Irrigators File Notice to Sue Feds
by Bill Rudolph
Two irrigator groups have filed a notice of intent to sue NOAA Fisheries and other federal agencies including the Bonneville Power Administration, the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U. S. Bureau of Reclamation. The groups, which filed the notice July 15, want the feds to fix structural flaws in the federal Biological Opinion. The groups said the flaws "create false standards for measuring hydro system impacts and place unrealistic conditions on what is defined as the 'risk of extinction' for ESA-listed fish runs."
The Columbia-Snake Irrigators Association and the Eastern Oregon Irrigators Association listed nine key elements they said should be fixed, including the arbitrary time frame for abundance data that exaggerated risk to the species and neglected to include the huge fish runs of the past several years.
The groups said federal authorities based the BiOp on an "Orwellian re-definition of the 'risk of extinction,'" and that Snake River spring/summer chinook "were considered extinct if computer projections showed that more than one of 43 runs dipped to zero at any point in the future."
The irrigators said it is wrong for the feds to give dam operators sole responsibility for guaranteeing salmon recovery. The BiOp pretends that virtually every fish that dies while migrating in the Columbia River is the result of "discretionary choices of the dam operators," the groups said, an assumption they called absurd, given the enormous natural mortality of migrating fish in both dammed and undammed rivers.
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