No cut after all to Caspian tern habitat on Columbia

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PORTLAND — Federal regulators have decided not to shrink Caspian tern habitat on East Sand Island near the mouth of the Columbia River in efforts to reduce the number of juvenile salmon and steelhead they feed on.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers proposed the reduction in January. But the Corps recommended no action in the environmental review it released Monday.

The proposal was to cut nesting habitat from 1.58 acres to 1.08 acres to decrease the number of birds and protect endangered fish.

But the Corps said drought conditions could result in terns just relocating farther upstream.

By keeping the habitat intact, regulators hope to keep more terns in the lower estuary where juvenile salmons represent less of a percentage of their diet than farther upriver.