More C.O. waterways added to Oregon’s ‘essential salmonid’ habitat

Feb 02, 2021

KTVZ

More C.O. waterways added to Oregon’s ‘essential salmonid’ habitat BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- The Oregon Department of State Lands announced Tuesday it has updated the state’s essential salmonid habitat map and now is seeking the public’s comments on those updates, which include areas of Central Oregon.

Ali Ryan Hansen, a communications manger at DSL, said one of the things they are trying to to do is raise awareness to landowners and others of the essential salmonid habit, so they can help protect it.

"Now is a really good time, if you’ve never checked that map, and if you live along the stream, it’s a perfect time to go check the map," Hansen said. "You may find that you already have essential habitat in your backyard. You may find that your stream is being proposed as new essential habitat. This is the perfect time to head to that map and check it out."

Created with Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife data, the map identifies streams where sensitive, threatened or endangered salmonid fish species – including Chinook salmon and steelhead trout -- lay eggs and where their young fish grow.

The updated map adds 1,700 stream miles – about 8% more than the existing map – for a statewide total of about 22,300 stream miles of essential salmonid habitat.

The new map also adds more Central Oregon streams and waterways as essential habitat, including a stretch of Pole Creek south of Sisters, and Lake Billy Chinook.

Will Barkley, a shop assistant at Bend Fly Shop, said, "I think that any time we can take further steps to protect these fish in their waters and their habitats, I think it’s a good idea."

Areas on the map have greater protections under state law, as they are considered important habitat. A DSL removal-fill permit is likely required to remove or add any materials, such as building docks or adding riprap in the areas mapped as essential salmonid habitat.

Along with adding more protected stream miles, DSL is also proposing to update the map (last updated in 2015) more regularly, using the most current ODFW data.

DSL Director Vicki Walker said, “Having a map that shows current, accurate data helps Oregon protect waters that are critical for salmon species to thrive.”

With the guidance of a rule advisory committee, DSL developed the proposed process for map updates, which would occur as often as yearly and include a public review and comment period. Ongoing engagement with Oregon tribes and efforts to increase awareness of essential salmonid habitat are also proposed.

Review the updated map, the draft rule outlining the process for future map updates, and other information about proposed changes on the DSL website.

DSL has also created a new email list to share essential salmonid habitat map updates and information. Join the email list.

Public Meetings Set for February 16 and 17
Public meetings will be held via Zoom on Tuesday, Feb. 16 at 3 p.m. and Wednesday, Feb. 17 at 5 p.m. DSL will provide an overview of essential salmonid habitat, then take comment in a public hearing. Meeting links and call-in information are on the DSL website. If no participants join in the first 15 minutes, DSL will end the meeting.

Comment may also be submitted by online form, emailed to rules@dsl.state.or.us, or mailed to DSL at 775 Summer Street NE, Suite 100, Salem, OR 97301.

The comment deadline is Thursday, March 4 at 5 p.m.

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