Court Orders Extension
Salmon have a friend in the federal court system.
Federal District Court Judge James A. Redden ordered Tuesday an agreement between representatives of federal and state agencies and fishing and conservation groups to ensure critical in-river fish passage measures to help endangered salmon survive in the Columbia and Snake River basin will be extended through 2008.
The agreement ensures that additional water will be spilled over dams on the Columbia and Snake rivers during the crucial spring and summer salmon migrations. This spill, which creates more natural river conditions for salmon by releasing water over the dams, is widely considered the safest and most effective way to ensure young fish survive the dams on their downstream journey to the ocean.
Under the measures to be implemented by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Bonneville Power Administration, spill and flow levels for 2008 will be roughly equivalent to those mandated by the court in 2005 for the 2006 migration season, and implemented again by agreement and court order last year.
"The court's order is good news for fish and fishing communities in the Columbia River basin, but we are still a long way from solving this problem," said Todd True of Earthjustice, lead attorney for the fishing and conservation interests. "The federal agencies still must deliver a final plan that makes the major changes in dams and dam operations that our region needs."
The federal agencies have been given until May 5 to deliver a new final biological opinion that will guide salmon recovery efforts in the seven-state Columbia and Snake River basin for the next decade. The previous plan was thrown out by the court for its failure to meet the requirements of the Endangered Species Act to protect and restore imperiled salmon in the region. That ruling was soundly upheld by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.
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