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Judge orders pesticide buffers to protect salmon.

Byline: Scott Maben The Register-Guard

A federal judge in Seattle will impose temporary streamside buffers on pesticide spraying to protect endangered salmon and steelhead in Oregon, Washington and California.

The buffers would remain in place until the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency adopts guidelines ensuring that pesticide use does not jeopardize endangered species.

Federal District Court Judge John Coughenour issued his order Wednesday in a case brought by fishing and conservation groups, including the Eugene-based Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides.

The ruling is a major victory, said Patti Goldman, an attorney representing the plaintiffs.

"Despite its legal obligation not to allow actions that harm endangered salmon, the EPA has continued to authorize the use of dangerous pesticides that are ending up in salmon streams," Goldman said Thursday. "The court agreed to block the use of pesticides along salmon streams until the government has ensured salmon will not be harmed."

The plaintiffs are seeking buffers of 20 yards for ground applications and 100 yards for aerial spraying. Coughenour will hold a hearing Aug. 14 to decide the specific size of buffers to be required for particular pesticide uses. He also will decide whether to impose additional restrictions on urban uses of 13 pesticides.

Coughenour a year ago found the EPA out of compliance with the Endangered Species Act with respect to pesticides that pose a threat to salmon. He ordered the agency to begin bringing its pesticide authorizations into compliance with the law by consulting with the National Marine Fisheries Service.
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Title Annotation:A Eugene-based coalition is one of the plaintiffs; a later hearing will decide the size of buffers to be required; Environment
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Jul 18, 2003
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