SPRINGFIELD, Ore. — An Oregon native is making national news. The tiny minnow or Chub is the first fish species proposed to be de-listed under the Endangered Species Act. The Oregon Chub is only found in the Oregon Willamette Valley. When the species was first listed back in 1993, there were under a thousand fish in eight locations. Now, after more than two decades worth of work, the numbers are up and environmentalists are looking forward to taking them off that same list.
For the many local environmentalists gathered at one of the McKenzie River Trust’s watershed conservation area properties in Springfield, Tuesday was a day of celebration. And that is because on Tuesday, conservationists celebrated the recovery of a once endangered species and its habitat. More importantly, they celebrated what these things, that act, symbolizes.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Regional Director Robyn Thorson says, “The Oregon Chub might be small in size, but it is big in stature. We are making history today.”
McKenzie River Trust Director Joe Moll says, “A living river doesn’t just produce Chub or Chinook Salmon or Rainbow Trout. It produces Warblers and Ducks. It produces boat trips, power and it produces clean water, clean cold water. This is what we drink. This is what we bathe in. This is what we build our communities around.”
They also recognized the importance of connections, relationships and this case partnerships.
Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife Biologist Paul Scheerer says, “Having the Chub recover demonstrated that we can actually work together and recover fish.”
“It’s more than just about a fish. And it’s more than about science. It’s really about values and what we care about,” says Thorson.
So, while Tuesday’s event highlighted this tiny, inconspicuous, minnow, the Oregon Chub, it’s also about the many ordinary heroes that made this moment possible.
Environmentalists say while this is a huge milestone, the work isn’t necessarily over. Invasive species were a big factor in the Chub’s decline and so they’re asking folks to be sure to not introduce any foreign species into these waters, by doing things like dumping out your aquarium pets into these wild habitats.