Drastic federal action to try to save chinook salmon is latest move in ongoing battle.
Federal officials this month canceled the salmon fishing season from southern California to Cape Falcon in northern Oregon. The cause: an "unprecedented collapse" in adult chinook ("king" salmon) returning from the ocean to their spawning grounds in the Sacramento River and its tributaries.
Farther north, salmon in the Klamath River, which angles northeast through California and Oregon to high desert ranch country, are barely holding on as well. Multiparty talks about removing four small hydropower dams, which prevent migrating fish from reaching much of their traditional habitat, have dragged on for years with no resolution in sight.
And up in the Columbia River Basin, an area the size of central Europe, annual salmon runs that once reached an estimated 16 million fish now total fewer than 1 million. Thirteen evolutionary-specific salmon populations are listed under the federal Endangered Species Act there. US District Judge James Redden has rejected plan after plan for Columbia Basin salmon recovery put forth by federal agencies, and he threatens to order stricter measures for dam operations as he waits for yet another recovery plan due next month.
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