NOAA designates Critical Habitat for Threatened Lower Columbia River Coho Salmon and Puget Sound Steelhead
76 Fed. Reg. 1392 (Monday, January 10, 2011) / Proposed Rules
DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
50 CFR Part 226 / Docket No. 101220626–0626–01 / RIN 0648–XA083
Endangered and Threatened Species: Designation of Critical Habitat for Threatened Lower Columbia River Coho Salmon and Puget Sound Steelhead
AGENCY: National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.
ACTION: Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking; request for information.
SUMMARY: We, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), will prepare critical habitat designation proposals for lower Columbia River (LCR) coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch) and Puget Sound steelhead (O. mykiss) currently listed as threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The areas under consideration include watersheds in the lower Columbia River basin in southwest Washington and northwest Oregon, as well as watersheds in Puget Sound and the Strait of Juan de Fuca in Washington. This advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPR) identifies issues for consideration and evaluation and solicits comments regarding them as well as information about the areas and species under consideration. DATES: Comments and information regarding the designation process and areas being considered for designation as critical habitat may be sent to us (See ADDRESSES), no later than 5 p.m. Pacific Time on March 11, 2011.
Pacific salmon and steelhead are anadromous fish, meaning adults migrate from the ocean to spawn in freshwater lakes and streams where their offspring hatch and rear prior to migrating back to the ocean to forage until maturity. The migration and spawning times vary considerably between and within species and populations. At spawning, adults pair to lay and fertilize thousands of eggs in freshwater gravel nests or ‘‘redds’’ excavated by females. Depending on lake/stream temperatures, eggs incubate for several weeks to months before hatching as ‘‘alevins’’ (a larval life stage dependent on food stored in a yolk sac). Following yolk sac absorption, alevins emerge from the gravel as young juveniles called ‘‘fry’’ and begin actively feeding. Depending on the species and location, juveniles may spend from a few hours to several years in freshwater areas before migrating to the ocean. Image from FWS.