAA will also conduct a subsequent federal public review process for the bi-state plan.

A draft of the proposed Lower Columbia River Conservation and Recovery Plan for Oregon Populations of Salmon and Steelhead is available on the ODFW Web site at (http://www.dfw.state.or.us/ fish/CRP/lower_columbia_plan.asp )

The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission will be considering the plan at its June 3-4 meeting in Salem. Public comment may be submitted electronically to (odfw.commission@state.or.us) prior to the meeting. Public comment will also be taken at the meeting.

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