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Federal Judge Sides with Fish in Klamath Water Dispute

As drought season approaches, farmers and conservationists have been pitted against one another over Klamath River waters.

Posted: May 1, 2018 2:04 PM
Updated: May 1, 2018 2:21 PM

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A federal judge has denied a request from Klamath Basin farmers and ranchers to ease their water situation this spring.

A court injunction requires the Bureau of Reclamation to hold 50,000 acre-feet of stored water in Upper Klamath Lake through early June to flush away a deadly parasite that infects threatened coho salmon.

Because it's been a dry year, the bureau believes the injunction makes it unlikely there will be enough water for farms.

The Klamath Water Users Association asked U.S. District Court Judge William H. Orrick to modify the injunction, but the San Francisco-based judge denied the request late Monday.

The ruling pleased groups that rely on salmon, such as the Yurok Tribe and Pacific Coast fishermen. (End AP article)


CLICK HERE for our previous story on how Klamath River dams have been ordered to comply with the judge's decision.


“Although the court says these flows are based on the best available science, the plaintiffs’ science has yet to be peer reviewed,” said Jerry Enman, a board member for the Klamath Water Users Association (KWUA) and farmer near Merrill, Oregon.

The KWUA claims that their opposition to Judge Orrick's order comes not just from necessity based on the livelihoods of farmers and ranchers along the Klamath River, but is also supported by the latest science.

“Federal fisheries biologist experts raised serious questions to the validity of dilution flows as prescribed in the injunction. Coupled with that, I felt we did a great job showing the court that the science relative to the need for an injunction and dilution flows is doubtful.”

Meanwhile, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (USBR), Pacificorp, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), and NOAA Fisheries have announced that they are looking to fund coho habitat restoration projects within the Klamath River and its tributaries downstream of Iron Gate Dam through grant opportunities.

NFWF has created a Request for Proposals for a total of $1 million in potential grants. The deadline for those proposals is June 1, with an informational webinar on May 18 from 10 a.m. to noon.

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