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salmon

This week, following a challenge from California water districts, the state and corporate agribusiness, a federal judge ordered the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to revise its plan to protect the delta smelt, a fish that makes its home in the brackish waters of the San Francisco Bay Delta. Earthjustice attorneys defended a biological opinion from USFWS that implemented protections for the smelt, and while the judge agreed with the majority of the biological opinion, he asked for revisions to specific sections.

Oregon's second largest run of salmon outside the Columbia Basin is returning home to a remodeled Rogue River this fall, and it looks as if they like the updated digs.

The storied Rogue has been the setting for the most significant series of dam removals yet seen in the western United States, with four dams down in the last three years, opening up 157 continuous miles of free-flowing mainstem river for the first time in more than a century. Tributaries included, the removals have provided salmon and steelhead better access to 333 miles of habitat upstream of the former dams.

Northern California's Shasta River was once the most productive salmon stream for its size in the Golden State. But just nine Shasta coho salmon made it home last year to spawn. Even worse, all of the returning fish were male. Talk about a tough dating pool.

There wasn't much water in the river to greet the few fish that showed up. Local ranchers had withdrawn so much water that stretches of the river went completely dry.

This time of year is when young salmon in California hitch a ride on the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers out to the ocean—if they escape the massive pumps in the Delta. These pumps redirect the water and send it south to huge agricultural operations in the San Joaquin Valley - in the process the sucking in and killing salmon.

A National Academy of Sciences review panel today announced findings that federal protections for salmon and other fish in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta are scientifically justified. The determination by the panel comes after months of controversy sparked by the plan’s modest restrictions on massive pumps in the Delta. These huge pumps export water to farms and cities south of the Delta, but also cause Delta rivers to run backwards, pulling large numbers of baby salmon and other fish to their deaths.

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