Wednesday July 20, 2022


A federal appeals court on Monday upheld a 15-year plan for several drought-stricken wildlife refuges along the Oregon and California border against challenges by agribusiness and conservation groups alike.

The three decisions by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals mark a stalemate in a century-old water war in the Klamath Basin, where a federal irrigation project to support farming began in 1906 and the nation’s first wildlife refuge was established in 1908.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s 2017 Comprehensive Conservation Plan drew fire from agribusiness for regulating farming practices in the Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge Complex, while conservationists argued the restrictions did not go far enough.

The agribusiness groups, led by Tulelake Irrigation District, argued that FWS had no legal authority to favor wildlife over agriculture on land the agency had leased to farmers. The 9th Circuit said the groups were misreading laws that govern wildlife refuges generally and the Klamath complex specifically.

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