Salmon populations have plummeted by 99% in the Yuba; we fight to bring them back.
FOR Files Lawsuit to Save Endangered Salmon on the Yuba and Beyond
Spring-run Chinook salmon were once plentiful in the Central Valley, with over 600,000 returning to spawn each year. The construction of Englebright and Daguerre Point dams on the Yuba River by the Army Corps of Engineers reduced the habitat available to the species by 80%, resulting in substantial population declines. In 2011, fewer than 5,000 spring Chinook returned to the Central Valley, a reduction of over 99% from historic levels. Salmon and steelhead were listed as threatened species in the late 1990s and green sturgeon were listed in 2006. Providing sufficient fish passage at Englebright and Daguerre dams is crucial to halt this continuing slide toward extinction.
Accordingly, Friends of the River (FOR) filed a citizen suit in federal court on April 20th, 2016 against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for failing to comply with Endangered Species Act (ESA) requirements to protect threatened spring-run Chinook salmon, steelhead and green sturgeon. The lawsuit seeks actions that would reduce the harm caused by the Corps dams such as providing fish passage past the dams, removing predatory fish at Daguerre Point Dam, adding large woody material and spawning gravel below Englebright Dam, and restoring habitat by removing rock debris left over from the construction of Englebright. Read FOR’s Press Release
Reconnecting these salmon, steelhead, and green sturgeon to their historic spawning habitat would be an historic achievement as salmon have never been restored to any Sierra headwaters since dams were built on every river during the last century.
Lawsuit Claims Army Corps Policy Applying to Hundreds of Dams Across the Country Violates Federal Law
Beyond the Yuba, the Corps asserted in a 2013 Policy Memo that Corps has no legal duty to provide fish passage or improve habitat for any Corps dams and reservoirs in the United States (of which there are nearly 400). The policy thus has the potential to hasten the extinction of numerous endangered and threatened species nationwide.
If not reversed in court, this would prevent resource agencies or environmental groups from seeking to require the Corps to take any actions to curb the harms being caused by these facilities.