Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
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Property Rights Threatened By Federal Government’s Newly Proposed Hatchery Salmon Policy
NOTICE: On May 28, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries) announced a new, and misguided, policy that flies in the face of Pacific Legal Foundation’s landmark court victory in Alsea Valley Alliance v. Evans (2001)—one of the most groundbreaking environmental decisions of the last decade that protects private property owners from federal mismanagement of Pacific salmon and steelhead under the Endangered Species Act.
Small business owners, homeowners, city residents, and country folks will all continue to experience unnecessary loss of employment, devaluation of property, general deterioration of their quality of life, and will continue to live under the threat of civil or criminal penalties for felling a tree, applying fertilizer or pesticides on their lawns, putting water to beneficial use, and a litany of other common, otherwise lawful activities associated with private property ownership and land use—all as a result of the newly proposed fish management policy.
In response to the government’s unfortunate action, PLF is gearing up for a major legal assault against the federal bureaucracy and is calling upon all its friends to support this effort.
In the Alsea case, U.S. District Judge Michael Hogan ruled that NOAA Fisheries acted illegally by counting only naturally spawned salmon and disregarding abundant hatchery spawned salmon when deciding whether or not to list the Oregon Coast coho as a protected species. (Respected fisheries biologists have repeatedly confirmed that hatchery salmon and “wild” salmon are the same fish.) Consequently, federal fish managers acting pursuant to the Endangered Species Act were ordered to count salmon whether born in the wild or in a hatchery. Last February, PLF successfully defeated environmental activists’ appeal of the decision at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and in June the court denied their petition for reconsideration.
Caving in to the heavy lobbying of radical environmentalists, NOAA Fisheries’ proposed policy purports to comply with the Alsea decision, but in fact it does not. Instead, the agency announced it would nevertheless base its listing determinations on whether the current ecosystem for each individual population is adequate to sustain and grow the numbers of the naturally spawning fish without the hatchery fish. Based on this alarming and illegal listing model, the agency also announced that it wants to retain 26 bogus Endangered Species Act listings for Pacific salmon and steelhead populations, including the Oregon Coast coho, and add a new one even though the salmon are not at risk of extinction! Consequently, PLF has filed a “Notice of Intent to Sue” on behalf of California and Pacific Northwest organizations and citizens who provide food and fiber products and homes for their communities and our nation — i.e., everyday people who are sick and tired of misguided environmental policies that displace common sense to everyone’s detriment.
Personal and Economic Hardships—The Stakes Are
Every one of these devastating losses will be continued and exacerbated by the federal government’s proposed hatchery policy and related salmon listings. The Bush Administration, through NOAA Fisheries, must stop capitulating to environmental activists who falsely assert that hatchery fish “threaten” the ecology of wild fish. Instead, federal fish managers must recognize that hatcheries do play a vital role in contributing to healthy salmon populations.
PLF needs your financial
support to stop the federal government from
extending these economic and personal hardships to
so many people in the west. PLF will do all it can
to ensure listings under the ESA are based on solid
science and the rule of law rather than political
pressure from the strident environmental lobby in
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