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Species Spotlight: Recovering the Oregon chub through conservation partnerships

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chubOregon chub populations were in steep decline due to habitat loss and nonnative species predation in 1993 when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) listed the Oregon native minnow under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

This installment of Species Spotlight takes a closer look at partnership-driven conservation efforts since then by private landowners and conservation groups, as well as state, tribal and federal entities. That work helped grow populations and, in 2015, resulted in the Oregon chub becoming the first fish to be delisted under the ESA.

CONSERVATION ACTIONS

The recovery effort was spearheaded by the Oregon Chub Working Group, which includes representatives from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, USFWS, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Forest Service, Oregon State Parks, Oregon State University, the McKenzie River Trust, the Grand Ronde Tribe and others.

Private landowners played a significant role in restoring floodplain habitat for the Oregon chub. The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) funded wetland restoration projects on private lands and also worked closely with landowners to secure conservation easements to provide long-term protection for chub habitat. USFWS utilized Safe Harbor Agreements with private landowners, who voluntarily provided or restored chub habitat in exchange for formal assurances that they would not be subject to mandatory conservation actions in the future. 

RESULTS

Originally listed under the ESA as "endangered" in 1993 and reclassified as "threatened" in 2010, the Oregon chub was delisted in 2015.

There are now over 140,000 chub fish in 80 populations throughout Oregon's Willamette River Valley. In addition to delisting the species, partnership-driven conservation actions have improved management of the area as a whole by increasing opportunities for recreation, improving flood control and water quality, and restoring floodplain habitat for other species in the ecosystem.

Species Spotlight, a case study series examining the challenges and opportunities in species conservation, is part of the Western Governors' Species Conservation and Endangered Species Act Initiative, the Chairman's Initiative of Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead.

More in the Species Spotlight series: 

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