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NW Fishletter #395, July 1, 2019
 Brief Mentions: Updates On Lawsuits, FERC Filings, Agency Actions
U.S. District Judge Michael McShane dismissed a lawsuit on June 5 at the request of the two conservation groups that filed it and the federal defendants. In Willamette Riverkeeper et al. v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers et al., plaintiffs claimed that releasing hatchery summer steelhead in the upper Willamette River basin was preventing recovery of wild winter steelhead. A May 31 filing outlined numerous developments since the case was filed, including a new biological opinion on May 17, and hatchery and genetic management plans approved by the National Marine Fisheries Service on May 21, and requested a voluntary dismissal of the case.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has agreed to consult with the Yurok Tribe over the proposed license transfer and removal of four Klamath River dams. Applications before FERC seek to transfer the license from PacifiCorp to the Klamath River Renewal Corporation, which would then remove the dams. The tribe asked on May 17 for a consultation with FERC regarding KRRC's license surrender application. FERC agreed on June 25 to hold a teleconference with the tribe on July 9, which will be open to the public, but closed for a portion if locations of archaeological sites will be discussed.
U.S. District Judge Rosanna Malouf Peterson on June 24 granted a request by Columbia Riverkeeper and Grant County PUD to stay further proceedings in a federal lawsuit. Riverkeeper alleges the PUD must obtain National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permits for Wanapum and Priest Rapids in order to operate the dams. The stay, which includes stipulations as agreed to by both parties, will be in effect for one year, or until the Washington Department of Ecology takes action on the PUD's applications for pollution discharge permits.
U.S. District Judge Marsha J. Pechman on June 25 granted a motion by the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations and the Coastal Trollers Association to intervene as defendants in Center for Biological Diversity et al. v. National Marine Fisheries Service et al. The conservation groups claim that coastal salmon fishing significantly affects prey availability for orcas and want the agency to reinitiate consultation under the Endangered Species Act. The fishing groups asked to intervene, saying the case will substantially affect organization members who make a living fishing for salmon, and that their interests are not adequately represented by other parties in the case. Conservation groups asked the judge to allow the groups to file only motions joined by the federal defendants and to prevent them from conducting independent discovery, but the judge declined their request.
The Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission approved an emergency rule June 19 requiring anglers to turn in any northern pike caught in Lake Mary Ronan within 24 hours. Edible portions may be returned to the fishermen on request. The new rule is in response to the recent discovery of reproducing northern pike in the lake, in northwestern Montana near Dayton. Wildlife officials say there is a high risk of northern pike expansion, which would threaten trout and kokanee--including the kokanee aquaculture used as the sole source of eggs for stocking the state.
The Idaho Department of Fish and Game and the University of Idaho are teaming up to study how well wild steelhead survive after being caught and released. In Idaho, wild steelhead--those with an unclipped adipose fin--must be released. Researchers are asking anglers to report any tagged steelhead they capture, either wild or hatchery. Both hatchery and wild fish are being tagged at Lower Granite Dam with orange plastic tubing near their dorsal fin, labeled with a unique number and information about how to report the catch. The information will be used to determine how many are caught during the season, how well they survive, and details about their migrations.
After concluding a seventh round of negotiations on the Columbia River Treaty, the U.S. Department of State has scheduled its next town hall meeting on treaty modernization for July 18 in Boise, Idaho. During the June 19 and 20 negotiations in Washington, D.C., representatives from three First Nations in Canada took part for the first time as observers. Negotiators discussed flood risk management, hydropower and adaptive management, according to a news release from the State Department. The next negotiations will be in Cranbrook, British Columbia on Sept. 10 and 11. -K.C. Mehaffey
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