Snake Dams Court Ruling
I was sure someone else would post about this; but since no one has, it was time to post it. Anyway, I saw the Skagit Valley Herald (www,skagitvalleyherald.com) on Monday, October 4 that a three judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a ruling of the U.S. District Court in Spokane, WA on the Snake and Columbia River system dams. The Spokane court (and the circuit court agree on appeal) that the Army Corp of Engineers was within the law (including the clean water provisions of the EPA) in how they operate all the dams on the Columbia and Snake Rivers systems.
This means that the Columbia, Snake, Clearwater, etc. dams can operate as they have been without needing to maximize water releases for anadromous fish.
Those of you who have been following this, know that Judge Redden cited this Spokane U.S. district Court ruling in his ordering NOAA-Fisheries to rewrite the Columbia Basin Salmon Recovery Plan as one of the reasons NOAA-Fisheries had to rewrite the plan.
This ruling by the three judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court also means that the Snake River dams will not be coming out or breached in the foreseeable future. This is because the court found they did not violate clean water regulations of the EPA and therefore could not be said with any certainty to cause a decline in the populations of salmon or steelhead.
This latest ruling means that so far this year: the fish have lost this one, fish won in the Sacramento River steelhead cast, fish won in the Methow Valley irragation case, the Columbia Basin Salmon Recovery case has produced no change in how anadromous fish are managed so far, and the Oregon Coastal coho case has ordered NOAA-Fisheries to not include hatchery coho in an ESU if the hatchery coho are not going to be included in deciding if wild coho need ESA protective listing. The tally fish=2, dam operators=1, and fish managers forced to change how ESU is determined=1. It sure has been a busy year for the courts.