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Ninth Circuit Upholds Dam Spill Order to Protect Northwest Salmon


  • Ryan Johnson
In a ruling that environmental activists called a step  toward protecting salmon from extinction, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals today affirmed a previous order to spill more water over the Columbia and Snake River dams. In spring 2017, U.S. District Court Judge Michael Simon ruled that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers must spill the water, and today, a three-judge Ninth Circuit Appeals Court rejected an appeal of the original ruling.

"This is good for Idaho fish and Idaho anglers," said Idaho Wildlife Federation Executive Director Brian Brooks. "Tens of thousands of Idahoans eagerly await the opportunity to fish for returning anadromous species, ready to pump a lot of money into our communities. Guaranteed spill means more fish, better fishing and more benefits for local economies."

The new spill operations on the Columbia and Snake river dams could begin as early as Tuesday, April 3.

In May of 2017, fisheries managers from around the region said they were entering "uncharted territory" in the latest spring run of Chinook salmon on record, due in large part to a diminishing number of salmon making their way to Idaho.

“Maximizing spill is the one thing that we can do immediately to help these struggling fish survive the age of dams,” said Idaho Rivers United executive director Kevin Lewis. “Just as science has shown that spill works, science has also shown that the only path to real, long-term, sustainable recovery is removal of four dams on the lower Snake River.”

You can read the full Ninth Circuit Court opinion below: See related PDF 2018.Spill.Injunction.Ninth_Circuit.Ruling.pdf