On February 27, 2017, the California Supreme Court reversed a Court of Appeal decision dismissing a petition for writ of mandate regarding the California Fish and Game Commission’s (Commission) rejection of a petition to delist the population of coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch) south of San Francisco under the California Endangered Species Act (CESA). Central Coast Forest Assoc. v. Fish and Game Comm’n, Case No. S208181, 2017 Cal. LEXIS 1540 (Cal. Feb. 27, 2017). The California Supreme Court held that the Court of Appeal erred by failing to consider the merits of the ...
As numerous news outlets reported, see L.A. Times and S.F. Chronicle, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued a decision reversing a lower court and affirming a biological opinion and reasonable and prudent alternative issued by the National Marine Fisheries Service with respect to the continuing operation of the Central Valley Project by the Bureau of Reclamation and the State Water Project by the California Department of Water Resources. The Projects provide water to more than 20 million Californians.
The panel's decision relies heavily on a prior ...
The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has released its final recovery plan for Central Valley spring-run Chinook salmon, Sacramento River winter-run Chinook salmon, and Central Valley steelhead. The website for the recovery plan is here. Along with the recovery plan, NMFS released a number of supporting documents on the website. Sacramento River winter-run Chinook salmon is listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), and Central Valley spring-run Chinook salmon and Central Valley steelhead are listed as threatened under the ESA.
At the same time that ...
The Trinity River Hatchery, which is operated by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and funded by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, has a production capacity of approximately 40 million salmonid eggs. Operations at the Hatchery are intended to mitigate for lost salmonid habitat due to the construction and operation of various water projects. However, a recent lawsuit filed by the Environmental Protection Information Center alleges that instead of mitigating for impacts to endangered and threatened salmon and steelhead, the Hatchery is "taking" the protected species ...
On April 28, 2010, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington granted a motion for summary judgment filed by Wild Fish Conservancy, holding that EPA and NMFS failed to use the best scientific and commercial data available in their informal consultation regarding EPA's approval of water-quality standards that exempted salmon farms from various state water quality standards. Wild Fish Conservancy v. U.S.E.P.A., No. C08-0156, 2010 WL 1734850 (W.D. Wash April 28, 2010).
Specifically, the court held that when EPA and NMFS engaged in informal consultation over EPA's approval of the disputed water quality standards, they should have considered the recent recovery plans for Puget Sound Chinook salmon (2007) and for the Southern Resident Killer Whales (2008) (PDF). Both recovery plans expressly stated that they were developed based on the best scientific data available regarding each species. The letter that NMFS issued concurring in EPA's not-likely-to-adversely-affect determination referenced three earlier studies prepared by NMFS and one prepared by the Washington State Department of Natural Resources, but not the more recent recovery plans. Indeed, the court found that the administrative record was devoid of any mention of the two recovery plans.
Ultimately, the court ordered EPA and NMFS to reconsider whether formal consultation is required taking into account the best available science.
Nossaman’s Endangered Species Law & Policy blog focuses on news, events, and policies affecting endangered species issues in California and throughout the United States. Topics include listing and critical habitat decisions, conservation and recovery planning, inter-agency consultation, and related developments in law, policy, and science. We also inform readers about regulatory and legislative developments, as well as key court decisions.
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