Fishing and environmental organizations say they will take federal agencies back to court over deficiencies in their latest plan for managing the impact of the Columbia-Snake hydropower system on listed salmon and steelhead.
The 60-day notice filed late last week says that the Army Corps of Engineers, Bureau of Reclamation and Bonneville Power Administration are violating the Endangered Species Act, which protects 13 different spring, summer and fall Chinook, coho, sockeye, chum and steelhead stocks that call portions of the watershed home.
It would be the sixth “incarnation” of a long-running legal battle with the feds over their operations on the system and it follows their September “Record of Decision” which did not include removing four dams on the Lower Snake, considered by advocates to be “the single best thing we can do to save the salmon.”
The groups also say the current plan amounts to “a course of action the court has previously found inadequate to comply with the Endangered Species Act.”
The Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association and commercial fishing-oriented Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations are among the organizations threatening to sue.
“The federal plan is dangerous and does a grave disservice to the people who love to fish these rivers, and we could not let it go unchallenged,” said NSIA’s Liz Hamilton.
Glen Spain, PCFFA’s Northwest Region director, said that recovering the Columbia’s runs could produce 25,000 good-paying jobs and half a billion dollars in benefits to the West Coast.
“In short, restoring salmon means restoring jobs and dollars to our economy. The illegal Trump administration salmon plan, however, blatantly ignores those restoration benefits,” he said.
Other groups involved include Bellingham-based American Rivers, Idaho Rivers United, Institute for Fisheries Resources, NW Energy Coalition, Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club, National Wildlife Federation, Columbia Riverkeeper and Idaho Conservation League. They are represented by Earthjustice.
The 60-day notice starts ticking a clock for the feds to correct the claims or go to court, with the latter more likely to occur.