The federal agencies that built the rejected dam mitigation plan (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Bureau of Reclamation) released a joint statement suggesting Judge Redden’s ruling isn’t the end of the world. They say they’re grateful to have until 2014 to work on a better plan, thought they will be considering an appeal:
“We’re encouraged by the Court’s basic conclusion that the biological opinion should remain in place through the end of 2013, that it is providing “adequate protection for listed species” and that we should tighten up on the habitat program beginning in 2014. We are of course disappointed that the Court has not agreed with all of our arguments in this long-standing litigation, but the Court specifically recognizes that the unprecedented level of regional collaboration over the past few years has provided beneficial measures that help protection for listed species. We’ll continue our efforts to provide protection for salmon and steelhead in the Basin and work toward their recovery. The federal agencies will evaluate their options on whether to appeal at a later date.”
The lawyer who represented the opposing fishing and conservation groups in the case sent out a statement saying the judge’s ruling is a sign the feds should start taking out the Snake River Dams in Idaho (which his clients argue is the best way to recover the limping runs of Snake River sockeye salmon).
“Today is a victory for the nation,” said Trip Van Noppen, President of Earthjustice, the public interest law firm that represented fishing and conservation groups in the case. “But the work has only just begun. In the wake of the worst recession the nation has experienced since the Great Depression, there’s a simple path forward that would create thousands of jobs for a small investment. Taking out the four dams that strangle the lower Snake River would bring millions of dollars from restored salmon runs to communities from coastal California to Alaska and inland to Idaho. Let’s reject the path that continues wasting money on failed salmon technical fixes and embrace a solution that could set an example for the rest of the nation.”