Columbia Salmon Judge Redden
by Rocky Barker
The judge at the center of the Columbia-Snake salmon and dam fight will step down.
U.S. District Judge James A. Redden told attorneys involved in the case he will step down before the next salmon biological opinion is filed in 2014 as he ordered Aug. 2. That means a new judge will hold sway over the fate of the salmon, the price of electric power, the availability of water and shipping to Lewiston.
Redden took the bench in 1980 after a career as a trial attorney and a prominent Oregon Democratic legislator, Treasurer and Attorney General. The federal courthouse in Medford, Ore. is named for him.
But most people in the Pacific Northwest first heard his name when he ruled in 2003 that the BiOp for the Columbia and Snake dams did not meet the requirements of the federal Endangered Species Act for protecting endangered salmon and steelhead. It was the first of three rulings he made striking down increasingly costly and stricter plans to restore the wild salmon that are a manifestation of the wild character of the region.
His rulngs have not brought environmentalists, fishermen, fishing businesses and the Nez Perce tribe the breaching of the four dams on the lower Snake River that they wanted. But he forced federal agencies to adhere to requirements to spill water over dam spillways and away from turbines to aid their migration to the Pacific.
His rulings also led federal agencies to fund habitat improvement projects from the Columbia estuary east to the Pahsimeroi Valley in Idaho.
"Judge Redden has done more for Idaho's wild salmon and steelhead than the three past administrations combined," said Bill Sedivy.
I struck the 2000 BiOp, and the 2004 BiOp, and the 2008/2011 BiOp by James A. Redden, Letter to Counsel, 11/22/11
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