Judge rebukes excuses from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, orders action at multiple dams following lawsuit by Guardians and allies

It feels good to win.

WildEarth Guardians, Northwest Environmental Defense Center, Native Fish Society, Advocates for the West, our experts, tribes, and agency biologists have said all along: the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is failing to save Upper Willamette River wild spring Chinook salmon and winter steelhead from extinction.

And now a federal judge unequivocally agrees and demands action.

In a strongly worded order issued on July 15, 2021, Judge Marco Hernández declared “the Corps has fought tooth and nail to resist implementing interim fish passage and water quality measures that it was supposed to begin implementing a decade ago” and stated “the Court has no patience for further delay or obfuscation in this matter.”


Now the Corps is on the hook—no pun intended—to implement twenty actions with specific deadlines at multiple dams throughout the Willamette River basin. Most of these actions imposed by the Court were requested by Guardians and our coalition.

No more excuses from the Corps!

Thanks to our successful lawsuit, operations at multiple dams will be modified to prioritize fish passage, a step toward ensuring native fish and ecosystems can thrive. There is renewed hope for western rivers, including Oregon’s Willamette, which are strangled by dams that impede natural flows, block fish migration, and negatively impact water quality. The perilous decline in wild fish will be stopped.

Your actions and financial support are vital to our work protecting living rivers and stopping extinction. You helped make this victory possible. Your continued support and partnership will enable Guardians to keep defending the wild fish and wild rivers of the American West.

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About the Author

Marlies Wierenga | Former Pacific Northwest Conservation Manager, WildEarth Guardians

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