Twenty years of federal and local efforts to save the Oregon chub, a tiny minnow found only in the Willamette River Basin floodplain, have brought the fish to the verge of being taken off the endangered species list.
If the effort is successful, the chub will be the first fish de-listed because its species is considered recovered.
Chub thrive in habitats with little water flow and were imperiled by habitat loss and threats from nonnative fish.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and private landowners collaborated to restore habitat and natural water flows. A program educated private property owners how to manage the species on their land, in some cases reintroducing the fish to local waterways.
Chub were listed as endangered in 1993 and down-listed as threatened in 2010. At the time of listing, fewer than 1,000 of the fish were known to exist in eight population groups. The current population stands at more than 150,000 fish at 80 locations.
In addition to the proposed delisting, the Fish and Wildlife Service intends to remove the chub's critical habitat designation throughout its range.
On Feb. 6 the proposal will be open to a 60-day public comment period. A final decision will be made next year.