James A. Redden, federal salmon case judge, steps down

This statement is issued in response to news that U.S. District Court Judge James A. Redden of Portland has stepped down.

Redden, who has declared three federal salmon plans illegal and has ordered important life-saving mitigations for wild salmon and steelhead, announced his decision Tuesday. Idaho Rivers United was a plaintiff in all three cases heard by the judge.

In response to the news, Idaho Rivers United Executive Director Bill Sedivy said:

“Judge Redden has done more for wild salmon than three presidents, five federal agencies and 10 Congresses combined. By demanding that federal salmon managers follow sound science and the law, he has been a tremendous force in slowing the extinction of wild salmon in Idaho and the Northwest.

“In striking down the salmon plans of 2000, 2004 and 2008-2011, Judge Redden has clearly articulated that the law is on the side of salmon and salmon advocates, and that federal salmon managers haven’t done enough. In moving forward, we’re confident that new judges assigned to the case will follow the law, as well.”

Sedivy said that one of Redden’s most important rulings over the past 20 years came in 2006, when — over the objections of federal defendants — he forced dam managers to spill water past dams on the Lower Snake and Columbia rivers in order to help baby salmon migrate to the Pacific Ocean.

“Our salmon haven’t had much help over the years from Northwest political leaders or the agencies charged with protecting them,” Sedivy said. “But thanks to Judge Redden, Mother Nature and a tireless group of salmon advocates, they’re still here.

“With Judge Redden stepping away, we hope that federal salmon managers will review his August ruling and make needed changes to the biological opinion driving salmon management and recovery measures. If they do that, we can build a collaborative, science-driven process for the region’s stakeholders, build solutions that work for people and fish, and resolve the Northwest salmon crisis once and for all.”