Feds sued over fish obstacles on Yuba
The federal government is illegally dawdling on changes to a pair of Yuba River dams that could help preserve threatened salmon and sturgeon species, two environmental groups allege in a federal lawsuit.
The South Yuba River Citizens League, a Nevada City group, and the Sacramento-based Friends of the River are suing the National Marine Fisheries Service and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The action, filed Friday in U.S. District Court, charges the federal agencies failed to properly account for the loss of salmon caused by the Daguerra Point and Englebright dams east of Marysville.
In 2002, the federal fisheries service released a report on the Yuba River dams ahead of a Corps of Engineers project to clear some of the river's obstacles to fish. But the lawsuit claims the federal report did not contain useful figures on the numbers of threatened fish species, or how any dam repair work would affect them.
The suit seeks a fresh review of local salmon populations, a new study of the dams' effects on fish migration and the release of NMFS records the groups have sought since July through the Freedom of Information Act.
The 24-foot-high Daguerra Point Dam, 11 miles upstream from Marysville, is a century old; the 65-year-old Englebright is another 12 miles upriver. Both dams originally were built to catch floating debris from mines upriver.
At issue are the barriers the dams pose to migrating fish. The plaintiffs blame them for blocking the way to salmon's spawning grounds, helping cause a steep falloff in the numbers of Chinook salmon, steelhead and green sturgeon in the Yuba.
Englebright has no fish ladders to assist the migration upriver, while Daguerra Point's ladders are obsolete and in bad condition, according to the suit.