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Audubon Society of Portland v. United States Army Corps of Engineers

ELR Citation: 46 ELR 20146
Nos. 3:15-cv-665, (D. Or., 08/31/2016) (Simon, J.)

A district court upheld the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' and FWS' management plan, EIS, and associated permits authorizing the “take,” or killing, of double-crested cormorants in the Columbia River estuary, even though the agencies failed to consider reasonable alternatives other than killing in violation of NEPA. The plan provides some benefit to salmonids that are listed as endangered or threatened under the ESA, whereas double-crested cormorants are not listed. Although there is doubt about how much benefit reducing the cormorants population will provide for salmonid survival, the scientific evidence shows that it will provide some benefit to the productivity of salmonids currently listed as endangered or threatened. And in considering effects on endangered and threatened species, the “benefit of the doubt” must go to the endangered species.