Ninth Circuit Decision on 2004 Biopby WWC Staff
Wheat Life, May 2007
The ninth Circuit Court of Appeals recently upheld the U.S. District Court ruling that ordered the National Marine Fisheries Service to rewrite its Biological Opinion (BiOp) for the federal projects on the Columbia Snake River System. The 2004 BiOp was ruled invalid by Judge James Redden in May of 2005.
A rewrite of the BiOp is already well underway with federal agencies, the four Northwest states and the seven tribes who are parties to the lawsuit engaging in a collaborative effort to develop a new BiOp. The federal agencies are due to make their proposed river operations public by May 21, 2007. The new BiOp is due July 31, but the deadline may be extended.
In April, BPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began federal system operations for juvenile salmon and steelhead migration. This year's regime will closely resemble 2006 operations and reflects agreements reached earlier this year with five Northwest Indian tribes.
Juvenile fish passage has improved in the last 15 years. Today, it is as good or better than it was when there were only four dams on the lower Columbia and Snake rivers, according to NOAA Fisheries. In 2006, NOAA found that survival for spring chinook was 58 percent through all eight dams-equivalent to survival in the undammed waters between the Sawtooth Hatchery on the Salmon River and Lower Granite Dam. Juvenile survival is nearly 95 to 98 percent through the recently installed removable spillway weirs and nearly 100 percent through the Bonneville Dam corner collector.
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