News Articles

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

Salmon or political games? Obama administration makes its choice

A federal judge repeatedly warned the federal government that only big changes to proposals for hydro dams would guarantee approval. Instead, the Obama administration has presented a plan that looks very much like the Bush strategy.

By Daniel Jack Chasan

 May 26, 2010 - Isn't it nice when new information proves you were right all along? The Obama administration has had that happy experience, and it shared the good news on May 20, when NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service unveiled its Supplemental Biological Opinion on operation of the federal Columbia River system dams. The government looked at some new science. It looked at the old BiOp. And ... what do you know? Touch the old document up a little, and it's good to go — just as the feds had thought.

"Feds tweak Columbia salmon plan," says the headline on the Idaho Statesman's web site. "Obama Administration backs Bush-era plan for Columbia Basin salmon," says the equivalent headline in the Oregonian. "While there are verbs among the 'actions,' " says Todd True, managing attorney of Earthjustice's Northwest office, "there is no action."

Earthjustice attorney Steve Mashuda dismisses the new document as "a book report." Not even the government's own press release pretends that much has changed.

Federal courts have been tossing Columbia River BiOps since the Seattle Mariners had Alex Rodriguez at shortstop and Randy Johnson on the mound. The federal agencies are already 0-for-4. U.S. District Judge James Redden, who has thrown out two biological opinions and has had the current version in his court for two years, has made it clear that his patience has pretty well run out. It's hard to predict his next step in a case that has already dragged on into almost unchartered waters.

Feds: No major changes for  
Columbia Basin salmon
Abby Haight - May 20th, 2010

PORTLAND, Ore. — The Obama administration has made no major changes to a plan to protect endangered wild salmon runs in the Columbia River Basin, dismaying salmon advocates who say they expected more.
The government on Thursday submitted revisions for a 2008 Bush-era biological plan to U.S. District Judge James Redden in Portland.
"These guys came out with Band-Aids when we're hemorrhaging from a major artery," said Nicole Cordan, policy and legal director for Save Our Wild Salmon. "These are species that are already imperiled, and they're saying, 'We're going to do less for them.'"


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.


More Articles...

  1. Apr 12, 2010 - Oregonian, Scott Learn - April 12, 2010: Science panel opposes Obama plan for Snake/Columbia salmon
  2. Feb 12, 2010 - SALMON NEWS: Court tells Obama Administration to Go Back and Get it Right.
  3. Feb 11, 2010 - New York Times: Judge Finds Salmon Plan Flawed
  4. Feb 11, 2010 - AP Story: Judge gives NOAA Fisheries last chance on salmon
  5. Dec 29, 2009 - Something's Fishy - by Keivn Taylor, The Pacific Northwest Inlander
  6. Dec 27, 2009 - E-mails show internal debate over Obama salmon plan
  7. Nov 24, 2009 - Oregon Flyfishing Blog: The battle for Columbia Salmon comes to a head in Portland courtroom
  8. Nov 16, 2009 - Idaho Statesman, November 16, 2009: Redden raises new concern in salmon-dam case
  9. Nov 02, 2009 - The River Why's David James Duncan on water, salmon and the policies that are killing them
  10. Sep 24, 2009 - Crosscut: Obama science goes schizophrenic on salmon restoration
  11. Sep 01, 2009 - Judge James Redden: Steelhead God
  12. Jun 22, 2009 - Has the salmon debate changed? - Idaho Statesman - June 21, 2009
  13. May 31, 2009 - Crapo: Be open to dam breaching - Idaho Statesman - May 30, 2009
  14. May 28, 2009 - Caddis Fly Blog: Obama Administration Comes to Portland, Talks Salmon
  15. Apr 23, 2009 - Crosscut - Obama: Good news for Columbia River salmon
  16. Apr 07, 2009 - AP: Lower Snake 3rd most endangered river
  17. Mar 06, 2009 - Salmon recovery plan before U.S. judge
  18. Mar 06, 2009 - Seattle Times: February 10, 2009 - Columbia salmon plan goes before judge for third try
  19. Mar 06, 2009 - AP: March 6th, 2009: Federal judge faults plan in NW salmon dispute
  20. May 05, 2013 - Lewiston Morning Tribune: Crowded conditions likely on Clearwater
  21. Dec 21, 2012 - AP: Wyden welcomes federal agency’s plan to seek consensus on saving salmon
  22. Dec 21, 2012 - NOAA takes first step toward building consensus
  23. Oct 10, 2012 - Idaho Statesman: Powerful Wyden supports new salmon talks
  24. May 29, 2012 - Idaho Statesman: The legacy of Lonesome Larry
  25. 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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