MCKENZIE BRIDGE, Oregon (STPNS) -- The Oregon chub on Tuesday 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 today 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 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.



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,” said Melcher. “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.

Over the last two decades, biologists worked closely with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to manage flows and temperatures to benefit native fish including Oregon chub, coordinating with the McKenzie River Trust to identify high quality habitats for land acquisition, working with the Middle Fork Willamette, Santiam, and Long Tom Watershed Councils to identify private landowners who were willing to enhance and protect chub habitats, and coordinated with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Forest Service, Oregon Parks and Recreation and Oregon Department of Transportation to protect, enhance, and create habitat on lands that they manage.

The recovery effort was spearheaded by the Oregon Chub Working Group, which includes representatives from the ODFW, 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, ODFW’s Oregon chub project leader.