Urgent and comprehensive large-scale actions in the Columbia River basin will be needed to meet mid-range salmon and steelhead abundance goals set by the Columbia Basin Partnership Task Force in 2020, according to a draft report by NOAA Fisheries released nearly a month ago by the White House. The agency is now taking comments until the end of the month on a report that could play a key role in the Biden Administration’s efforts to collaboratively move forward on Columbia/Snake river salmon recovery.
A Seattle federal district court judge ruled this week that NOAA Fisheries’ authorization of the Southeast Alaska troll fishery violated the Endangered Species Act by approving harvest levels that fail to protect Southern Resident killer whales and wild chinook listed under the ESA.
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.
A federal mediator told the Columbia Basin Collaborative Wednesday that his group is hoping for “an extension on the stay” of litigation over Columbia/Snake river basin salmon recovery so mediation among plaintiffs and defendants can continue to move forward.
The Washington Department of Ecology has started the rulemaking process to update the state’s aquatic life toxics criteria to reflect new information about toxic chemicals. Among the species of aquatic life that needs protecting are endangered chinook salmon, steelhead and Orca whales.
The Water Resources Development Act of 2022 approved by the House of Representatives Wednesday includes a lengthy section called “Columbia River Basin Restoration” and would require an inter-agency assessment of the four lower Snake River dams’ impact on fish and wildlife.
The Xerces Society and Center for Biological Diversity filed a notice of intent this week to sue the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s secretive Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service for failing to properly consider harms to endangered species caused by insecticide spraying across millions of acres of western grasslands.
The White House this week made clear it plans to be involved in Columbia River salmon recovery, saying it has engaged mediators to facilitate “public policy dialogue” with governments and stakeholders.
Through the end of 2021, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers implemented a number of measures required by a federal court to improve conditions for protected salmon, steelhead and bull trout at its Willamette River valley dams. In addition, the Corps continued implementing other measures already in process prior to a Sept. 1, 2021 court injunction. Even more measures that will improve passage or water quality for fish will be put into motion this year, according to the federal agency’s recently released report.