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Save Our Wild Salmon

redden.smPortland, OR – Today, Monday, May 9th, oral arguments were heard in a landmark case by U.S. District Court Judge James Redden. The case reviews the Obama administration’s 2010 federal salmon plan that sets policy on how to operate the federal dams on the Columbia and Snake Rivers.

The plan, also known as a Biological Opinion (BiOp), attempts to address the significant harm the federal dams cause to salmon and steelhead protected by the Endangered Species Act. The actions called for by the 2010 plan are almost indistinguishable from those proposed in the 2004 and 2008 plans.  The 2004 plan was rejected by the court and the 2008 plan was highly criticized, though no final decision was made on that plan. The 2010 plan also rolls back important in-river protections now in place and will cost almost $1 billion per year over the next 10 years.

The actions called for by the plan are almost indistinguishable from previous plans that were rejected by the courts. The plan currently under scrutiny also rolls back important protections now in place and will cost almost $1 billion per year over the next 10 years.

The salmon community has five basic concerns:

(1) The plan rolls back current salmon protections

(2) It sidesteps climate change impacts

(3) The plan ignores the best available salmon science

(4) It uses a faulty legal standard and analytical framework and

(5) The plan offers less protection for more money.

Also, the Oregonian published another in-depth story from Scott Learn on salmon habitat in the Columbia-Snake Basin:

"Habitat restoration soars on Columbia River, but fish benefits are murky."

While the trial is important for the future of endangered Columbia and Snake River salmon species, the case has additional national significance. Says Save our Wild Salmon Policy and Legal Director Nicole Cordan, “These amazing fish are critical to the Northwest’s cultural, ecological, and economic integrity. But in addition, this case acts as a test case for whether we as a nation are serious about protecting imperiled species; whether we as a region are serious about leaving our children and grandchildren with healthy rivers, healthy ecosystems, and healthy economies; because our children deserve no less.”

A summary of the plaintiff’s claims, timeline of the litigation, fact sheets on energy, salmon return statistics and spill, as well as a breakdown on the reality of dam removal for the four lower Snake River dams is available from Save Our Wild Salmon.

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