SYRCL demands protection of Yuba River fish
February 20, 2008
In the wake of record-low salmon runs in the Yuba River, the South Yuba River Citizens League and Friends of the River filed new demands in efforts to protect wild runs of salmon, steelhead and sturgeon in an on-going legal battle with federal agencies.
The suit first filed in 2006, is aimed at the US Army Corps of Engineers and NOAA Fisheries. SYRCL’s most recent demands are in response to a Nov. 2007 Biological Opinion from NOAA calling for more fishery studies.
“Continuing to study the fish doesn’t do one iota. We need action,” said Christopher Sproul, of the public interest law firm Environmental Advocates, which filed the complaint.
“Yuba’s wild salmon are in crisis” and could face extinction, said Jason Rainey, executive director of SYRCL.
The recent action follows last month’s warning from the Pacific Fishery Management Council that the Central Valley’s Fall-run Chinook are facing a “collapse.”
The California Department of Fish and Game estimates through their escapement surveys that 2,600 Fall-run Chinook spawned in the Yuba in 2007, compared to 18,000 in 2005.
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The Army Corps of Engineers owns and operates Daguerre Point Dam and Englebright Dam. SYRCL and FOR say the dams act as barriers to upstream fish migration and that federal agencies have been “dragging their feet” to protect Yuba River fish.
NOAA is the federal agency responsible for recovering threatened anadromous species such as the Spring-run Chinook salmon, Steelhead and Green Sturgeon. The suit also names Yuba County Water Agency which diverts water for irrigation purposes.
SYRCL is calling for NOAA to direct the Corps to come up with solutions for fish passage at Daguerre Point and Englebright dams and for a re-design of the South Brophy Diversion used by the Yuba County Water Agency.