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NW Fishletter #367, March 6, 2017

[9] Bull Trout Suit Against Corps, BuRec and BPA Dismissed

A federal judge on Feb. 22 dismissed a case against the operators of 23 Columbia Basin dams that plaintiffs alleged violated Endangered Species Act requirements for bull trout habitat.

Judge Marco Hernandez, with the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon, ruled the lawsuit was moot because the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had in the meantime submitted biological assessments for the challenged dams and initiated consultations.

Alliance for the Rockies filed the complaint in July 2016, asserting the defendants -- U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Bureau of Reclamation and BPA -- had not reinitiated consultation after receiving new information about bull trout habitat from the FWS' 2010 critical habitat designation.

The court also mooted the case against BPA, saying the proper jurisdiction was the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The Alliance, a conservation group based in Missoula, Mont., has been a dogged critic of federal actions to recover bull trout, having litigated the issue numerous times.

Most recently, in 2005, the group and another organization challenged the bull trout critical habitat designation and won. USFWS revised the habitat designation in 2010 identifying segments of rivers across Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Montana.

Bull trout, once ubiquitous in the Columbia and Snake river basins, was declared a threatened ESA species in 1998. -Laura Berg

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Publisher/Editor-in-Chief: Mark Ohrenschall, Editor: Laura Berg
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