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Threatened and Endangered Species

Threatened and Endangered Species

Changes in the environment and species competition are factors that naturally lead to evolution and extinction. Historically this has been a natural process driving the way plants and animals look and respond to these changes. However, over the last 200 years, humankind has both wrought major changes on the landscape and overexploited many species, which has resulted in many species becoming extinct. When a species becomes extinct, a tremendous natural and aesthetic resource is lost forever.

Oregon is one of the places in the U.S. where endangered species conservation has significantly impacted the culture and psyche of the state, with the greatest impacts occurring in the Willamette Basin. The federal listing of the Northern Spotted Owl by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, followed by the listing of many of our salmon by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), caused Bruce Babbitt, the then Secretary of Interior, to call the state an Endangered Species train wreck.

However, with the development of two major voluntary efforts to conserve and restore at-risk species in Oregon, the Oregon Conservation Strategy, the public in Oregon has begun to embrace endangered species conservation. Extensive work by many landowners, non-profits, and agencies is under way. Some of the key programs and information are included here.