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By Erin Maxson January 27, 2011

Environmental groups want Klamath River salmon listed as Endangered Species

KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. - One of Southern Oregon's iconic symbols may soon receive more federal protection.
On Thursday, four environmental organizations submitted a petition to the National Marine Fisheries Service to place Klamath River spring Chinook salmon under the Endangered Species Act.
Last year, spring Chinook runs on the Rogue River had their best returns in four-years. However, biologists say spring Chinook runs on the Klamath River are experiencing extremely low returns.
"As they've looked at these different runs along the West Coast, they've said pretty clearly that the salmon in the Rogue River are different from the salmon in the California Coast, which are also distinct from the fish in the Upper Klamath Basin," said Scott Grearen with the Environmental Protection Information Center.
The petitioning groups include Petitioners Center for Biological Diversity, Oregon Wild, Environmental Protection Information Center, and The Larch Company. They contend that the Klamath River spring Chinook are on the edge of extinction because of severe environmental impacts. They say dams, logging and disease have decimated their numbers in the past century, and continue to hurt their survival and growth.
Environmental groups contend that the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement, which would lead to the removal of four hydroelectric dams on the Klamath River, would only be a start to solving salmon population problems. However, under the KBRA, the removal of the dams wouldn't take place until 2020. Supporters say that the salmon need protection now.
"The protections that the Spring Chinook have at this point are informal and voluntary," Grearen said.
Historically, spring runs of Chinook were more economically important than fall runs, but that has since changed.
The NMFS is set to review the petition and its numbers, which show a declining survival rate of spring Chinook on the Klamath River

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