In a recent video interview, federal judge James A. Redden said four dams on the lower Snake River should go. As he explained, it’s easier to take the dams out than it was to put them in and the change is needed for salmon to survive. This is the same judge who rejected three different weak federal plans which were supposed to protect endangered Snake and Columbia River salmon from the extensive harm caused by hydroelectric dams.
Earthjustice is representing a coalition of tribes, conservationists and commercial fishing groups in protecting California’s endangered coho salmon population against agricultural practices that are dewatering the Shasta and Scott rivers, two of the Klamath's key salmon spawning tributaries. According to preliminary data from video fish counts on the Scott and Shasta rivers done by the California Department of Fish and Game in 2009, only 81 coho returned to the Scott River, while in the Shasta a mere nine coho returned, reportedly all of them male. Biologists also reported that two out of three classes of coho in the Shasta River are functionally extinct. These devastatingly low returns continue an alarming population decline in watersheds that once provided some of the best habitat anywhere in the Klamath Basin.
If successful, Earthjustice's litigation will curb agricultural water use and habitat degradation in the Scott and Shasta watersheds, which is critical for restoring Klamath River coho salmon. Shasta River was once the most productive salmon stream, for its size, in the state of California.