Trout Unlimited Lauds Federal Court Rulingin Favor of Columbia and Snake River Salmon


Press Statement May 27, 2005

Jeff Curtis, Trout Unlimited: 503.827.5700 x. 11; c. 503.419.7105
Alan Moore, Trout Unlimited: 503.827.5700 x. 10; c. 503.319.2210

Trout Unlimited Lauds Federal Court Ruling
in Favor of Columbia and Snake River Salmon

Federal Judge rejects Bush administration’s plan to manage dams and salmon

(PORTLAND, Ore.) – National salmon and trout conservation group Trout Unlimited (TU) today applauded the opinion issued Thursday by U.S. District Court Judge James A. Redden on the Columbia and Snake river federal hydropower system’s impact on imperiled salmon and steelhead trout. The opinion soundly rejects the Bush administration’s attempts to use legal technicalities to evade its responsibilities to restore the basin’s great runs of salmon and steelhead. Trout Unlimited is one of several plaintiffs in the case.

“Judge Redden’s decision is good news for Columbia and Snake river salmon,” said Jeff Curtis, western conservation director for Trout Unlimited. “The federal agencies had crafted a plan for salmon based on smoke and mirrors and designed to maintain the status quo. This decision will force the region to develop a plan that actually addresses the hydropower system’s effect on salmon head-on and work together on a biologically and legally sound approach to restoring these magnificent fish.”

Judge Redden’s ruling specifically rejects the administration’s claim that it was not required to address all of the impacts of the dams, even if the result of that approach would lead to extinction. He also reaffirmed the federal government’s responsibility to go beyond preventing extinction and to take the steps necessary to recover the salmon and steelhead of the Columbia and the Snake rivers.

Thursday’s ruling marks the third time just over a decade that a federal plan to manage the Columbia-Snake dams has been rejected by a federal court.

In 1995, U.S. District Court Judge Malcolm Marsh chided the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) for its Pacific Northwest salmon recovery efforts, saying they were “too heavily geared towards a status quowhen the situation literally cries out for a major overhaul.”

“Over a decade ago, Judge Marsh called for a major overhaul, and to date we haven’t seen it,” said Curtis. “We hope with today’s ruling that the time has come to bring meaning to his words.”