Friends of the Shasta River Poised to Sue Feds to Protect Coho Salmon Habitat
In bold action to protect the riparian ecology of the Shasta River and the endangered species therein, the Friends of the Shasta River, with collaborators Environmental Protection Information Center and Western Environmental Law Foundation, issued a notice of intent to sue the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) for violating and continuing to violate the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in regard to Coho salmon in the Shasta River. The notice states, “NMFS has violated the ESA by authorizing, approving, causing, or otherwise carrying out agency actions that jeopardize the continued existence of coho salmon in the Shasta River, a species listed under the ESA as threatened with extinction.”
At issue is the NMFS’s Shasta River safe harbor program, involving 11 private ranchers, two water districts, and one California Department of Fish and Wildlife property in the Shasta Valley. The purported intent of the Safe Harbor program is to improve conditions for Coho salmon in the Shasta River, which has been severely impacted by excessive diversion of water for irrigation and drought. The notice argues that NMFS has issued permits “that authorize, approve, or acquiesce to the actions of fourteen permittees whose activities in, along, and affecting the Shasta River have unlawfully taken coho salmon and continue to do so, and individually and collectively cause or contribute to jeopardizing the species’ continued existence and adversely modifying its critical habitat.” The notice states that the agreement is based on legally and scientifically flawed biological opinions, and will provide the fourteen entities with legal immunity for harming protected species. Rather than ensuring recovery of the Coho salmon in the river, the agreement will ensure their extinction.
Please visit the Friends of the Shasta River website and donate to help them in their fight to protect the Shasta River, its watershed and all the life it supports.