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Noble v. Dept. of Fish and Wildlife

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: 05-31-2012
Case #: A140936
Nakamoto J. for the Court; Schuman, P.J.; and Wollheim, J.
Full Text Opinion: http://www.publications.ojd.state.or.us/Publications/A140936.pdf

Administrative Law: An interpretation by an agency of its own rule will be upheld as long as it is plausible and consistent with the rule itself.

Noble appealed a decision of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) that approved fishways on two downstream dams. Noble argued that ODFW erred in determining the amount of water that was entering the system, and that fish only require passage when the water spills over the dams to the fishways. Noble also argued that ODFW improperly interpreted its own rules regarding adequate fish passageways. The Court of Appeals stated that it will affirm a plausible agency interpretation of its own rule that is consistent with the rule itself. The Court held that OFDW's interpretation of channel-spanning fishways takes into account the possible difference in water levels affecting fish migration at certain points of the year. Thus, this interpretation is plausible and consistent with ODFW's rules and the owners of the dams are required to provide fish passage. Affirmed.