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Controversy Over Listing

Endangered species

Oregon conservationists want the federal government to protect the Great Basin redband rainbow trout found in the high desert lakes and streams of southeastern Oregon.

Joy Belsk of the Oregon Natural Desert Association said the trout are in danger of extinction because of habitat loss.

“Heavy livestock grazing, irrigation and logging have turned unique desert streams into hot, stagnant pools,” she said.

The desert association is one of four conservation groups expected to ask the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to declare six Great Basin redband populations as either threatened or endangered species.

“The redband knew the sabertooth and mastodon when they roamed this landscape,” said Bill Bakke of the Native Fish Society. “They are so old and uniquely tuned to their harsh and beautiful places that they are distinct and rare. Now it’s time to make sure they survive.”

The agency has a year to respond to the request. Recently, ranchers in the Catlow Valley voluntarily agreed to help improve trout habitat.

Meanwhile in Douglas County, commissioners have decided to ask the courts to force the federal government to take the Umpqua sea-run cutthroat trout off the endangered species list.

They claim the government failed to use the best scientific evidence last year when it determined the fish was in danger of extinction.

The listing has affected timber and agriculture and hindered county’s plans to build a dam.