Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, April 6, 2017

Contact:  Noah Greenwald, (503) 484-7495,
Glen Spain, (541) 521-8655,
Nick Cady, (314) 482-3746,

Conservation, Fishing Groups Launch Lawsuit to Protect Coho Salmon From Oregon State Forest Logging

PORTLAND, Ore.— Four conservation and fishing groups today filed a formal notice of intent to sue the Oregon Department of Forestry for poor logging and road-use practices on the Tillamook and Clatsop state forests that are harming threatened coho salmon through landslides and erosion into streams.  

The groups filing the notice are the Center for Biological Diversity, Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations, Institute for Fisheries Resources and Cascadia Wildlands.

“The Oregon Department of Forestry has long known that its logging is harming coho salmon and streams on Oregon's North Coast,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director with the Center for Biological Diversity. “It's well past time the department changes its practices and truly protects our beloved salmon.”

Forestry department officials developed a draft habitat conservation plan in the early 2000s that would have given them a permit to cause some harm to threatened and endangered species, including the coho, marbled murrelet and spotted owl, in exchange for long-term habitat protections. The department, however, never finalized the plan in large part because it did not want to enact the stream protections that National Marine Fisheries Service scientists determined were necessary to ensure the coho's survival.

“Logging by the Oregon Department of Forestry is causing real harm to Oregon Coast coho and the commercial fishermen who depend on these magnificent fish for their livelihoods,” said Glen Spain, northwest regional director for both the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations (PCFFA) and the Institute of Fisheries Resources. “The department needs to enact more protections for streams to protect the coho, clean water and fishing-dependent jobs and communities.”

The two state forests contain nearly 500,000 acres on the Oregon North Coast essential to the survival of Oregon Coast coho. The lack of adequate stream protections on these lands was a primary basis for the decision to protect the fish under the Endangered Species Act by the National Marine Fisheries Service, which determined in a 2010 status review that “we are unable to conclude that the state forest management plans will provide for OC coho salmon habitat that is capable of supporting populations that are viable during both good and poor marine conditions.”

“Washington and California have both reformed logging practices to avoid harm to salmon and other endangered species, but the Oregon Department of Forestry has lagged behind,” said Nick Cady, legal director at Cascadia Wildlands. “Oregon needs to ensure that logging doesn't harm coho salmon and other species to comply with the Endangered Species Act and to do right by future generations.”

The Center for Biological Diversity filed a similar notice in 2014, but held off on litigation because state forestry department officials said they were working with stakeholders from the conservation community and the timber industry to develop a new management plan that would have potentially avoided harms to salmon and streams. Three years later, no such plan has materialized. 

Coho salmon

Photo courtesy Oregon Department of Forestry. This image is available for media use.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.2 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

The Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations (PCFFA) is a West Coast-wide federation of many different port, vessel and gear group organizations and is the largest commercial fishing industry trade association representing commercial fishing families on the U.S. West  Coast.  Institute for Fisheries Resources (IFR) is a marine fisheries protection organization closely affiliated with PCFFA, which has been working for more than 23 years on salmon habitat restoration efforts coastwide.

Cascadia Wildlands defends and restores Cascadia's wild ecosystems in the forests, in the courts, and in the streets. We envision vast old-growth forests, rivers full of salmon, wolves howling in the backcountry, and vibrant communities sustained by the unique landscapes of the Cascadia bioregion. Join our movement today.

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