Unfortunately Mr. Williams based his article on the "draft wild salmon policy" for the Columbia River Basin and that is not what was adopted by NOAA-Fisheries. NOAA-Fisheries final Columbia River Basin Salmon Management Plan (re: policy) was given to Judge Redden (not Judge Hogan as Mr. Williams implied, Hogan was involved only in the coastal Oregon coho case, and it only applied to one river system, not the Columbia Basin case) in the first week of July.
The final Salmon Management Plan adopted by NOAA-Fisheries made no change in the status of 25 of the 27 stocks of salmon and steelhead found in the Columbia Basin, and they remain under threatened or endangered status as before the Judge Redden ordered rewrite of the plan. One stock was recommened for delisting, that is Oregon's Deschutes River steelhead. One stock was found to need furthur study to determine if it should remain listed, that was the Grand Rhonde steelhead. And the other 25 did not have their status changed.
The Columbia Basin Salmon Policy case was also not filed in Judge Redden's federal court by the Pacific Legal Foundation (as Mr. William implied), it was filed by the Northwest Power Producers as an attempt to keep operating the Columbia River Basin dams for mazimum power production instead of mazimized fish survival.
Also, the Judge Hogan ruling applied to only a single Oregon coast river system and only applied to the coho in that river system. NOAA-Fisheries and Oregon DFW included the hatchery coho in that river in the ESA and then excluded the hatchery fish from its final conclusion that the wild coho were threatened. Judge Hogan simply ruled that if NOAA-Fisheries and Oregon DFW include hatchery coho in the ESA, they cannot then exclude them from wild fish for purposes of finding the wild coho needed the protection of listing under the ESA.
Mr. Williams should know all three of the points I mentioned herein and informed the readership of Rod & Reel of them. He did not do this and that is a mark of poor journalism. I am aware that there is a lead time of several months for any magazine going to press and that there are deadlines Mr. Williams has to meet for submission of his article. However, he should have at the very least told the readership that the policy he credited NOAA-Fisheries with propogating was only found in a memo and wasn't even an official draft of the management plan, let alone the final plan that was submitted to Judge Redden. Mr. Williams should have also told his readers that the Columbia River Basin case was decided by Judge Redden. Instead he left Redden's name completely out of the article and only mentioned Judge Hogan, which was a completely different case that had no bearing on the Columbia Basin case. Likewise, he left out the important information about the Columbia Basin case being filed by the Northwest Power Producers; instead he left his readers assume, or infer, that the case filed by the Pacific Legal Foundation was the reason why NOAA-Fisheries revisited the Columbia Basin Salmon Management Plan, despite it not having been brought by the Pacific Legal Foundation. It was very disengenuous of Mr. Williams to leave these very important facts out of his article.
So what really happened? NOAA-Fisheries made no change of status for 25 of the 27 affected stocks of salmon and steelhead leaving them listed as either threatened or endangered as they were before Judge Redden ordered NOAA-Fisheries to review and rewrite the Columbia Basin Salmon Recovery Plan. One stock, the Deschutes steelhead were recommended for delisting. On stock, the Grand Rhonde steelhead were recommended to be considered for possible delisting. This is hardly the wholesale screwing of the fish Mr. Williams said was happening.
And in the Oregon coastal coho case of Judge Hogan, Oregon DFW and NOAA-Fisheries simply need to list that river's wild and hatchery fish in serarate catagories in order to meet the requirements of Judge Hogan's ruling to have the wild coho in that particular river system re-listed under the ESA.
As to the Sacramento River case brought by the CA Central Irrigation District and farmers that asked the federal court to include wild resident rainbow trout in its count of steelhead in the Sacramental River and its tributaries where steelhead are found in order to show that there was an abundance of "wild rainbow trout (and steelhead)". Thus, removing the wild steelhead from being listed as threatened. The Judge in this case ruled that resident rainbow trout and steelhead were sufficiently different in morphology and behavior to be considered different fish. Mr. Williams also left out the fact in the Sacramento River case that NOAA-Fisheries argued wild steelhead were different from resident rainbow trout. Mr. Williams left this paragraph's very improtant information out of his article as well. Yes, I am aware that the ruling in this Sacramento River case didn't come until July and that was probably after Mr. Williams' deadline for the current issue of Rod & Reel; however, he should have been honest enough to tell his readers that the case hadn't been ruled on and that NOAA-Fisheries argued resident rainbows and steelhead were different fish, which should never be considered together when deciding on the numbers of steelhead in a river system.
Mr. Williams was a very un-professional journalist in this article of his in Rod & Reel simply because he left out very improtant information about where the cases were, what was happening in them, when rulings were expected to be made, and that NOAA-Fisheries has to comply with the rulings of two federal judges. Also, he left out the very important fact that the US 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Judge Hogan was correct in his ruling in the Oregon coastal coho case, which means that NOAA-Fisheries and Oregon DFW will have to make sure not to include the number of hatchery fish in the river when deciding if a wild coho stock needs the protection or threatened or endangered listing status.
Mr. Williams has a huge readership across the country composed of people who are concerned about the environment and the health of fish stocks, many of whom tell others what they read (or "learned") in his articles; therefore, he has a duty to accurately inform the readership of Rod & Reel, and in this case he did not do so. Instead, he left out important information that leads readers to infer or assume NOAA-Fisheries is abandoning wild fish protection, which is not true. And he also wrote his article, supposedly based upon all the facts, in a manner designed to inflame and anger sportsmen all the while either outright blaming or inferring it was the current administration's plan to abandon protection of salmon and steelhead in the Pacific Northwest.