Through our Salmon, Water & Wetlands Program, the Crag Law Center provides legal assistance to local citizens and conservation groups that seek to improve water quality and ensure sufficient water quantity for aquatic life. The demand for clean water is high, and the Crag Law Center handles citizen enforcement actions and cutting edge litigation to meet this demand. Crag has been and continues to work on water quality and water quantity issues across the Pacific Northwest.Through our work with river restoration by removing dams, managing pollution through stormwater drainage and logging roads runoff, and planning for the future by protecting the coast, Crag is working to ensure clean water for both humans and wildlife in the Pacific Northwest. Crag’s work on Salmon, Water and Wetlands includes the following cases.
Northwest Environmental Defense Center v. Brown
For several years, the Crag Law Center has been working with its client, the Northwest Environmental Defense Center, and its co-counsel the Washington Forest Law Center, to protect rivers in the Tillamook State Forest, managed by the Oregon Department of Forestry, from the pollution created from stormwater runnoff on logging roads. When it rains, runnoff carries extremely high levels of sediment directly into fish-bearing streams and spawning areas. In August of 2010 and again in 2011, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that these discharges must be covered by permits issued under the Clean Water Act. Since that time, the timber industry and the State of Oregon asked that the Supreme Court review the decision of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. In June 2012 the Supreme Court agreed to review the case and, with the Washington Forest Law Center, Crag attorney Chris Winter will argue the case on behalf of the Northwest Environmental Defense Center in Washington, D.C. in late November or Early December. Read more here.
Rogue River Watershed
On behalf of the Klamath Siskiyou Wildlands Center and the Rogue Riverkeeper group, Crag is taking on illegal mining in Southern Oregon. The mine, which violates the Clean Water Act impacts Coho salmon in Southern Oregon. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife list Coho salmon as a native migratory fish, though their numbers are low in Southern Oregon. Read more about the Klamath Siskiyou Wildlands Center and their efforts to halt illegal and damaging mining operations here.
Wild & Scenic White Salmon River
Crag Law Center is working with two local conservation groups, Friends of the Columbia Gorge and Friends of the White Salmon River, to challenge to legislative rezoning of private lands that would allow sprawling residential development along the Wild & Scenic White Salmon River. The development would decrease the lot sizes allowed on the riverbank from a minimum of 20 acre lots to a minimum of one to two acre lots. The tenfold increase in potential housing would destroy the river, federally designated as “Wild and Scenic” for its “outstandingly remarkable values,” including wild fish, world class white water boating, a rich heritage of Native American cultural sites and unique hydrogeology of cold water springs that feed the river. The planning area contains prime and unique farmlands that are of statewide significance and numerous Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (“WDFW”) designated “priority habitats.” Read more here.
Klamath National Forest
With the help of the Klamath Forest Alliance and the Klamath Siskiyou Wildlands Project, we are challenging a proposed gold mine in Northern California on public lands. Located near McNeal Creek a tributary of the Forks of the Salmon River tributary in Siskiyou County, the mine would harm Coho salmon, Chinook salmon and Rainbow trout. These species have all seen drastic declines in their populations in the region over the last century, and Chinook salmon are listed as endangered species. Crag is working to ensure these species retain the habitat needed to survive in the region for generations to come.