Friday June 17, 2022

Courthouse News Service

A group of environmental organizations sued the National Marine Fisheries Service on Wednesday for giving the green light to activities that threaten endangered California salmon in the Shasta River.

The Environmental Protection Information Center, Friends of the Shasta River and the Western Environmental Law Center brought the federal complaint in San Francisco, saying the National Marine Fisheries Service issued 14 unlawful permits allowing activity at Shasta River that threatens Southern Oregon and Northern Coast California coho salmon. The salmon are listed under the Endangered Species Act as threatened with extinction in the river, which flows for 58 miles to its confluence with the Klamath River with a watershed covering 793 square miles.

The lawsuit also takes aim at the service’s safe harbor program, which gives legal immunity to a dam owner and water diverters for harming protected species on private lands.

The plaintiffs claim that the permits, which authorize continued water impoundments, diversions and “routine agricultural activities,” leave river flows altered or diminished, harming coho salmon. They argue the issued permits are unlawful and that agency’s biological opinion to evaluate how it decision affects coho salmon was unlawful under the ESA. 

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