Victory for the Eel River salmon and the Endangered Species Act!

Friends of the Eel River claims a win for Eel River salmon and steelhead and the Endangered Species Act

Eureka – Friends of the Eel River (FOER) has claimed an obscure but important win in our fight to
reverse the harms Pacific Gas & Electric’s two Potter Valley Project dams continue to cause
critically imperiled Eel River salmon and steelhead. Though it took the threat of a lawsuit, the
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has conceded it improperly approved an
operations plan for new doors on the fish ladder at Cape Horn dam. The Commission failed to take
the basic steps required by the Endangered Species Act to ensure listed species won’t be pushed
closer to extinction by federal actions.

On March 25, FERC issued a new Order withdrawing the January 28 Order FOER had challenged.
Having apparently received a revelation, FERC wrote that “(c)ommission staff has determined that
we are required to consult with the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) under section 7(a)(2)
of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) to ensure that implementation of the Plan is not likely to
‘jeopardize the continued existence of any endangered species or threatened species or result in the
destruction or adverse modification of such species…’”

“FERC’s about-face is a victory for us and a result of our diligent efforts to protect the Eel River’s
native fish,” said Alicia Hamann, FOER’s Executive Director. “FERC is notorious for refusing to
consult over the impacts on fish and wildlife of the dams it regulates. We’re very happy to see the
Commission acknowledge, even in this small instance, that the Endangered Species Act does
impose a legal duty on FERC itself to ask the expert agencies how its projects affect listed species.”

“This should help move all parties involved toward a realistic solution to the Eel River dams,” said
FOER Conservation Director Scott Greacen. “FERC’s concession means NMFS will take a long
overdue look at Cape Horn dam’s fish ladder, the longest and highest in California, through the
prism of the Endangered Species Act. If a truly adequate fish ladder is even possible at Cape Horn
dam, we have to know what would it cost compared to just removing the dam. The Two Basin
Partnership now seeking to relicense the Potter Valley Project has proposed removing Scott dam,
but so far refused to even consider removing Cape Horn dam. That will have to change.”

For more information:
Alicia Hamann, Executive Director (707) 382-8859
Scott Greacen, Conservation Director (707) 502-4555

Click here for additional information.

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