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Columbia-Snake River Irrigators
by Tommy Allen, click here for bio
Program: Sportsman's Spotlight
Date: March 13, 2017
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Irrigators Assert State & Federal Fish Managers Engaged in Fish Passage Actions which Killed Columbia-Snake River Salmon in 2015 and Impaired Future Fish Returns
Portland, Oregon - One tragic scene from the Vietnam War came from a U.S. Army Officer who conveyed that to save the village, they would have to destroy it. The Columbia-Snake River Endangered Species Act (ESA) litigation, now belaboring for twice as many years as the Vietnam Era, induced a similarly destructive image in 2015, when state/federal fish managers engaged in lethal, in-river juvenile fish passage actions instead of relying on the Lower Snake River fish transportation program.
An injunction motion was heard this week in U.S. District Judge Michael Simon's Court (in Oregon) to perpetuate killing fish, and the ESA fish survival objective is being turned around backward by environmental groups and the State of Oregon.
The long years of Columbia-Snake River Biological Opinion (BiOp) legal wrangling have cost the region billions-of-dollars, and nourished some fanatics within the "salmon recover industry" who seek solely to breach the Lower Snake River dams rather than acknowledge the projects' substantial benefits; including operation of a well-developed juvenile fish transportation system that can protect fish in years when low water and high temperature conditions prevail--a year like 2015.
In the U.S. District Court in Oregon, the Columbia-Snake River Irrigators Association (CSRIA) legal counsel responded and methodically described the legal and operational management principles that should have guided fisheries operations in 2015, but were either overlooked or deliberately altered. Citing a forensic management review prepared by Seattle-based Columbia Research Corp., it was apparent that important following warning signs and protocols were ignored:
• The 2015 in-river conditions were the worst since 2001, and low water flows were forecast well before the start of the fish migration period. The early spring water temperatures were high.
• At a minimum, state and federal fish managers should have been following a BiOp (Court) mandated fish passage policy known as "spread the risk," where roughly equal numbers of juvenile fish are diverted by spillway passage or placed in water temperature controlled transport barges.
• But the fish passage managers, some unyielding supporters of project passage fish spill, delayed the start of the juvenile fish transportation program.
• Not everyone agreed with delaying fish transport, and twice, NOAA Fisheries' key scientists called for immediate fish transport operations. They were rebuffed by the on-site fish passage managers.
• In a year when juvenile fish transport should have been maximized (and called for under the BiOp), fish transport numbers were reduced to an all-time low, with only 13% transport. River water flows and temperatures were comparable to 2001, where the documented fish survival benefits from the transport program totally overshadowed in-river fish passage survival.
• Fish managers had to have known the danger. The 2015 fish passage operations will contribute significantly to impaired adult salmon/steelhead returns to the Columbia-Snake River system in 2017 and 2018.
The 2015 fish operations stand as a testament to CSRIA's call for invoking the Endangered Species Act Committee (God Squad) to settle, with reasoned judgment, the required fish protection measures for the Columbia-Snake River system. The 25-years of BiOp litigation have failed the fish.
For more information, contact Darryll Olsen of Columbia-Snake River Irrigators Association at 509-783-1623 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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