Latest: Columbia River salmon recovery plan invalidated

It was the fifth to be struck down by the courts.

  • Salmon make their way up a river to spawn.

    U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Overfishing and habitat destruction from mining, logging and dams have devastated Columbia Basin salmon. From 1992 to 2011, federal agencies wrote four recovery plans to restore habitat and protect fish, but environmental groups sued over each, saying dam removal and spillover were necessary to save salmon. The courts repeatedly told the agencies to re-do the plans. In January 2014, yet another version was released (“The great salmon compromise,” HCN, 12/8/14).

In May, the Oregon U.S. District Court rejected that 2014 plan, saying tactics used to manage dams and protect salmon “have already cost billions of dollars, yet they are failing.” This plan is the fifth to be invalidated because it violates the Endangered Species Act and the National Environmental Policy Act. The judge called for a full analysis of how dams affect salmon, plus a new plan, by March 2018. Earthjustice attorney Todd True said management “must change dramatically — and very quickly — if wild salmon are to inhabit these rivers in the future.”


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