SEVERE WX : Winter Weather Advisory View Alerts

Judge Avoids Ruling on Upper Klamath Lake Water Dispute

A federal judge heard arguments in a case filed by the Klamath Tribes of southern Oregon seeking greater protections for endangered sucker fish in Upper Klamath Lake.

Posted: Jul. 23, 2018 4:25 PM
Updated: Jul. 23, 2018 4:49 PM

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — A federal judge heard arguments in a case filed by the Klamath Tribes of southern Oregon seeking greater protections for endangered sucker fish in Upper Klamath Lake.

San Francisco District Judge William Orrick listened to the arguments Friday in a lawsuit that requests an injunction to hold more water in the lake for shortnose and Lost River suckers, a culturally significant food for the tribes, the Capital Press reported.

However, farmers and ranchers worry the injunction would shut off surface water irrigation in the Klamath Project, costing about $400 million in lost annual economic value.

Orrick did not issue a ruling, and is considering a motion to move the case to a different court. He did not give a timetable for his decision.

The non-ruling means irrigators in the Klamath Project will be allowed to continue watering their crops — for now, said Mark Jackson, deputy director of the Klamath Water Users Association.

"Things are looking pretty promising in the short-term," he said.

The lawsuit names the Bureau of Reclamation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service as defendants.

The Klamath Water Users Association, Sunnyside Irrigation District and California farmer Ben DuVal filed to intervene in the tribes' lawsuit. They argue an injunction would have a devastating effect on local agriculture, and claim there is no scientific evidence linking higher water levels in Upper Klamath Lake with healthier sucker populations.

Both the shortnose and Lost River suckers — known to the tribes as C'waam and Koptu — were listed as endangered in 1988.

The tribes' lawsuit, filed in May, claims the bureau continues to operate the Klamath Project "in a manner inimical to the continued existence and ultimate recovery of the C'waam and Koptu and in direct violation of the (Endangered Species Act)."

Don Gentry, tribal chairman, said the intent is not to harm agriculture, but to do what is necessary to protect the fish.

If the Klamath Tribes succeed with their injunction for more water in Upper Klamath Lake, Johnson said it would essentially shut down surface water irrigation for about 360 square miles (932 square kilometers) in the project.


Information from: Capital Press,

Article Comments

Scattered Clouds
58° wxIcon
Hi: 67° Lo: 45°
Feels Like: 58°
Broken Clouds
55° wxIcon
Hi: 58° Lo: 49°
Feels Like: 55°
Crater Lake
Broken Clouds
49° wxIcon
Hi: 57° Lo: 37°
Feels Like: 47°
Grants Pass
63° wxIcon
Hi: 63° Lo: 45°
Feels Like: 63°
Klamath Falls
Broken Clouds
49° wxIcon
Hi: 59° Lo: 36°
Feels Like: 47°
Rain & Snow Returning Tonight
KDRV Radar
KDRV Fire Danger
KDRV Weather Cam

Community Events

Latest Video


Pet of the Week: Smoky Bear


Monday, May 20 afternoon weather


Happy Camp woman hero


Fire investigation underway near Pomodori Bistro & Wine Bar


The Pledge: Lone Pine Elementary, Mrs. Brasseur, 2nd Grade


Monday, May 20 morning weather


Sunday, May 19 evening weather


A local block party builds strong families


Three people rob archery store in Medford


Sunday, May 19 morning weather