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Some Fear New BiOp is ‘Same Ol’ Song’

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 By Chris ThomasContact
May 5, 2008

Portland, OR – A new federal salmon management plan - a "Biological Opinion" - comes out today. A federal judge rejected the last BiOp six months ago for not doing enough to save the endangered fish. Since then, three Native American tribes, once critical of the plan, have agreed not to challenge it in exchange for almost one billion dollars worth of aid over the next 10 years.

But Sierra Club regional director Dan Ritzman says that doesn't change the content of the controversial plan.

"I don't think there are going to be any surprises in the new BiOp. You know, they've put two years of work into this plan, and they've gotten clear warnings from the federal courts that they can't ignore the Endangered Species Act. But that seems to be the path that they're going down, once again."

The revised plan goes back to Judge James Redden for another ruling. The Bonneville Power Administration says it's already spent nine billion dollars trying to save salmon in the Columbia Basin, and that its payments to the tribes will go toward improving fish habitat.

Jim Martin is the former Chief of Fisheries for the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Department. He's suggesting that, rather than continue to revise the controversial plan, the judge order a scientific review of it.

"Now if the federal action agencies believe they have a plan that will pass muster, and that the environmentalists and the fishing interests are all a bunch of arm-waving extremists, then let them do the scientifically right thing and subject this plan to an independent peer review with a report directly to the judge."

When the BiOp is released, it can be accessed online at www.nwr.noaa.gov.

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