U.S. Water News Online
PORTLAND, Ore. -- Several groups filed a rulemaking petition with the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and the citizen commission which sets policy for that agency, the Environmental Quality Commission (EQC). The petition asks the state to adopt rules that prohibit new or increased waste discharges on certain critical salmon- and trout-bearing water bodies.
The groups filing the rulemaking petition are: the Northwest Environmental Defense Center (NEDC), the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations (PCFFA), and the Institute for Fisheries Resources (IFR). NEDC is an Oregon non-profit group, formed over 25 years ago by citizens, attorneys, and students concerned about the preservation of natural resources in the Pacific Northwest. PCFFA is the largest organization of commercial fishermen on the west coast. IFR is a non-profit fisheries conservation organization affiliated with PCFFA, but focusing primarily on salmon restoration and protection.
The petition filed is another effort by NEDC, PCFFA, IFR and other conservation groups to force the state of Oregon to protect the remaining populations of Pacific coho salmon and the endangered Umpqua sea-run cutthroat trout. Previous NEDC efforts include suits against the Bonneville Power Administration, under the Northwest Power Planning Act's equitable treatment for fish clause.
The petition was filed in conjunction with similar prior efforts by six other non-profit groups including the Coast Range Association, Oregon Trout, the National Audubon Society, the Portland Audubon Society, the Tenmile Creek Association, and WaterWatch of Oregon.
The proposed rules would protect the water quality of coastal streams which provide critical habitat for currently depressed and threatened populations of wild Pacific coho salmon and endangered native Umpqua cutthroat trout. The rules would provide protection for water bodies in the North Coast, Mid Coast, South Coast, Umpqua, and Rogue River Basins.
According to NEDC president Bart Brush, the rules are needed because the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife issued a report in 1992 that found the populations of Pacific coho salmon in each of the water bodies affected by the proposed rules to be critically depressed. In addition, in August 1996, the National Marine Fisheries Service listed the Umpqua cutthroat trout as an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act. During the same period, DEQ has identified many of these streams to be in violation of water quality standards, according to officials. In addition, many of these streams are designated as National Wild and Scenic Rivers, State Scenic Waterways, or flow through state parks.
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