Water tankers, like this one transporting juvenile coho salmon from Cascade Fish Hatchery in Cascade Locks, Oregon, now count as “fish passages.” Associated Press Photo by Gillian Flaccus

ODFW Commission sued over salmon policy change

Enviros and Nez Perce Tribe join forces in claim that board didn’t provide appropriate public notice before making significant revisions

By NATHAN GILLES, Columbia Insight

 Last week we reported on a chorus of objections to a recent policy change by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife that changed the state’s definition of “fish passage.”

Now the issue is heating up.

On Tuesday, a group of seven environmental organizations and the Nez Perce Tribe filed a lawsuit related to the unpopular revisions to Oregon salmon policy.

The lawsuit, filed with the Oregon Court of Appeals, claims that sometime between Oct. 21 and Dec. 16, 2022, ODFW “fundamentally altered” sections of Oregon’s Fish Passage Law related to migrating fish.

However, the lawsuit isn’t directed at ODFW or its unpopular revisions.

Instead focuses on the public commission that approved those revisions.

The lawsuit alleges the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission violated Oregon law by not providing sufficient public notice before voting to approve ODFW’s revisions at a Commission meeting held on Dec. 16, 2022.

The revisions took effect on Jan. 1, 2023, and concern how “fish passages” are now defined under Oregon law.

Fish passages are engineering structures, including fish ladders, that allow migrating salmon and steelhead to voluntarily swim past dams and other artificial obstructions.

Or, at least that was the state’s previous legal definition.

Oregon’s new definition of “fish passage,” rewritten by ODFW and made law by the ODFW Commission, now includes involuntary “trap collection and transport” procedures, otherwise known as trap-and-haul.

Read to rest of the story here: https://columbiainsight.org/odfw-commission-sued-over-salmon-policy-change/.