Activists File Suit to Bolster Fish Protectionby Rebecca Cook
The Oregonian, September 13, 2000
Several groups want the U.S. government to toughen rules intended to aid salmon
SEATTLE -- Several environmental and fishing groups sued the federal government Tuesday, trying to force officials to strengthen rules intended to protect Northwest and California wild salmon runs from extinction.
"Salmon are in serious trouble, yet the federal government is not doing what the law requires to ensure salmon survive and recover," said Patti Goldman, lead attorney on the case from Earthjustice Legal Defense Fund. "Instead, they propose to continue to allow the harm and claim to have recovery at the same time. That won't work, and it's illegal."
Government officials said they are prepared to defend the rules in court. A timber industry group accused the environmentalists of inviting chaos by trying to get federal courts to take over salmon protection.
The National Marine Fisheries Service issued salmon-protection rules in June, after 14 salmon and steelhead species were listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act.
The rules tell people, companies and governments what not to do if they want to avoid being sued under the Endangered Species Act for harming salmon and steelhead. They're called the 4(d) rules, named for the authorizing section of the Endangered Species Act, and apply to nearly 160,000 square miles in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and California.
The rules do something new by giving local and state governments more flexibility. If local and state governments approve their own plans to regulate activities such as logging, road-building and urban development in a way that protects salmon, the federal government will let them be "exempt" from the 4(d) regulations.
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