OREGON: Federal judge praises new salmon-protection plan
Posted: November 24th, 2009 - 9:59am
Source: Seattle Times
PORTLAND -- Declaring the federal government's newest salmon recovery plan "a good piece of work," U.S. District Court Judge James Redden on Monday appeared eager to resolve a 15-year legal battle about how to restore threatened and endangered fish runs in the Columbia River basin.
The Obama administration plan is backed by the state of Washington as well as six Indian tribes. It calls for wide-ranging efforts to improve fish habitat, reform hatcheries and try to ease the fish passage through hydroelectric dams and slow-moving water that backs up behind the dams.
Unlike a previous plan by the Bush administration, this restoration plan calls for a study on breaching four Snake River dams in Idaho if runs go into sharp decline.
Redden, at a hearing in U.S. District Court, said the restoration package needs more work to help it withstand further legal challenges.
Redden also questioned whether the restoration effort could get more water released from behind dams in Idaho or from Canada to help boost salmon survival rates.
But Redden appeared hopeful that he could eventually sign off on the federal plan, which will guide how the federal government spends billions of dollars on restoring salmon runs in the years ahead.
"I really appreciate the efforts that everyone has made," Redden said. "We have come a long way."
His remarks appeared to be a setback for environmentalists, the state of Oregon and other plaintiffs.