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Salmon and Hydro: An Account of Litigation over Federal Columbia River Power System Biological Opinions for Salmon and Steelhead, 1991-2009

IV. 1999-2004: Not Just Hydro, But All The ‘Hs’; Recovery In 48 years?; Mitigation Must Be Certain To Occur; Another BiOp Bites The Dust; A Remand; Corps Rules On Snake River Dam Removal

. . .The reaction to Redden's rejection of the 2000 BiOp brought the dam breaching issue to the fore, as tribes and fishing and conservation groups said the "aggressive, non-breach" strategy, as described by NOAA Fisheries, was not enough. They claimed vindication through the opinion.

"We need a plan to protect fish, not dams. Unless BPA provides actions certain to restore salmon . . . and fund them, Snake River dam breaching is back on the table," said Don Sampson, executive director of the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission at the time. CRITFC represents the Nez Perce, Umatilla, Yakama and Warm Springs tribes.

Sampson said the BiOp remand could result in an improved, evidence-based biological opinion containing stronger language directed toward the Corps, Bureau and BPA.

"The 2000 plan claimed the government could fix the salmon problem without addressing the root cause - the four lower Snake dams. We thought all along that the strategy behind the plan was a bit like trying to treat cancer with aspirin. Fortunately, the judge saw it that way, too," said Bill Sedivy, executive director, Idaho Rivers United.

Others said they felt the 2000 BiOp was only slightly off target, requiring modifications but not a complete overhaul, or the inclusion of dam breaching.

Public Power Council attorney Denise Peterson said at the time the judge was ordering NOAA Fisheries to "shore up its opinion" by following through with federal agency-to-agency consultations that the ESA requires.

She said the order offered an opportunity for others in the region to step forward and add the "certainty" that the judge said was lacking regarding implementation of recovery actions that are not within the authority of the federal agencies.

Oregon officials said the judicial opinion nudged NOAA Fisheries in the right direction. They said that in areas beyond the federal agencies' direct control, NOAA Fisheries needs to seek formal agreements - with states, tribes, private entities - regarding planned activities that are expected to help the salmon recovery effort. . . . .


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I. 1991-1995: Three ESA Listings, Four Biological Opinions, Five Court Challenges

II. 1995-1998: Reasonable And Prudent Alternatives, Spread The Risk, Long-Term Configuration, Adaptive Management; River Governance; Regional Parties Stake Their Positions; A BiOp Finally Passes Legal Muster

III. 1998-1999: More ESA Listings; A Supplemental Steelhead BiOp Guiding River Operations; Independent Science Advisory Board Weighs In On Smolt Transportation; Appeals Court Upholds 1995 BiOp; Supplemental BiOps On New Listings, Snake Water

IV. 1999-2004: Not Just Hydro, But All The ‘Hs’; Recovery In 48 years?; Mitigation Must Be Certain To Occur; Another BiOp Bites The Dust; A Remand; Corps Rules On Snake River Dam Removal

V. 2004-2008: A New BiOp Says No Jeopardy From Hydro Operations; A New ‘Environmental Baseline’; Redden Says No Again; Discretionary Actions vs. Non-Discretionary (Dams’ Existence); Court Runs The River; Upper Snake River Gets Own BiOp

VI. 2008-2009: A ‘Collaborative’ BiOp; New Fish Funding Agreements, New BiOp Support; Montana Finally Likes The Reservoir Plan; Earthjustice Says New Approach Inadequate; Oregon Left As Only State Opposed To BiOp; Should Independent Scientists Evaluate BiOp?; Parties To Litigation Grows; Clean Water Act Now An Issue; A New Round Of Briefings

VII. Conclusion: Rushing To Redden’s Finish Line



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