Restoring Coho Salmon for Future Generations
The Siuslaw River once supported one of the largest runs of wild Coho salmon along the Oregon Coast, second only to the Columbia River. Over the past 200 years, natural resource management and development in the Siuslaw watershed have contributed to a long and steady decline of the salmon population.
Along the Oregon coast, Coho salmon are listed as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act. In some years only 1% of historic populations return to the Siuslaw from the Pacific.
As the Watershed Conservationist for the Siuslaw Soil and Water Conservation District, Seth Mead works with private landowners, tribes, non-profit organizations and government agencies across the Siuslaw and Coastal Lakes watersheds to restore and enhance Coho salmon habitat.
Siuslaw Coho salmon were listed as threatened in part due to the loss of quality habitat including freshwater and estuarine refugia. Now, climate change and other uncertain trends in watershed health are raising even more concern among managers. As a threatened species, Coho populations face significant risk at a level that may push it towards becoming endangered. If Coho salmon become endangered, it means a significant enough portion of their population is at risk that the species is close to facing extinction in the foreseeable future.
As Seth works throughout the watershed, he is utilizing knowledge gained from decades of monitoring and research that focuses on restoring the stream channels and other features throughout the watershed. This approach will have long-lasting benefits for salmon, as well as other native aquatic species, ensuring our communities can enjoy the diversity of riverine life supported by a healthy Siuslaw for generations to come.