Seven-year battle to implement previously achieved protections continues in Court
Sacramento – On November 13th, the California Court of Appeal will hear the case of California Forestry Association et al. v. Fish & Game Commission et al. to decide the future of California’s embattled Coho salmon. The original petition for listing 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. A consortium of timber interests has repeatedly challenged the listing, forcing it to ever-higher levels of the court system in attempts to avoid implementing state recommended protective measures for Coho salmon designed to recover the species.
“It’s time to put and end to this legal battle and to start conserving Coho salmon and their habitats,” said Brian Stranko of California Trout. “No endangered species should have to wait seven years to receive effective protection. The California Forestry Association is pursuing a course that imperils the natural heritage of our state.”
California’s Coho salmon received full protection under a finalized CESA listing in March 2005, but the ongoing legal challenges are attempts to undo years of recovery planning and block efforts to improve conditions required for species survival. The Coho advocates’ position has been upheld at every level of decision-making including the current ruling by the state superior court in June 2006. The Coho are also listed under the federal Endangered Species Act but the federal government has not completed recovery plans, failing to provide the practical recovery actions needed to aid population recovery.
Coho habitat has been severely degraded over the past century, largely due to poor land use practices that have resulted in rising water temperatures, increased river siltation, low water flows 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. If the state endangered listing were to be overturned or its provisions weakened, the Coho could lose its best chance of survival.
California Trout has 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.
A decision in the current appeal is expected in early 2008.
About California Trout: Founded in 1971, California Trout was the first statewide conservation group to focus on securing protections for California’s unparalleled wild and native trout diversity. Working with local communities, business, partners and government agencies, California Trout employs conservation science, education, and advocacy to craft effective solutions for California’s water resources and fisheries. Among its many current initiatives, California Trout is now leading the effort to save the official state fish, which is the California golden trout.