On August 2, 2011, U.S. District Court Judge James Redden ruled that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries Service failed for the third time in ten years to produce a legal and scientifically adequate plan to protect imperiled Columbia-Snake River salmon from extinction.
Fishing and conservation groups, the state of Oregon, the Nez Perce Tribe, and the Spokane Tribe opposed the federal biological opinion, or BiOp, in court.
This is the third time Judge Redden has found a BiOp for the Columbia-Snake Basin inadequate and illegal. Today, salmon populations are critically low, lingering near just 1 percent of their historic levels.
In finding the current plan’s heavy reliance on unidentified and uncertain habitat actions illegal, the court wrote: “Coupled with the significant uncertainty surrounding the reliability of NOAA Fisheries' habitat methodologies, the evidence that habitat actions are falling behind schedule, and that benefits are not accruing as promised, NOAA Fisheries' approach to these issues is neither cautious nor rational.”
Endangered Snake River salmon and steelhead tackle a migration like no other salmon on earth. Some swim more than 900 miles and climb almost 7,000 feet to reach their spawning grounds, scaling eight dams along the way.