News Articles

Important articles published by national and regional news outlets related to wild salmon restoration in the Columbia and Snake Rivers.


Agencies submit new Columbia River salmon plan
by Kim Murphy, May 20th, 2010

The Obama administration has come back with its final program for restoring endangered salmon on the Columbia River -- a plan substantially like the last one.

The revised biological opinion submitted by four federal agencies to the federal court in Portland, Ore., has been updated to reflect new scientific studies and to incorporate a flexible "adaptive management" strategy that will allow swift implementation of stronger measures if needed.

Officials hope that will be sufficient to head off yet another rejection by the court. "While much attention has focused on the courtroom, the region should be proud of what the federal government, states, tribes and communities together have accomplished for fish," the agencies said in a statement releasing the opinion.

"Last year alone, 9,609 miles of wetland habitat were protected and 244 miles of streams were reopened to fish. We've made much progress, and completion of this legal process now prepares us to make much more."
Conservationists had hoped the plan would be much bolder, with less emphasis on hatchery fish and stronger attention to the possibility of breaching dams on the Snake River in eastern Washington that cut off salmon from miles of pristine potential habitat.

"This was the Obama team's chance to change directions and protect salmon in the Columbia-Snake River basin and follow the law," said Todd True of Earthjustice, who is lead attorney for a group of fishing and conservation groups who have challenged the restoration plan in court.
NW Salmon Battle Doesn't Bode
Well for Other Endangered Species
Public News Service - May 21st, 2010

PORTLAND, Ore. - It is Endangered Species Day and advocates for native Northwest salmon say the timing is ironic. On Thursday, the federal government submitted what it calls a "legally and scientifically sound" Biological Opinion (BiOp); a plan to protect endangered wild fish. Groups that have already challenged the previous BiOps in court say this one is not much better. In their view, the feds have ignored some studies in favor of others, and failed to take climate change into account.

Jim Martin, former chief of fisheries for the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Department, says he's disappointed in the new plan.

Blogs getting the word out:
Obama to release revised Bush salmon plan

blog.salmonWhile Columbia & Snake River wild salmon & steelhead remain on the brink, their story is swimming in abundance throughout the blogosphere.

As we mentioned last week, the Obama administration is on the cusp of a decision that will determine the strength of the Endangered Species Act and the fate of wild salmon and steelhead in the Columbia and Snake Rivers.

News of this upcoming decision is spreading. Take a look at any and all of the blogs below. The key word here is share. Please forward any of these links to your friends and family in an email or post one to any of your favorite social networks. Thank you!
You can also find updates on Facebook and Twitter.


Feds vs. fish: crying over spilled water

by Daniel Jack Chasan, April 26th, 2010

As in George W. Bush's time, the Obama administration still seems to be telling the courts to just trust their work on protecting Columbia River salmon runs. What's a judge to do but listen, instead, to the science?

The federal agencies that operate dams and sell power on the Columbia River will keep spilling water over the Lower Snake River dams next month to float young salmon downstream. They didn't want to. But with the weight of scientific opinion clearly against them, they decided to make the best of a bad thing.

The Bonneville Power Administration, the Bureau of Reclamation, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the Northwest office of NOAA had asked the federal district court to let them follow a 2010 Spring Fish Operation Plan under which they'd stop spilling water over the lower Snake River dams by May 1.

On April 19, they told the court never mind.

Given all the scientific opinion to the contrary — everyone but NOAA thought that stopping spill was a bad idea — their chance of convincing the court seemed slim.

Those agencies are, of course, the defendants in the long-running suit over the Biological Opinion issued by the Bush administration in 2008, tweaked but basically defended by the Obama Administration last year, and scheduled to make another appearance in U.S. District Judge James Redden's court next month.

Federal courts have been hammering them over biological opinions for nearly 20 years. Redden, who tossed the Bush administration's first attempt at a BiOp, has expressed strong skepticism about this one, too.

When last seen, the BiOp would have made this year's proposed spring fish operation plan the new norm: federal agencies could spill or not spill at their own discretion. The fish operation plan was basically an effort to jump the gun.

Nineteen years after Columbia and Snake River salmon populations were first listed as threatened or endangered, we're still arguing about how to get them down the river.


Science panel opposes Obama plan for Snake/Columbia salmon
 by Scott Learn, April 12, 2010
An independent science panel has weighed in against the Obama Administration's plans to curtail spills over Snake River dams come May 1, setting up a showdown between the administration and salmon advocates in federal Judge James Redden's courtroom.

The Independent Scientific Advisory Panel issued its report late Friday on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's plans to increase barging of young fish headed for the ocean around three Snake River dams while ending May spills at those dams designed to aid fish migration.

Higher spill reduces power generation from the hydroelectric dams and could increase electricity rates. Redden, the U.S. District Court judge overseeing a lawsuit on management of salmon in the Columbia and Snake system, has favored spring spill since 2007.
River flows are projected to be very low this year, and NOAA says more barging of young salmon and steelhead from the Snake River dams to below Bonneville Dam in May -- allowing them to avoid a huge stretch of the Snake and Columbia rivers -- will increase ultimate fish survival in those conditions.

