Federal district Judge James A. Redden has announced that he will step down before the next salmon BiOp is filed in 2014 as required by his August 2 ruling. The Court will assign a new Article III judge to the case in the near future.
Judge Redden has been a serious force for wild salmon and steelhead over nearly 20 years of litigation with the Federal Agencies. By requiring the Federal Agencies involved to heed science and follow the law for endangered species, Judge Redden has single-handedly helped improve spill requirements for migrating salmon, improved habitat measures, and helped to sustain thousand of jobs dependent on salmon across the West coast. Judge Redden has done more to save wild salmon and steelhead than the last three federal Administrations combined.
“We hope that between now and 2014, the Federal Agencies will take a good look at what Judge Redden said in his August ruling of this year and make real, needed changes in the Biological Opinion. If they would do that, we might not even need a new judge for the case. And we could get down to the real business of building a more collaborative, science driven process involving the region’s stakeholders and develop real, innovative solutions to restore wild salmon,” said Save Our wild Salmon executive director Pat Ford.
Judge Redden ruled the most recent salmon plan for wild Columbia and Snake River salmon and steelhead illegal, calling it “arbitrary and capricious.” Federal Agencies have since stated a desire to “stay the course” despite the Judge’s ruling and despite calls for cooperation from conservation and fishing groups. These groups and public officials have called for a new approach to salmon restoration, via a collaborative solutions table involving the region’s stakeholders.