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Thursday, October 7, 2004

Decision to pull protection for bull trout brings lawsuit threat


SPOKANE -- Environmental groups say they will sue the federal government over its decision yesterday to remove critical habitat designation for the threatened bull trout in 90 percent of the Columbia and Klamath river basins.

The Alliance for the Wild Rockies and Friends of the Wild Swan contend the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service bowed to political pressures in making the decision, which covers areas of Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana.

"We can't allow this to stand," said Michael Garrity, executive director of the Alliance for the Wild Rockies. "Failing to protect bull trout habitat will jeopardize clean water supplies throughout the Northwest."

Mitch Snow, a spokesman for the agency in Washington, D.C., said the lawsuit was expected.

"There's not a single action we do take where we don't expect a lawsuit," Snow said.

"We've been sued so many times in so many ways that suit notices are the same thing as occupant mail."

Critical habitat refers to geographic areas that are essential for the conservation of a threatened or endangered species and that may require special management considerations.


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