Conservation groups are seeking Endangered Species Act protection for Chinook salmon in the Klamath River in Southern Oregon and Northern California.
The petition was filed Thursday with the National Marine Fisheries Service.
The petition says the number of spring run Chinook has severely declined.
Noah Greenwald with the Center for Biological Diversity in Portland says they were once the most abundant run of fish in the Klamath, numbering in the hundreds of thousands.
Noah Greenwald: “They’re now down to numbers less than a few thousand fish. So the spring run Chinook salmon have just been devastated by dams, and excessive irrigation, logging and other forms of habitat destruction in the Klamath Basin.”
Greenwald says there’s also cause for concern about fall Chinook.
If granted, protection would further complicate the tough decisions on sharing scarce water between fish and farms in the Klamath Basin.
Coho salmon and two species of suckers are already protected under the Endangered Species Act.