NW Salmon Advocates Buoyed By Judge’s Ruling

Liz Hamilton of the Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association is declaring victory after word that US District Court Judge James Redden in Portland has made a ruling on Federal dam operations in the Columbia River.

An AP story by Jeff Barnard says:

A federal judge in Oregon ruled Tuesday the Obama administration’s attempt to make federal hydroelectric dams in the Northwest safer for protected salmon violates the Endangered Species Act.

In a sternly worded ruling, U.S. District Judge James Redden in Portland, Ore., wrote that the plan, known as a biological opinion, is too vague and uncertain on specific steps that will be taken in future years to improve salmon habitat.

Redden added that he doesn’t think the government can meet the standards of the Endangered Species Act by habitat improvements alone, and it is time to consider new options, including removing some of the dams.

The judge left the plan in place through 2013, when federal agencies must come up with more specific projects to help salmon through 2018.

Scott Learn of The Oregonian reports:

The decision sends the exhaustive planback to federal agencies for a redo for the third time, with a focus on habitat improvement after 2013. The current plan stays in place until 2013, the judge said.

It’s a partial victory for environmental groups, the state of Oregon and the Nez Perce tribe, which opposed the plan.

It’s a partial loss for the federal government, a coalition of other Northwest tribes and river user groups, including irrigators and farmers.

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