A coalition of conservation groups Thursday
sent the Army Corps of Engineers a notice of its intent to sue over efforts to protect
Willamette River chinook and steelhead.
The groups are Wild Earth Guardians, Native
Fish Society, Advocates for the West, and Northwest Environmental Defense
Center. The notice of intent to sue can be found at https://nativefishsociety.org/news-media/corps-on-notice-for-failing-to-protect-threatened-willamette-fish.
Historically, around 325,000 chinook and
220,000 steelhead made their way up Willamette Falls to spawn in the upper
river basins, say the groups.
This year, they note, an estimated 5,880 wild spring
chinook and 822 steelhead returned -- 99
percent less than historical numbers.
(See CBB, July 14, 2017, “Ocean Conditions,
Sea Lions Faulted For Low Willamette Steelhead Return; Only 822 Wild Steelhead”
In 1999, the National Marine Fisheries Service
listed the Upper Willamette River fall chinook and winter steelhead as
threatened under the Endangered Species Act.
The groups’ notice of intent to sue the Corps
identified “numerous mandatory actions delayed again and again, such as the
requirement to improve dam passage for adult and juvenile fish.”
(See CBB, “Willamette BiOp For Fish: Four
Subbasins Focus Of Corps’ Salmon Reintroduction Programs Above Dams” http://www.cbbulletin.com/439107.aspx
The formal notice of intent to sue says: “This
letter provides 60 days’ notice required under section 11(g) of the ESA, 16
U.S.C. § 1540(g), of NEDC, WildEarth Guardians, and Native Fish Society’s
intent to sue the Corps for violations of the ESA unless the Corps agrees to
correct the violations described herein within a reasonable timeframe. NEDC,
WildEarth Guardians, and Native Fish Society are interested in discussing ways
to resolve these issues without litigation, and achieving protections for
salmon and steelhead in the most efficient and expeditious manner possible.”
-- CBB, Aug. 11, 2017, “ODFW Analysis: With
Continued Sea Lion Predation Willamette Winter Steelhead At Risk Of Extinction”
--CBB, June 23, 2017, “Oregon To Seek Permit
To Lethally Remove Salmonid-Eating Sea Lions At Willamette Falls,” http://www.cbbulletin.com/439150.aspx
-- CBB, June 9, 2017, “Groups Sue Corps Over
Upper Willamette Summer-Run Steelhead Hatchery Releases; Says Harm Wild Fish” http://www.cbbulletin.com/439056.aspx