Oregon Chub Proposed for Reclassification of Listing Status on Endangered Species Day

Oregon Chub Proposed for Reclassification of Listing Status on Endangered Species Day

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to change the Endangered Species Act classification of the Oregon chub from endangered to threatened. Findings from a recently completed five-year review indicate that the status of the Oregon chub has improved substantially and that existing threats are not likely to put the chub in danger of extinction in the foreseeable future.

During the next 60 days the Service is seeking information, data and comments from the public regarding this proposal. Comments must be received by July 14, 2009.

Notice of this proposal will publish in the Federal Register on May 15, the same day the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will honor Endangered Species Day and the numerous nationwide conservation programs underway aimed at protecting America’s threatened and endangered species.

The Endangered Species Act (ESA), one of the most important environmental laws in history, is credited with saving 99.9 percent of species protected by the ESA from extinction. Co-administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the purpose of the ESA is to conserve imperiled species and the ecosystems upon which they depend.

The Oregon chub is now abundant and well-distributed throughout most of its historical range, which spans the Willamette Valley. Populations are currently found from the North Santiam River in the north to the Middle Fork Willamette River in the south.

The Fish and Wildlife Service listed the chub as endangered in 1993 after receiving a petition with conclusive data that cited a 98 percent reduction in the range of the species. Critical habitat was not designated at the time of listing, but a proposal is currently being developed.

The decline of the chub came about at a time when the environment of the Willamette River was undergoing large-scale changes. Extensive alteration of the Willamette and its tributaries resulted in the loss of the sloughs and side channels that provide important chub habitat. Non-native fishes have become established throughout the Willamette basin and are considered to be the greatest threat to the chub’s survival.

A recovery plan for Oregon chub established criteria for changing its status to threatened (downlisting) and for removing it from the list of endangered and threatened species (delisting). The plan recommended specific recovery actions that would protect existing sites, establish new populations, research the chub’s ecology and increase public involvement. The recovery plan determined that the species should be considered for reclassification to threatened when 10 large populations were distributed throughout the species’ range, with a stable or increasing trend for at least five years.

Along with implementing the recovery actions, a team of state and federal agencies joined together and funded extensive surveys for Oregon chub. The surveys led to the discovery of many new populations. In addition, successful reintroductions established nine new populations of chub within its historical range. These actions have contributed to a dramatic improvement in the status of the chub and, currently, there are 35 populations of Oregon chub distributed throughout the Willamette Valley. Of these, 19 have more than 500 individuals.

The Service commonly works with other federal agencies, State and tribal governments, environmental organizations, industry groups, species experts, academia, the scientific community, and other members of the public to conserve our Nation’s threatened and endangered fish, wildlife, and plants.

"Now, more than ever before, we need the contributions of our partners to achieve recovery and conservation of Americas imperiled species," said Endangered Species Assistant Director Bryan Arroyo. "Leveraging the resources, experience and expertise of a wide range of partners is vital to our combined success."

Two Safe Harbor Agreements are already in place to guide management of Oregon chub populations on private lands, and the Fish and Wildlife Service is preparing to extend the program to allow more private landowners to participate.

The Oregon chub is a small minnow, less than 3.5 inches long, and is endemic (unique to a specific place) to the Willamette River Basin in western Oregon. The chub has an olive-colored back, grading to silver on the sides and white on the belly. Oregon chub thrive in slack water habitats such as beaver ponds, oxbows, side channels, backwater sloughs, low gradient tributaries and flooded marshes, which provide abundant aquatic vegetation for hiding and spawning cover. In wild populations, adult Oregon chub live up to nine years.

Please submit your comments by July 14, 2009, by one of the following methods:
• Go to the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov and follow the instructions for submitting comments;
• U.S. mail or hand-delivery: Public Comments Processing, Attn: RIN 1018-AW42; Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 222; Arlington, VA 22203.
• We cannot accept e-mail or faxes.
• We will post all comments on http://www.regulations.gov.

The bald eagle, grizzly bear, American alligator and gray wolf are all species which once found themselves on the list, facing the brink of extinction but have successfully rebounded. In addition to the Oregon chub, the wood stork, Kirtland’s warbler, Louisiana black bear and Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle are listed species that are showing good progress towards achieving recovery – the ultimate goal of the ESA. These recovered and recovering species are just a few examples of those benefiting from the protections afforded by the ESA.

There are currently 1,317 species listed in the U.S.: 746 plants and 571 animals. To find out what endangered species are near you, and how you can help, please visit