The Oregon chub was rediscovered one year ago in the Molalla River and its tributaries.
The Oregon chub last week became the first fish in the United States to be taken off the federal Endangered Species List as the result of population recovery.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced the delisting Tuesday, Feb. 17, during a ceremony at Finley National Wildlife Refuge near Corvallis, which provides habitat for Oregon chub.
Listed as endangered in 1993, when there were only about 1,000 of the fish remaining, the Oregon chub has grown to an estimated 140,000 fish. The recovery was attributed to a multi-agency campaign to recover the Oregon chub population through securing new habitat, improving floodplain management and transplanting fish to more than 20 new locations.
The recovery effort was spearheaded by the Oregon Chub Working Group, which includes representatives from the ODFW, Molalla River Watch, Molalla River Alliance, 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. The voluntary assistance of private landowners was also pivotal to the recovery effort, according to Brian Bangs, ODFWs Oregon chub project leader.
John Atkins, president of Molalla River Alliance, motored down to Corvallis to witness the ceremonial delisting of the Oregon Chub, which was first found in the Molalla River and its tributaries about one year ago, after a long absence from the Willamette Basin.
This little fish is indigenous to the Willamette Basin, and is the first fish ever proactively to be taken off the endangered species list, Atkins said. Others have been taken off the list, but only because they became extinct. The Molalla River now has a healthy and growing population of these chub. The Molalla River Alliance and Molalla River Watch were among the numerous state and federal agencies, property owners, and conservation organizations that were recognized during the proceedings. Attached is a flyer with impressive info about this successful recovery effort.
Curt Melcher, director of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, said Oregon is proud to have the first fish to achieve delisting and hailed this accomplishment as a major milestone under the Endangered Species Act and a testament to the power of cooperation and collaboration.
The Oregon chub is the first fish in the nation to be recovered under the Endangered Species Act because of the sustained effort by many individuals and organizations, Melcher said.
Collaborating and applying the best possible science helped recover the Oregon chub and benefited many other species as well. Our success here is a good reminder that by working together species recovery is possible.
The Oregon chub (Oregonichthys crameri) is a small minnow found only in the Willamette River basin of western Oregon. This little speckled fish reaches a maximum length of 3 inches and spends its entire life in low velocity sloughs and marshes.
At one time, Oregon chub thrived throughout lowland areas of the Willamette Valley. However, their numbers declined due to habitat losses associated with flood control, dam construction, and agricultural practices, coupled with competition and predation from the introduction of nonnative species such as bass, bluegill and mosquitofish.
For more information, visit ODFWs Oregon chub webpage at www.dfw.state.or.us/fish/species/chub.asp.