Monday, June 1, 2009

Endangered Species Day Success for Oregon Chub

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced the proposed reclassification of the Oregon Chub on May 15th coinciding with this year's Endangered Species Day. The Oregon Chub was listed as endangered in 1993 after modern dams drastically altered it's habitat and predatory non native fish further stressed the population to near extinction.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service implemented a recovery plan for the Oregon Chub calling for reclassification when 10 large populations were found throughout it's range. The efforts established new populations bringing to 35 the known populations in it's historic range. Amongst those 35 groups, 19 have more than 500 individual fishes.

The 3 inch long minnow is, however, still at risk. It is found only in Oregon and lives in the ponds, marshes and backwater sloughs of the Willamette River basin, an area at significant risk due to climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicts via scientific modeling that annual average temperatures in the Upper Willamette will rise 1-3 degrees Fahrenheit by 2040 and by 6 to 8 degrees Fahrenheit by 2080 (full report here). Such a change could then threaten cold-water species such as the steelhead, Chinook salmon and the Oregon chub. While the near term impacts may be nearly unavoidable, the long term severity of the change could be mitigated by actions such as those outlined in the ACES bill. Further, it illustrates the importance of natural resource adaptation funding. It's only with sufficient resources that wildlife and wilderness can be safeguarded from the effects of climate change. You can help by calling your Congressperson and asking them to support HR 2454 (the American Clean Energy and Security Act) and in specific the wildlife adaptation funding provisions as currently contained in the bill.

You can contact your member of Congress by calling the US Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121.

For more information about safeguarding species in a warming world visit the ESC website.

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