[env-trinity] Los Angeles Times 8-22-10
bwl3 at comcast.net
Mon Aug 23 12:18:42 PDT 2010
Wild steelhead to retain endangered species status, court rules
Los Angeles Times-8-22-10
By Carol J. Williams
Federal appeals panel rebuffs Central Valley irrigators' efforts to relax
U.S. protections on the Pacific salmon.
A federal appeals court panel has ruled that wild steelhead remain an
endangered species and rebuffed Central Valley irrigators' efforts to relax
federal government protections on the Pacific salmon.
Six irrigation districts had challenged the National Marine Fisheries
Service decision to list the oceangoing steelhead separately from more
plentiful freshwater rainbow trout on the grounds that the two fish
interbreed and the steelhead were therefore protected from extinction. Both
types of Pacific salmon are born in fresh water, but steelhead migrate to
the ocean whereas rainbow trout remain in rivers and lakes.
Wild steelhead once returned to the Sacramento and San Joaquin river systems
in the millions each year, but their population has dwindled by 95% because
of excessive water use, pollution, dam construction and urban sprawl,
Earthjustice attorney Steve Mashuda argued on behalf of a group of
conservationists and fishing enthusiasts.
A three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals agreed Friday
that the steelhead were in need of separate classification, despite
interbreeding of the two salmon species. The two species grow to different
sizes and have different predators and prey, the court noted, adding that
abundant steelhead can regenerate dwindling rainbow trout stocks "but the
reverse does not seem to be the case."
The ruling was hailed by the environmental and fishing groups who intervened
to defend the government agency against the irrigators' lawsuit. "Anyone
who's ever been lucky enough to see or catch a steelhead in the wild knows
they're a special fish," said Mark Rockwell of the Northern California
Council of the Federation of Fly Fishers.#
Byron Leydecker, JcT
Chair, Friends of Trinity River
PO Box 2327
Mill Valley, CA 94942-2327
415 383 4810 land/fax
415 519 4810 mobile
<mailto:bwl3 at comcast.net> bwl3 at comcast.net
<mailto:bleydecker at stanfordalumni.org> bleydecker at stanfordalumni.org
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