Earthjustice is appealing a federal district judge's decision to revoke Oregon coastal coho salmon's status as a threatened species. In September, the judge ruled that there is no difference between wild and hatchery-raised coho, and that the combined population no longer merits special protection (HCN, 10/8/01: Coho salmon lose federal protection). The Columbia-Snake River Irrigators Association has filed a petition to revoke federal protection for seven other kinds of salmon and steelhead, using a similar argument. A representative of the Pacific Legal Foundation says it may also fight the protected status of the Oregon/Northern California run of coastal coho, one of three fish at the heart of the Klamath Basin water crisis.


Meanwhile, farmers in the Klamath are signing up for their share of a $20 million relief package administered by the Department of Agriculture (HCN, 8/13/01: No refuge in the Klamath Basin). Other aid is in the works: Oregon senators Gordon Smith, R, and Ron Wyden, D, want $126 million to further help Klamath Basin farmers. They are proposing a $110 million addition to the Department of Agriculture's 2002 budget as cash for affected farmers, and another $16 million for studies and projects to increase flows in the Klamath River.


In Idaho, the U.S. government may have opened the door for states to challenge federal wildlife refuges' water rights. This February, the state's Supreme Court denied the federal government's attempt to secure water rights for the Deer Flat Wildlife Refuge, a series of 100 islands in the Snake River (HCN, 4/23/01: Islands hung out to dry). Environmental groups thought the government would challenge the decision, but the U.S. Justice Department let a Sept. 23 deadline expire without appealing the ruling.


Congress confirmed Bush nominee Mark Rey, Sept. 26, as undersecretary of Agriculture for Natural Resources and the Environment. (HCN, 7/30/01: Forestry nominee: Rey of light or death Rey?). Rey, a former timber lobbyist and Senate committee staffer who helped devise the 1995 salvage logging rider, will oversee the U.S. Forest Service and the Natural Resources Conservation Service.