Saving salmon

Federal judge acknowledges the delta has imperiled the fish

Delta smelt aren’t the only fish species suffering the environmental consequences of California’s fractured water systems.

Last week, U.S. District Court Judge Oliver Wanger told federal and state agencies that diversions within the Sacramento-San-Joaquin Delta are endangering salmon.

In Wanger’s 18-page ruling, he instructed the state’s Department of Water Resources and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to protect salmon—and steelhead trout—whose populations have rapidly declined. While significant, the Fresno judge’s decision didn’t mollify conservationists from the Natural Resources Defense Council who wanted him to immediately stop diversions from the waterway.

Protections for the fish are scheduled to be discussed with the judge over the next nine months, according to The Associated Press. Meanwhile, a ban on salmon fishing along the California and Oregon coasts continues.