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WWP Seeks Protection for Bull Trout Habitat

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Nearly four years after critical habitat protection was granted to bull trout (Salvelinus confluentus), federal land management agencies have still not determined whether existing land management plans are compatible with protecting the fish.

That’s why Western Watersheds ProjectCottonwood Environmental Law Center, WildEarth Guardians, and Cascadia Wildlands sent a notice of intent to sue to both the Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service yesterday. The agency’s failure to properly evaluate the consequences of actions taken within bull trout critical habitat as gone on long enough. Now, they have 60-days to address it or face federal court.

Bull trout formerly ranged throughout the Columbia River and Snake River basins, extending east to headwater streams in Montana and Idaho, into Canada, and in the Klamath River basin of south-central Oregon. Unfortunately, human activities have driven the trout close to extinction. Activities adjacent to streams, such as logging, grazing, road construction, and off-road vehicle use, increase water temperature and add sediment to bull trout habitat. Of all fish species found in western rivers and streams, bull trout need the coldest and cleanest water, making them particularly vulnerable to water quality impacts and climate change.

Designated critical habitat for the bull trout includes 19,729 miles of stream and 488,251.7 acres of reservoirs and lakes in the States of Washington, Oregon,Nevada, Idaho, and Montana. This designation is supposed to mean something, and the land management agencies are supposed to ensure that on-going and proposed activities don’t harm the fish. Unfortunately, the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management have continued with business as usual.

We hope that this notice causes them to change course and start protecting bull trout.

A copy of the notice is available here, and WWP is grateful to Attorney John Meyer for representing all plaintiffs on this case. Thank you John!

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