Yuba River protection group sues over federal plan
On the fish-tail of a suit seeking to throw out a federal biological opinion over Yuba River fish populations and possible dam removal, the South Yuba River Citizens League filed its own federal complaint on Friday seeking adherence to the opinion.
The suit filed in US District Court in Sacramento against the National Marine Fisheries Service and the US Army Corps of Engineers also seeks to rescind extensions for compliance the fisheries service granted the corps last month.
SYRCL Executive Director Caleb Dardick said after the extensions, and the suit filed by the Yuba County Water Agency earlier this week, his group had no choice.
"We are concerned the 2012 biological opinion is severely under attack," he said. "Given both the corps' inaction and the YCWA litigation, we feel we have to do this."
Dardick said going to court wasn't his group's first choice, as they understood the technical and legal concerns that other groups, including the corps and the water agency, had with the opinion after it was released last February.
If revisions were necessary to get everyone on board with the biological opinion, his group was willing to be patient, he said.
"We hate to see the baby thrown out with the bath water," Dardick said.
Water Agency General Manager Curt Aikens said he had not seen the suit and had no comment.
Dardick said he hoped his group's suit might also compel the water agency to withdraw its suit, though he didn't believe it was likely.
A spokesman for the corps' Sacramento office confirmed receiving the complaint, though the agency has a general policy against commenting on litigation. The corps hopes to continue working with interested parties on river issues, added spokesman Chris Gray.
Marine Fisheries spokesman Jim Milbury said his agency is reviewing the suit, but had no comment.
As agency officials said in filing their suit, Dardick said his group's legal move doesn't mean there can't be a group effort toward a solution.
"We hope people can collaborate and continue to make progress," he said. "If litigation can get us to a negotiated settlement sooner, perhaps that's the best option."
CONTACT Ben van der Meer at firstname.lastname@example.org or 749-4786. Find him on Facebook at /ADbvandermeer or on Twitter at @ADbvandermeer.