A federal judge has ordered the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) to issue a new biological opinion regarding fish habitat and fish passage on the South Yuba River by May 2014. South Yuba River Citizens’ League Executive Director, Caleb Dardick, says the original opinion issued in 2012 pleased SYRCL and Friends of the River because it ordered the Army Corp of Engineers to take action to improve spawning grounds in the lower Yuba River as well as study potential fish passage around Deguirre Point Dam and Englebright Dam which are owned and operated by the Army Corp of Engineers.
Click here to listen to SYRCL Executive Director, Caleb Dardick
The 2012 opinion did not please the Army Corp of Engineers or the Yuba County Water Agency. YCWA Manager Curt Aikens says the opinion was flawed and not based on good science.
Click here to listen to Curt Aikens
As a result, The Army Corp of Engineers and YCWA sued to have the Biological Opinion thrown out. SYRCL counter-sued to inforce the outcomes in the Biological Opinion. SYRCL also stated the Army Corp of Engineers has done little to implement the actions outlined in the 2012 Opinion. (The initial steps included re-introducing gravel and woody material to enhance spawning conditions and research possible fish passage strategies for migrating fish over the dams.)
Last week, Judge Morrison C Englund combined the two arguments and stated that the NMFS has until May of 2014 to re-do the study, and issue a new Biological Opinion.