Klamath Falls News —
The Klamath Tribes today filed a lawsuit against the Bureau of Reclamation in federal district court in Medford, Oregon, over Reclamation’s ongoing violations of the Endangered Species Act in its operation of the Klamath Project. C’waam (Lost River sucker) and Koptu (shortnose sucker), two critically endangered fish of vital spiritual and cultural importance to the Tribes, are being pushed to the very brink of extinction by Reclamation’s violation of one of our country’s bedrock environmental laws.
“We will do everything necessary to protect the C’waam and Koptu, which are of the utmost importance to our people,” said Tribal Council Vice Chair Gail Hatcher. “In this historically bad water year the consequences of decades of mismanagement are coming home to roost; Reclamation’s failure to provide the bare minimum conditions necessary for their survival is unconscionable.”
Reclamation has been operating the Klamath Project out of compliance with the terms and conditions of the Biological Opinion (BiOp) issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 2020, causing harm to the C’waam and Koptu even beyond the level authorized under that document. The Tribes are also seeking an emergency order directing Reclamation to immediately reduce its releases of water from Upper Klamath Lake (UKL) in order to preserve the C’waam and Koptu while the lawsuit moves through the courts. This reduction in releases is necessary to bring Reclamation back into compliance with the BiOp.