Defenders of Wildlife and Natural Resources Defense Council have sued three federal agencies "demanding that [they] fix their dam operations that threaten the existence of wild pallid sturgeon." (press release) (complaint)
"Although the impacts of these dams have been well documented for more than 20 years, the agencies have avoided their obligations under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) to change their operations. Instead of complying with their ESA obligations, the Corps and Reclamation are now proposing to increase the size of the Intake Diversion Dam [on the Yellowstone River] and add an artificial side channel for fish passage that scientists say has no reasonable expectation of success, creating an even bigger and more permanent barrier to pallid sturgeon passage," DoW and NRDC said in their news release, issued today (Feb. 2).
Background, from the press release:
Background: The Intake Diversion Dam on the Yellowstone River – a major tributary of the upper Missouri River – blocks pallid sturgeon from reaching critical spawning grounds, while issues with the timing and temperature of water releases from the Fort Peck Dam, destroy the pallid’s spawning and rearing habitat in the mainstem Missouri. Any eggs that hatch are sent downstream to suffocate, starve, or become food for larger fish in Lake Sakakawea in North Dakota. Together, these dams prevent the pallid sturgeon from successfully reproducing in the upper Missouri River basin. As a result, the wild population in the basin – the most important population of pallid sturgeon remaining for recovery – is dying out. Approximately 125 wild fish remain, all nearing the end of their lives.
NRDC Switchboard (Marcus Griswold)