Sockeye salmon.

Sockeye salmon.

Aaron Kunz

A federal court ruled Wednesday that the Environmental Protection Agency must come up with a plan to protect salmon from warm water temperatures.

The summer of 2015 was a bad one for salmon. Water temperatures spiked in rivers across the Northwest. Fish can die when water temperatures hit the 70s. In the summer of 2015, around 250,000 adult sockeye died in the Columbia and Snake rivers.

The record-high temperatures and salmon deaths led conservationists and fishing groups to sue the federal government. Now, a judge has ruled the Environmental Protection Agency must develop a plan to protect threatened and endangered salmon and steelhead from dangerously warm rivers.

The ruling says dams are a big reason rivers get too warm. Waters are predicted to get even warmer with climate change.

“Because of today’s victory, EPA will finally write a comprehensive plan to deal with dams’ impacts on water temperatures and salmon survival,” said Brett VandenHeuvel, executive director of Columbia Riverkeeper, in a statement.

The Environmental Protection Agency has 30 days to respond to the court’s ruling.