Contact:strong> Rob Masonis, VP of Western Conservation, (206) 491-9016, firstname.lastname@example.org
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Redden’s Decision Sets Table for Salmon Solution
All parties must come together to save the Columbia River’s salmon and steelhead
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Trout Unlimited applauds the decision by U.S. District Judge James Redden finding that the federal government again has failed to put forth a plan to rebuild imperiled Columbia and Snake River wild salmon and steelhead populations, which are just a fraction of their historic size.
Judge Redden agreed with Trout Unlimited and the other plaintiffs that challenged the federal plan, known as a Biological Opinion, that the federal government's reliance on speculative future actions to sufficiently improve the survival of salmon and steelhead amounted to little more than wishful thinking. Now, according to Rob Masonis, TU’s vice president for western conservation, all parties need to use the opportunity presented by Redden’s decision to sit down at the same table and craft a plan that’s right for the fish, and for the people of the Northwest who depend on them. “This does not have to be a choice between fish and economic prosperity. This is a defining moment for the region and there is an unique opportunity to advance both if the stakeholders come together with a commitment to finding a solution that addresses legitimate concerns on both sides.”
“The time is right to make some substantive headway on this issue,” Masonis said. “Judge Redden’s decision backs up our position that Columbia and Snake River salmon and steelhead are too valuable to leave to the whims of chance and speculation. The future of these remarkable fish, and the communities that depend on them, hinges on our ability to arrive at a common-sense solution and then put a plan into action.”
In concluding the federal plan was illegal, Judge Redden pointed out that not only were many of the actions speculative, but that the federal government has already fallen behind schedule in implementing the specific actions that it had identified in the plan. Judge Redden has given the federal government until January 1, 2014, to study lasting solutions, such as dam removal, rectify the flaws in the plan, and come forward with specific actions that satisfy the Endangered Species Act and put Columbia and Snake River salmon and steelhead on a path to recovery.
The Columbia and Snake Rivers are the mothers of all salmon producing watersheds in the lower 48 states, once producing 15 million salmon and steelhead annually. Decimated by dam construction and operation, habitat loss and other perturbations, all major runs of Columbia and Snake salmon are listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act. TU, its chapters and state councils, have worked to restore these runs to sustainable, fishable levels for more than 2 decades.
"Judge Redden's decision signals clearly that a new approach is needed to recover these fish populations so we can get off of this costly and ineffective merry-go-round of litigation and find a real solution that meets the needs of both people and fish," Masonis said. "Finding that solution will require leadership from the Northwest Congressional delegation."
Trout Unlimited is a private, non-profit organization with more than 140,000 members dedicated to conserving, protecting and restoring North America’s trout and salmon fisheries and their watersheds. Follow TU on Facebook and Twitter.