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Salmon Plate Gets Overhaul After 23 Years


A license plate that allows Oregonians to show their support for salmon will get its first overhaul since it was introduced 23 years ago.



The plate raises money for salmon habitat restoration and costs an extra $15 per year.


A new full-color design will debut in September.


"You can see the bright, red side of the spawning salmon, swimming underwater in a clear, cool stream with a rocky bottom," said Chris Havel of the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department. "And if you look carefully, you'll see salmon eggs on the gravel below those spawning fish."


There are two reasons for the update, said Havel.

“First, to take advantage of the new technology and really show something beautiful that people would be proud to put on their vehicles," he said. "And second, to compete a little better, frankly, with the other plates that are out there.”

Whenit debuted in 1998, the salmon plate was one of the only options for drivers who wanted something other than the standard "tree background" plate that appears on most Oregon vehicles. Now, there are nearly a dozen backgrounds, including plates that depict bicyclists, wine country and Crater Lake.

Havel said the plate has raised more than $8 million in funding for salmon habit since it was introduced in 1998.


Revenue from sales of the plate peaked in 2002, and has declined by 47% since then, according to figures from the Oregon DMV.


Existing salmon license plates will remain valid.


Chris Lehman has been reporting on Oregon issues since 2006. He joined the KLCC news department in December, 2018. Chris was born and raised in Pennsylvania, and graduated from Temple University with a degree in journalism. His public broadcasting career includes stops in Louisiana and Illinois. Chris has filed for national programs including “Morning Edition” and “All Things Considered.”
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