About Recovery Planning in Southern Oregon & Northern California

Southern Oregon/Northern California Coast (SONCC) coho, Northern California steelhead, and California Coastal Chinook were listed as threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 2005, 2006 and 1999, respectively. Working with federal, state, tribal, and local partners, NOAA Fisheries adopted a recovery plan for SONCC coho salmon in 2014. Recovery plans for Northern California steelhead and California Coastal Chinook are under development. 

The SONCC coho salmon recovery plan serves as a framework to recover the species' 40 populations across California and Oregon. It provides an informed, strategic, and voluntary approach that is based on the best available science and meets the standards of the ESA. The plan is based on the premise that ecological conditions must improve and human-induced threats reduced. To this end, the plan identifies strategies for each life stage of coho salmon – from their time as juveniles in freshwater habitat, through their maturation in marine waters, and their return to natal spawning beds. It calls for restoring riparian forest conditions by improving land use practices; restoring floodplains and channel structure by increasing the amount of large wood in streams, re-establishing off-channel habitats, and reconfiguring dikes and levees; improving stream flows by changing the timing or volume of water releases and reducing diversions; restoring passage for coho by renovating dams, culverts, and other barriers; and restoring estuarine habitat, among a suite of additional actions.

Implementing recovery plans is an adaptive process. Comprehensive monitoring and evaluation helps to prioritize and select the right projects in the right places. This ensures investments are focused on the greatest needs of the species. In addition, these investments provide substantial benefits to local communities. Habitat restoration, for example, creates jobs at a level comparable to traditional infrastructure investments, such as road and water projects. Restored habitat also improves water supplies, reduces property damage from flooding, and limits risks associated with high severity fire, among other recreational and cultural benefits.