Pacific Northwest Coastal Rivers & Streams

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Crater Lake National Park, in the headwaters of the Klamath and Rogue Rivers, USA.
© WWF-Canon / Jamie PITTOCK

About the Area

The rivers and streams of northwestern United States, specifically the Sacramento/San Joaquin River basin in the Central Valley of California, the Klamath River basin, and coastal streams and rivers of Oregon, contain many endemic species.

These rivers support large numbers of migratory fish that ascend from the ocean to freshwater environments to spawn. Important not only as a spectacular natural phenomenon, this migration also helps the transfer of nutrients from marine to freshwater environments.

However, introduced species threaten native fish and invertebrates; of the present-day fish fauna in the region, nearly 40 per cent may be introduced species, most from eastern North America.
Size:
290,000 sq. km (110,000 sq. miles)

Habitat type:

Small Rivers

Geographic Location:
North America: California, Oregon, and Washington

Conservation Status:
Critical/Endangered
Local Species
The most prominent migrating species are salmon, including Pink (Oncorhynchus gorbuscha), Chum (O. keta), Chinook (O. tshawytscha), Coho (O. kisutch), and Sockeye (O. nerka). Other migrating fish include multiple species of trout, lamprey, sturgeon, sculpin, and stickleback.

Some of the endemic fish species are Pit-Klamath brook lamprey (Lampetra lethophaga), Western brook lamprey (L. richardsoni), White sturgeon (Acipenser transmontanus), Sacramento blackfish (Orthodon microlepidontus), Klamath smallscale sucker (Catostomus rimiculus), and Sacramento squawfish (Ptychocheilus grandis). Endemic invertebrates include Shasta crayfish (Pacifastacus fortis) and endemic syncarid shrimp species (Syncaris spp.).
 / ©: WWF-Canon / Michel ROGGO
Pacific or pink salmon (Oncorhynchus gorbuscha).
© WWF-Canon / Michel ROGGO

Featured species

Sacramento squawfish (Ptychocheilus grandis)

This fish grows upto to 3' (91 cm). Elongate, slightly compressed; back dark olive-brown; sides silvery-grayish; young have dark caudal spot. Head long, flattened above; mouth terminal, large, extends to small eye; no barbels. Fins plain, reddish in males; 8 dorsal fin rays, origin behind pelvic fin insertion; 8 anal fin rays; caudal fin moderately forked. Habitat Clear, deep pools over sand and rocks in creeks, rivers, and lakes.

This fish was once considered a major predator of young salmons, but while both fishes may compete for food and space, most waters inhabited by Sacramento Squawfish are too warm for young salmons and trouts.

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Threats
Logging, introduced species, water diversion, and impoundments have resulted in serious problems like siltation, increased water temperatures, altered flow regimes, and disruption of fish migration routes. In addition, there is growing concern that warming ocean temperatures may adversely affect migrating salmonids during the oceanic portion of their life cycle.

Anadromous fish (those that migrate from freshwater to the ocean and back to freshwater) have suffered great losses in the face of huge changes to their habitats over the last 100 years. For example, coho salmon in California are at less than 5 percent of their historic numbers.
 / ©: WWF-Canon / Edward PARKER
Logging close to the edge of Yosemite National Park, California, USA.
© WWF-Canon / Edward PARKER
WWF’s work

15 Nov 2001
Miami, Florida - Each year, WWF, the conservation organization makes various awards to honour those who have made outstanding contributions to or achievements in conservation. Recipients of the various awards will be honoured at a ceremony during WWF's annual conference in Miami, Florida today.

Dave Willis
Mr. Willis is being presented with the Conservation Merit Award in recognition of his dedication and personal commitment to conservation in the Pacific Northwest and in particular his work to protect the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument. A staunch advocate of conservation in the Pacific Northwest, Dave Willis was personally involved in some of the first 1983 demonstrations against logging Northwest ancient forests. These actions helped give the ancient forest movement critical mass and helped lead to the protection of thousands of acres of old growth forests.

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