louis martin
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California North Coast--

There are few good deals these days and fewer winners. But perhaps the Salmon Disaster Relief Restoration Program is that rare exception.

Displaced salmon fishermen are being employed, damaged habitat is being restored, and private landowners are cooperating.

Sounds unreal? Maybe that's just the way the good news sounds these days.

Take the case of much-maligned Pacific Lumber Corporation. That's the company that has threatened to log the Headwaters Forest, the last remaining large stand of old-growth timber in private ownership.

But when it comes to restoring the health of salmon habitat on company property, the company has been "very cooperative," said Paula Yoon, administrative coordinator for the restoration project.

"Pacific Lumber Company," said Yoon, "is a very controversial news item these days. But they are also doing very positive things with their cooperative fisheries restoration operation." She cites as an example the watershed assessment work the company is doing in the Fresh Water Creek area. The assessment involves the impact of roads, which Yoon says are a major contributor to creek degradation.

Perhaps the company is doing it because it cares. But even if it doesn't, it's a good deal for Pacific Lumber and other big landowners to cooperate. That's because the work is free.

It is done by displaced salmon fishermen who are being employed under a 2.2 million dollar program from the federal government to restore salmon habitat on private lands. The program goes by two names: The Northwest Economic Assistance Program and Salmon Disaster Relief Restoration Program. It is a 2-year program that runs to the end of 1996.

Program funds come from federal natural disaster relief funds. "It was tied to the El Nino conditions of the Pacific Northwest," said Yoon. The El Nino conditions were particularly hard on salmon because salmon had "degraded conditions to deal with on the land side," as well as poor ocean conditions, said Yoon.

There are a total of 26 on-going restoration projects in Northern California. Particular projects are in Sonoma, Mendocino, Humbolt, and Del Norte counties.



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