Idaho Rivers United and allied organizations filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday challenging the federal government’s plan for restoring Idaho’s endangered salmon and steelhead.
The lawsuit, filed against NOAA Fisheries, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Bureau of Reclamation in U.S. District Court in Portland, asks Judge Michael Simon to strike down a supplemental salmon plan (called a biological opinion) and force federal agencies to comply with laws regarding endangered species protection.
“Federal agencies in the Northwest seem to think they’re above the law and free to ignore what the law requires and what a federal judge ordered in 2011,” said IRU Salmon Program Coordinator Greg Stahl.
Two and a half years after federal Judge James Redden ordered NOAA to rewrite its salmon plan and consider lower Snake River dam removal as a legitimate option for salmon recovery, the agency released a biological opinion in January that the conservation groups claim resembles its predecessor and is even worse for salmon in some ways.
- It proposes to roll back spill—water sent over dams to help young salmon reach the Pacific more safely.
- It ignores the worsening impacts of climate change, which are already impacting salmon.
- It ignores a federal judge’s explicit order to consider lower Snake River dam removal.
- “The past two to three years have been an opportunity for NOAA Fisheries to write a legal, scientifically sound salmon plan, but what they came up with appears to fall way short,” Stahl said.