Wednesday February 8, 2023

Lost Coast Outpost

Today, a federal district court reconfirmed that the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation must comply with the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) in operating the Klamath Irrigation Project.  Link to the ruling.

“Once again, the courts unequivocally rule that the ESA is the law of the river,” stated Yurok Vice Chairman Frankie Myers. “Protecting the fisheries we depend on for culture and subsistence comes first when making water allocation decisions.”

Under the ESA, water must be released from the project to provide Klamath River flows to sustain salmon that are on the endangered species list.  But irrigators who obtain water from the project have long argued in court that distributing water for irrigation is outside the scope of the Endangered Species Act.  Federal courts have consistently rejected the irrigators’ argument, the 9th Circuit Court holding as long ago as 1999 (Klamath Water Users Protective Ass’n vs. Patterson, 204 F.3d 1206 (9th Cir. 1999)) that the ESA applies to the project and overrides irrigators’ rights to water. 

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