Ninth Circuit Affirms Legality of Lower Elwha Klallam Fish Hatchery Programs

On April 18, 2017, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit unanimously affirmed the District Court’s decision upholding the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe’s conservation-based hatchery programs against challenges under the National Environmental Policy Act and Endangered Species Act.

For more than a century, the Elwha River dams denied native Elwha River salmon and steelhead access to their habitat, depleting the runs to the brink of extinction.

After working for decades to secure legislation to remove the dams, the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe, in cooperation with its Federal and State partners and the independent scientific community, developed the hatchery programs to ensure the preservation and restoration of these native salmon and steelhead runs.

The Ninth Circuit’s decision will allow the Tribe to continue with those efforts. In conjunction with in-house counsel, the firm has represented the defendant Lower Elwha Klallam Tribal Officials throughout the district court and appellate proceedings.