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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

VII. Conclusion: Rushing To Redden’s Finish Line

. . .The injunction motion suggested a resumption of the 20-foot drafts of western Montana's Libby and Hungry Horse reservoirs by the end of August. The 2008 BiOp recommended 10-foot drafts by the end of September. The coalition cited Dworshak and Grand Coulee as other sources of flow augmentation water and suggested the purchase of water from the Idaho Power Company, which owns three dams on the Snake in Hells Canyon along the Idaho-Oregon border.

The injunction motion said that the John Day reservoir should be operated at minimum operating pool -- 5 feet lower that the 2008 BiOp recommended -- from April 10 to Sept. 30 each year, with necessary operational flexibility (typically a one foot operational range).

Decreasing the cross-sectional area of the reservoir channel by partial drawdown would have the effect of speeding water particle travel time, which in turn would speed fish passage through the reservoir and improve their survival chances, Oregon and NWF said.

The states of Idaho, Montana and Washington were immediately critical of the injunction request.

"The participants in the collaborative remand found, after much discussion and analysis, that measures pertaining to spill and flow in this biological opinion are based upon the best available scientific information," according to a statement issued by the states.

"More spill, without regard to the location, the timing, the length, and the rate, is not going to benefit all ESUs, may not benefit any, and may harm some," the statement said. "Contrary to this straightforward proposition, [plaintiffs] continue to advocate a 'one size fits all' theory, which rests on the proposition that more spill is always better," Idaho, Montana and Washington said.  . . .


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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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