Environmental groups sue over survival of steelhead, chinook

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Three environmental groups are suing the federal government over the decline in wild salmon and steelhead in the Upper Willamette watershed.

The lawsuit filed Tuesday in Portland alleges the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the National Marine Fisheries Service have not completed specific tasks intended to help fish overcome dams that have cut off key spawning habitat.

The Statesman Journal reports that state biologists fear the winter steelhead could go extinct in the Molalla, Santiam, McKenzie and Middle Fork rivers.

WildEarth Guardians, Native Fish Society and Northwest Environmental Defense Center say dams on those tributaries block between 40 percent and 90 percent of spawning habitat.

Corps officials say they have kept to a 2008 agreement to help fish and point to $194 million spent on the Upper Willamette.