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Upper Snake River Chapter of Trout Unlimited v. Hodel

Citation: 19 ELR 20832
No. No. 88-4100, 706 F. Supp. 737/(D. Idaho, 01/24/1989)

The court holds that the Bureau of Reclamation is not required to prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) before reducing the water flow to the south fork of the Snake River below Palisades Dam in Idaho. The court holds that plaintiffs are not entitled to a preliminary injunction, since the balance of hardships weights heavily in defendants' favor. Hundreds of millions of dollars in damage could occur if defendants were ordered to increase the outflow and precipitation is average or below. Although many cutthroat trout may die as a result of the court's refusal to issue the injunction, the fishery could rehabilitate itself within three to five years. The court holds that the Bureau is not required to prepare an EIS, since the reduction of flow is a continuing operation not subject to the National Environmental Policy Act. The Bureau has routinely reduced the flow during past drought conditions. The court holds that the minimum flow for the river specified in the Bureau's standard operating procedures are not binding, but are simply a guide for the Bureau's operation of the dam.

Counsel for Plaintiffs
John Radin
Radin & Webb
520 D St., Idaho Falls ID 83402
(208) 523-9808

Counsel for Defendants
D. Marc Haws, Ass't U.S. Attorney
328 U.S. Courthouse, Box 037, 550 W. Fort St., Boise ID 83724
(208) 334-1211

John J. Hockberger Jr.
Office of the Solicitor, U.S. Department of Interior
Federal Bldg., U.S. Courthouse, 550 W. Fort St., Box 020, Boise ID 83724
(208) 334-1911