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Commentaries and editorials

Groups Ask to Join Coho Suit

by Jonathan Brinckman
The Oregonian, October 4, 2001

Seven conservation groups have appealed a federal judge's order that Oregon coastal coho salmon be removed from the endangered species list.

The groups, represented by Earthjustice, filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Eugene for permission to intervene in the case before U.S. District Judge Paul Hogan in Eugene. They also asked for a stay of his ruling until their appeal is resolved.

"This (ruling) pulls the rug from a lot of important Endangered Species Act measures," said Mary Scurlock of the Pacific Rivers Council, one of the groups. "We don't want people to get the message that these coho do not need protection."

Hogan ruled Sept. 10 that the 1998 decision by the National Marine Fisheries Service to list Oregon coastal coho as threatened was "arbitrary and capricious" because the agency protected only wild fish, even though it included hatchery fish in its definition of coastal coho.

Because they were not parties in the original lawsuit, the conservation groups will be allowed to appeal only if they are given intervenor status.

Gov. John Kitzhaber has asked the fisheries service to appeal the ruling. Agency officials said they have not decided what they will do.

Property rights groups, including Oregonians in Action, have applauded Hogan's ruling because they say the fisheries service should not impose onerous rules protecting wild salmon when rivers contain large numbers of hatchery-born salmon. Conservationists say the ruling threatens the Endangered Species Act.

"We are intervening to challenge this ruling because Judge Hogan got it wrong on the science, wrong on the law and wrong on the remedy," said Doug Hieken of the Oregon Natural Resources Council, the lead conservation group in the appeal.

The groups said they do not expect a ruling on their motion for at least three weeks.

Jonathan Brinckman
Groups Ask to Join Coho Suit
The Oregonian, October 4, 2001

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