SOURCE: New York Times
DATE: January 20, 2021
SNIP: A Washington State report put it bluntly: Because of the devastating effects of climate change and deteriorating habitats, several species of salmon in the Pacific Northwest are “on the brink of extinction.”
Of the 14 species of salmon and steelhead trout in Washington State that have been deemed endangered and are protected under the Endangered Species Act, 10 are lagging recovery goals and five of those are considered “in crisis,” according to the 2020 State of Salmon in Watersheds report, which was released last week.
“Time is running out,” said the report, which is produced every other year by the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office. “The climate is changing, rivers are warming, habitat is diminishing, and the natural systems that support salmon in the Pacific Northwest need help now more than ever.”
Researchers say recovery efforts — involving state and federal agencies, Native American tribes, local conservation groups and others — have helped slow the decline of some salmon populations. The report found that two species — the Hood Canal summer chum and Snake River fall chinook — were approaching their recovery goals. It also noted that no new salmon species had been added to the endangered list since 2007.
“We are at least treading water,” said Kaleen Cottingham, director of the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office. “We have not, however, seen the kind of progress that we had hoped for.”
With the effects of climate change expected to accelerate, researchers said that more must be done to prevent further population decline and the possible extinction of some species.
“We’re at a crossroads,” said Erik Neatherlin, the executive coordinator of the Governor’s Salmon Recovery Office in Washington. “There is a lot at stake. If we continue doing the things the way we’ve always done them, we’ll just continue to see a slow decline. Or we can think about where we’re going and change course.”