River temperatures are higher in low-flow years, the agency and groups such as Northwest River Partners say, a drawback for the cold-water fish. Consumption of young salmon by predators, both other fish and birds, also rises in low water conditions.

But the advisory panel, which studied the issue at NOAA's request, sided with a mixed regimen of spill and transport similar to what Redden has favored in the past.

That squares with the position taken by salmon advocacy groups such as Save Our Wild Salmon, who say interest groups and politicians in Washington, Idaho and Montana are pressuring the administration to cut spills and keep electricity rates lower.

"Spill should be viewed as a default condition," the panel's report said, adding that spill "more closely mimics natural situations and ecological processes." A strategy similar to that ordered by Redden in the past, the report said, is "most in accord with available scientific information."

-- Scott Learn, The Oregonian


Court tells Obama Administration to go back and get it right.
Here is some good news to take home with you over the long weekend.

Earlier this week, Judge James Redden, who is hearing the long-running legal challenge to the Columbia Basin salmon plan,, sent a letter rejecting the federal government's proposal to shoehorn some additions into the 2008 Bush Salmon Plan and call it "good." The judge offered several suggestions to the federal agencies, and has given them until February 19 to decide what they will do.

Last year, as you may recall, Team Obama added a dubious "salmon insurance policy" to the (politically-driven and unscientific) plan crafted by the Bush Administration, adopted the whole package, and submitted it to the judge for approval. This week's letter and order is his response. Judge Redden identified both procedural and substantive shortcomings of the Obama Plan that will need to be addressed in order for the plan to pass legal muster.

In his letter, for example, the judge emphasized that, in order to comply with the Endangered Species Act, this plan must be based on "the best available science. They [federal agencies] cannot rely exclusively on materials that support one position, while ignoring new or opposing scientific information." For more on the science behind the Obama Salmon Plan. For more on the science behind Obama's Salmon Plan, go HERE.

Salmon and fishing advocates, as well as the Nez Perce Tribe of Idaho, the Spokane Tribe of Washington, and the State of Oregon, are greatly encouraged by the judge's action. We are hopeful that the Obama Administration will decide to make a sharp break with past failures on this issue and sit down with the people of the Northwest to develop a plan that works for both people and salmon, for our economy and our environment.

Have a great weekend and happy President's Day!. Thank you for your support, and look for some additional news on this and other developments early next week - and how you can help!

Joseph Bogaard
Save Our Wild Salmon Coalition
206-286-4455, x103

More Articles...

  1. Feb 11, 2010 - New York Times: Judge Finds Salmon Plan Flawed
  2. Feb 11, 2010 - AP Story: Judge gives NOAA Fisheries last chance on salmon
  3. Dec 29, 2009 - Something's Fishy - by Keivn Taylor, The Pacific Northwest Inlander
  4. Dec 27, 2009 - E-mails show internal debate over Obama salmon plan
  5. Nov 24, 2009 - Oregon Flyfishing Blog: The battle for Columbia Salmon comes to a head in Portland courtroom
  6. Nov 16, 2009 - Idaho Statesman, November 16, 2009: Redden raises new concern in salmon-dam case
  7. Nov 02, 2009 - The River Why's David James Duncan on water, salmon and the policies that are killing them
  8. Sep 24, 2009 - Crosscut: Obama science goes schizophrenic on salmon restoration
  9. Sep 01, 2009 - Judge James Redden: Steelhead God
  10. Jun 22, 2009 - Has the salmon debate changed? - Idaho Statesman - June 21, 2009
  11. May 31, 2009 - Crapo: Be open to dam breaching - Idaho Statesman - May 30, 2009
  12. May 28, 2009 - Caddis Fly Blog: Obama Administration Comes to Portland, Talks Salmon
  13. Apr 23, 2009 - Crosscut - Obama: Good news for Columbia River salmon
  14. Apr 07, 2009 - AP: Lower Snake 3rd most endangered river
  15. Mar 06, 2009 - Salmon recovery plan before U.S. judge
  16. Mar 06, 2009 - Seattle Times: February 10, 2009 - Columbia salmon plan goes before judge for third try
  17. Mar 06, 2009 - AP: March 6th, 2009: Federal judge faults plan in NW salmon dispute
  18. May 05, 2013 - Lewiston Morning Tribune: Crowded conditions likely on Clearwater
  19. Dec 21, 2012 - AP: Wyden welcomes federal agency’s plan to seek consensus on saving salmon
  20. Dec 21, 2012 - NOAA takes first step toward building consensus
  21. Oct 10, 2012 - Idaho Statesman: Powerful Wyden supports new salmon talks
  22. May 29, 2012 - Idaho Statesman: The legacy of Lonesome Larry
  23. Nov 22, 2011 - Salmon Groups: Let’s Try Something Totally Different
Save Our wild Salmon is a diverse, nationwide coalition working together to restore wild salmon and steelhead to the rivers, streams and marine waters of the Pacific Northwest for the benefit of our region's ecology, economy and culture.



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