An environmental group intends to sue state and county agencies after fire retardant used on Santa Barbara wildfires killed some 50 protected steelhead trout this year.
The Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics filed a notice Wednesday with the U.S. Department of Commerce, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection and Santa Barbara County Fire Department. A 60-day notice to sue is required by the Endangered Species Act.
According to the letter, the Forest Department and the Santa Barbara County Fire Department violated the Endangered Species Act and should regulate the use of the toxic fire retardant within the steelhead’s protected habitat. The fish were killed during the Jesusita Fire in May.
Santa Barbara County Fire Capt. David Sadecki said the county’s helicopters drop only water and referred questions about retardant to the Forest Service. A spokesman for the agency could not immediately be reached for comment.
The Department of Commerce referred questions to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which had no comment.
There are now less than 500 adult steelhead where the fish once thrived in the Santa Ynez, Ventura and Santa Clara rivers and Malibu Creek.