Federal biologists have decided Endangered Species Act protection is not warranted for chinook salmon from the upper Klamath and Trinity rivers in Northern California and Oregon.
The decision from NOAA Fisheries Service was published Monday in the Federal Register.
Conservation groups had sought protection particularly for chinook that migrate up the rivers in spring. Their numbers have declined to less than 3,000 surviving to spawn each year.
But federal biologists found that spring chinook are part of the same genetic group as chinook returning in the fall, which this year are expected to hit record numbers.
The decision comes as the government considers whether to remove four dams on the Klamath to open salmon habitat.
Protection would have further complicated already tough decisions on sharing water between fish and farms.
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