Sides drawn over salmon runs on Yuba River
Days before two sides wrangling over the future of salmon runs on the Yuba River could go to court, one of them is saying something stinks about an extended deadline for a federal government agency to improve the fish's lot.
After meeting with representatives from the National Marine Fisheries Service last week, members of the South Yuba Citizens River League, based in Nevada County, said they will be watching closely.
A Fisheries Service decision to give the US Army Corps of Engineers three more years to improve fish passage on the Yuba, including the possible removal of Daguerre Point and Englebright dams, flew in the face of "reasonable and prudent alternative" measures in the service's original biological opinion on the matter, according to South Yuba Citizens.
"Your letter provides lengthy extensions of the RPA deadlines, and importantly, conditions compliance on the ability to obtain 'Congressional appropriations for Corps implementation,'" states a Dec. 10 letter from the league to the service's regional administrator, Rodney McInnis.
"We believe that conditioning implementation of the RPA measures on Congressional appropriations will effectively eliminate the deadlines entirely," states the letter, signed by South Yuba Executive Director Caleb Dardick.
Officials with South Yuba Citizens were not available for comment Thursday. In a posting on the group's website, members noted they had met with National Marine Fisheries officials in Sacramento to discuss the matter.
"NMFS staff restated their conviction that the Yuba River watershed remains the best opportunity in California to restore wild salmon," the posting stated in reference to the meeting.
Fisheries' service officials could not be reached for comment on the issue.
The original biological opinion, issued nearly a year ago in response to a 2006 suit by South Yuba Citizens, has since become the centerpiece of another potential legal battle.
In November, the Yuba County Water Agency announced its intent to sue National Marine Fisheries unless there were changes to the biological opinion. Days later, Dardick's group said it would do the same if the opinion's recommendations weren't followed.
Both sides gave a 60-day notice for action, a period set to expire early next month.
CONTACT Ben van der Meer at email@example.com or 749-4786. Find him on Facebook at /ADbvandermeer or on Twitter at @ADbvandermeer.