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OR Locals Optimistic About Judge’s Salmon Advice

May 20, 2009

Portland, OR – This week a federal judge gave the Obama administration specific advice about how to handle the Columbia River salmon plan, and a number of Oregonians are optimistic the White House is listening.

Glen Spain, with the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations (PCFFA), says Federal District Judge James Redden gave the Obama administration what amounts to a checklist of scientific and legal problems in the Bush administration version of the salmon management plan that need to be corrected. Spain says Oregon has a major stake in getting the plan right, because even in its depleted state, the Columbia is the number one salmon-producing river in the world.

"Salmon have a huge impact on our local economy, and to watch these fish slowly slide to extinction is not an option — that's essentially what the judge is saying."

Earlier this month the Obama administration asked for more time to get up to speed on the issue. The judge gave the administration 60 days, and on Monday he issued his letter pointing out where changes need to be made.

The judge wrote that that Bush administration regulators spent the better part of the last decade "avoiding their obligations under the Endangered Species Act." Nicole Cordan, policy and legal director of Save Our Wild Salmon, expects the Obama administration to take a different approach.

"I hope this administration will heed the judge's clear advice and actually put together a plan that is credible - that does have scientific and legal credibility — so we can get our rivers back with lots of salmon in them."

Judge Redden indicated that some alternative to dams may be required. That idea is opposed by some utility and transportation representatives, who say it would be a major disruption to existing systems. Cordan is confident the Obama administration will give all stakeholders a fair shake and come up with a scientifically sound way of protecting endangered salmon.

Deb Courson, Public News Service - OR