Do More to Help Salmon, Judge Says
by Associated Press
The Oregonian, May 18, 2009
The federal judge overseeing the long-running dispute over how to balance Columbia Basin energy and utility needs with those of imperiled salmon and steelhead is telling federal agencies they need to do more to help the salmon survive, or he will find the latest restoration plan in violation of the Endangered Species Act.
A Monday letter from U.S. District Judge James Redden to lawyers for all sides says he continues to have "serious reservations" because the standard for success of the biological opinion is not strong enough.
He adds that many of the habitat improvements are not supported by scientific evidence, there is no rational explanation for reducing the amount of water spilled over the dams to help fish, and there is still no backup plan if this does not work.
The judge warns that the government has spent the last decade "treading water" and "we cannot afford to waste another decade."
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