A coalition is suing federal agencies for their lack of protection of endangered salmon and trout.
The Los Angeles Times reports that the National Marine Fisheries Service, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation are being sued for their lackluster attempt at protecting endangered steelhead trout and salmon.
The Environmental Defense Center is claiming violations of the Endangered Species Act, through the Bureau of Reclamation’s failure to properly pump and release water which led to Hilton Creek’s low water levels.
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Hilton Creek is a critical habitat for endangered Southern California steelhead. More than 375 steelhead have deceased due to the lack of adequate flows, eliminating the ability to migrate, spawn and rear their young.
“We want the judge to tell the government to prepare a plan that complies with the law … and protects the salmon, which is what the law requires,” said Todd True, lead attorney for Earthjustice, a public interest environmental law firm, in the LA Times piece.
Ideally, the action of eliminating several dams on the Lower Snake River, as well as ensuring pump functionality and backup plans, will need to take place, says the suing groups.
The government, along with an organization representing utilities, agricultural groups and other river users are arguing that the federal plan does indeed protect the species.
With populations of fish still far from total recovery, the collaborative efforts of government agencies and conservation groups is critical. Whether completely justified or not, a lawsuit should at least bring attention to the struggling species, and hopefully lead to a solution.