Groups Join Effort Against Salmon Rulingby Associated Press
Spokesman Review, October 4, 2001
Grants Pass, Ore. -- Not trusting the Bush administration to appeal a ruling that lifted threatened species protection for Oregon coastal coho salmon, environmental groups took steps Wednesday to make their own challenge.
Though they were not party to the original lawsuit, Earthjustice, a public interest law firm representing the groups, filed motions in U.S. District Court in Eugene asking for permission to intervene and seeking an injunction restoring the threatened species listing pending the appeal.
Environmental groups have been frustrated with Bush administration policies in the past, particularly its decision not to appeal a ruling that overturned a ban on logging within millions of acres of national forests left over from the Clinton administration.
The National Marine Fisheries Service has until Nov. 9 to decide whether to appeal. After the agency makes its recommendation, the decision will be made by the U.S. solicitor general, said NMFS spokesman Brian Gorman.
The Sept. 13 ruling by U.S. District Judge Michael Hogan directly affects only one population of salmon, known to biologists as an evolutionarily significant unit, or ESU. The Oregon coastal coho ESU includes rivers in the northern two-thirds of the Oregon Coast.
However, the reverberations could reach much further. Beside Oregon coastal coho, 25 of the 50 ESUs of salmon and steelhead in the West have been listed as threatened or endangered. And 20 of those are vulnerable to the same legal arguments that prevailed in Hogan's ruling, Gorman said.
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