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
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