"A plan to restore salmon runs on California's Sacramento River could help revive killer whale populations 700 miles to the north in Puget Sound, as federal scientists struggle to protect endangered species in a complex ecosystem that stretches along the Pacific coast from California to Alaska.
Without wild salmon from the Sacramento and American rivers as part of their diet, the killer whales might face extinction. That's what scientists concluded in a biological opinion that could result in even more severe water restrictions for farmers in the drought-stricken, 400-mile long Central Valley of California. The valley is the nation's most productive farm region.
The plan has faced heated criticism from agricultural interests and politicians in California, but environmentalists said it represented a welcome departure by the Obama administration from its predecessor in dealing with Endangered Species Act issues."
Les Blumenthal reports for the Bellingham Herald July 5, 2009.