November 17, 2009

More lawsuits filed concerning the Sacramento Delta

By More lawsuits filed concerning the Sacramento Delta

Author:  Damien M. Schiff

Last Friday, the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) filed two Endangered Species Act (ESA) lawsuits concerning two Sacramento Delta species.  One lawsuit challenges the failure of the United States Fish and Wildife Service to respond to a CBD petition to uplist the currently "threatened" Delta smelt to endangered status under the ESA.  The second lawsuit challenges the Service’s denial of a petition to list the Sacramento Delta population of the longfin smelt.

The Delta smelt suit is in fact the second such action seeking an uplisting for the fish; last month, the Council for Endangered Species Act Reliability sued the Service seeking the same relief.

The longfin smelt suit is of interest because the proferred basis for listing the longfin smelt is that the Sacramento Delta population of the species constitutes a "distinct population segment," separately listable under the ESA.  Specifically, CBD contends that the Sacramento Delta longfin smelt is both distinct from other populations of longfin smelt found up the Pacific Northwest coast, and is biologically significant to the longfin smelt as a whole.

The California Fish and Game Commission has listed both species of smelt under the California Endangered Species Act.

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