Clean Water for Salmon

Courtesy of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

Despite years of effort to recover endangered and threatened Pacific salmon and steelhead, some of the most toxic pesticides still legal in America continue to enter their habitat. In the Pacific Northwest and California, 17 runs of salmon and 11 runs of steelhead listed as endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) are exposed to pesticide contamination. Fish and other aquatic organisms are particularly vulnerable to pesticide contamination of water, since pesticides can be carried far downstream and aquatic organisms are immersed throughout their lives. 

NCAP and its partners have been fighting for clean water for salmon since 2001, pushing the EPA to assess and reconsider registration and label requirements for 54 of the worst pesticides.  Our work has compelled the EPA to consider endangered species in pesticide re-registration decisions.  For salmon, NCAP’s efforts resulted in interim no-spray buffer protections along salmon-bearing waters until assessments (known as consultations) are complete.  

Much remains to be done, as permanent and effective protections of salmon and steelhead habitat from pesticide contamination are not yet guaranteed.  Until 2014, the EPA allowed buffers to lapse after consultations were complete, even when the consultations show a significant adverse impact and the EPA had not implemented protective measures. 

In 2014, NCAP won a victory, with a settlement agreement requiring the EPA to reinstate no-spray buffer zones for five organophosphate and carbamate pesticides in salmon and steelhead habitat across Oregon, Washington and California. We are working to make sure farmers and applicators are aware of the buffers to reduce pesticide runoff into salmon waters.  We will also work with growers, university researchers, state and federal agencies, and other partners to encourage effective alternatives to these pesticides.

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Here's how you can help:

Salmon Buffers

Help us get the word out about the newly enacted no-spray buffers to protect salmon from pesticides.

A Preliminary Investigation: Growers Learning About and Implementing Mandatory Streamside Pesticide Buffers

In 2015, NCAP undertook an effort to understand how well the buffers are being communicated. NCAP looked at state efforts to inform applicators of these requirements. In addition, NCAP conducted a survey of grower contacts and advisors to assess the level of understanding of the buffers among key farmer contacts. Read our report here!

Salmon Heroes

This video series showcases salmon heroes making a difference in their communities. Get inspired to help salmon in your community!

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  • commented 2017-09-05 16:50:37 -0700
    I respectfully suggest there is no need for a strategic planning session to decide to oppose aerial herbicide spraying. That used to be NCAP’s view, back when the group helped stop aerial sprays in the National Forests, there is no logical reason to be hesitant to suggest a ban for the corporate timberlands, not even if some Democratic politicians think clearcuts and poisons are good. I doubt any of you would want to stand “300 feet” from a helicopter spray operation. Buffers are the promise of regulation, totally unenforceable and a poor substitute for prevention.
  • commented 2017-09-05 15:33:14 -0700
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and concerns Mark. We will take them into consideration during our next strategic planning session.
  • commented 2017-09-04 14:59:35 -0700
    Compromise is often necessary, but it ought not to originate with environmental leaders. Our role is to hold fast to what we believe is right, to fight for it, to find allies, and to adduce all possible arguments for our cause. If we cannot find enough vigor in us or our friends to win, then let someone else propose the compromise, which we must then work hard to coax our way. We thus become a nucleus around which activists can build and function.
    - David Brower, Earth Island Institute, Friends of the Earth, Sierra Club

    Thus, confronted by powerful corporate opposition, the environmental movement has split in two. The older national environmental organizations, in their Washington offices, have taken the soft path of negotiation, compromising with the corporations about how much pollution is acceptable … The people living in the polluted communities have taken the hard path of confrontation … The national organizations deal with the environmental disease by negotiating about the kind of “Band-Aid” to apply to it; the community groups deal with the disease by trying to prevent it.
    - Barry Commoner, “Making Peace With the Planet”
  • commented 2017-09-04 14:58:49 -0700
    300 ft. buffers for aerial spray is ridiculous. Helicopter rotors blow the poisons far farther than that.

    Why doesn’t NCAP call for ENDING aerial spray, as it did with the federal forests in the 1980s?
  • commented 2016-04-25 10:43:30 -0700
    great work!