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Federal court says tribal rights outrank farmers' rights

A federal appeals court has found that the water rights of Klamath Basin tribes take priority over those of farmers who sued the federal government in 2001 for reducing their irrigation water supply after a dry year.

Posted: Nov 19, 2019 3:43 AM
Updated: Nov 19, 2019 3:52 AM

KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. (AP) - A federal appeals court has found that the water rights of Klamath Basin tribes take priority over those of farmers who sued the federal government in 2001 for reducing their irrigation water supply after a dry year.

The Yurok tribe said Sunday that the ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit was a key step forward.

The case over how to allocate Klamath River water among farmers, tribes and endangered fish has been in court for 20 years.

The farmers were granted water rights more than a century ago but the tribes say there isn’t enough water left to preserve chinook and coho salmon, which are protected by the Endangered Species Act.

The irrigators have not decided if they will appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

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