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Get the fish around dams, groups demand

In the wake of record-low salmon runs up the Yuba River, the South Yuba River Citizens League and Friends of the River filed new demands in an ongoing lawsuit to protect wild runs of salmon, steelhead and sturgeon.

SYRCL is calling for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to direct the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to find solutions for fish passage at Daguerre Point and Englebright dams and to re-design the South Brophy Diversion used by the Yuba County Water Agency. The solutions would aid fish populations nearing collapse, environmentalists said.

The suit first filed in 2006, is aimed at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and NOAA Fisheries. SYRCL’s most recent demands are in response to a November 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 new demands follow a warning that the Central Valley’s fall-run Chinook is in “collapse,” issued last month by the Pacific Fisheries Management Council, a coalition of government agencies.

The California Department of Fish and Game estimates 2,600 fall-run Chinook spawned in the Yuba River in 2007, compared to 18,000 in 2005.

The Corps of Engineers owns and operates Daguerre Point Dam and Englebright Dam. SYRCL and FOR say the dams form 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 the Yuba County Water Agency, which diverts water for irrigation purposes.


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