U.S. District Court Judge Michael H. Simon this morning agreed to a request by the Biden Administration and plaintiffs to extend for another year the stay in the litigation challenging the federal government’s environmental impact statement and biological opinion for Columbia/Snake river salmon and steelhead. The parties want more time to identify “comprehensive” solutions to basin salmon recovery.
Spring Chinook salmon are still arriving at the Pelton-Round Butte Complex of dams on Central Oregon’s Deschutes River where they are trapped and hauled upstream to Lake Billy Chinook. And so far partners Portland General Electric and the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs are seeing the best annual return of the fish since they began their efforts to reintroduce Chinook, sockeye and summer steelhead above the dams 13 years ago.
The first two sockeye salmon to arrive in the Sawtooth Basin near Stanley, Idaho, were trapped July 28 by Idaho Department of Fish and Game biologists and some 2,066 of the Snake River run of sockeye have passed Lower Granite Dam, 30 miles downstream of Lewiston, ID.
The majority of the run of Snake River sockeye salmon, a small segment of the largest Columbia River sockeye run since Bonneville Dam was built in 1938 (most return to the upper Columbia), have passed eight Columbia and Snake river dams and are now moving up the Salmon River.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is proposing to restore the lower Snake River federal navigation channel above Lower Granite Dam by dredging, including removing accumulated sediment near the confluence of the lower Snake and Clearwater Rivers near Clarkston, Washington, and Lewiston, Idaho.
The Winnemem Wintu Tribe, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service last week celebrated the return of endangered winter-run Chinook salmon eggs to the McCloud River upstream of Shasta Reservoir for the first time since the construction of the Shasta Dam in the 1940s.
Saying that “business as usual” is not restoring threatened and endangered salmon and steelhead in the Columbia/Snake river basins, the White House released two reports this week, adding more information to the debate on the costs and efficacy of breaching the four lower Snake River dams as a path towards recovery.
A female spring chinook salmon released as a smolt by the Coeur d’Alene Tribe in 2020 in upper Hangman Creek near Tensed, Idaho has returned to the Upper Columbia River where she will be transported around dams lacking fish passage and returned to her natal stream. She will be the first adult Chinook salmon to return to the Coeur d’Alene Tribe’s aboriginal territory in over 100 years.
Oregon State University researchers will embark this month on a 3½-year partnership with the Yurok Tribe to study what the connections between river quality, water use and the aquatic food web will look like after four Klamath River dams are dismantled.