SEVERE WX : Red Flag Warning View Alerts
STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

Supreme Court declines to take up Klamath water users' case

The organization that represents farmers and ranchers in the Klamath Basin says that its 2001 claim against the federal government was rebuffed at the Supreme Court this week.

Posted: Jun 22, 2020 12:02 PM
Updated: Jun 22, 2020 12:18 PM

KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. — The U.S Supreme Court has declined to take up a long-running case filed by farmers and ranchers in the Klamath Basin demanding compensation from the federal government for water use limits.

The Klamath Water Users Association (KWUA), an organization that represents a coalition of irrigators in the region, announced the decision in a statement on Monday.

“The Court accepts review of a very small percentage of cases. Still, this development is very disappointing,” said KWUA Executive Director Paul Simmons.

The case, dubbed Baley v. United States, was filed in 2001 after the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation ordered that water levels in Upper Klamath Lake be kept at a certain level in an attempt to protect several species of fish native to both the lake and the Klamath River.

Attempts to revive the populations of Lost River and Shortnose suckers, two species sacred to the Klamath Tribe, have been led by the tribes and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. A separate but related effort to preserve Coho salmon in the Klamath River has come from the Yurok Tribe of northern California.

Plaintiffs in the 2001 case argued that the federal government was required under the Fifth Amendment to pay compensation to irrigators for limiting their water rights.


RELATED: Farmers organize convoy to call attention to water issues in Klamath Basin


"Ultimately, last year, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit agreed with the trial court that the plaintiffs were not entitled to compensation because there existed senior, tribal rights for lake levels and flows in at least as great amounts as were required under the ESA," the KWUA said. "That logic meant that no property was actually taken, according to the trial court."

Irrigators petitioned the Supreme Court for a review of the case, claiming that the 2017 decision was based on "fundamental misunderstandings and misapplications of western water law by the federal courts." The petition was supported by briefs from multiple other organizations and local county governments.

“We thought we had a decent chance, but it did not go the way we wanted. There is no choice but to move on,” Simmons said. “Going forward, we focus on having enough water, period. The Klamath Project is authorized for irrigation and should be operated for irrigation.”

“This decision affirms sound and settled principles of Tribal reserved water rights," said attorney Stefanie Tsosie of Earthjustice, an environmental law firm. "Earthjustice has long worked to protect and restore the Klamath River and its salmon, which hold significant cultural value for Tribes in the Klamath Basin and are essential to sustaining the West Coast commercial salmon fishing industry.”

Klamath farmers and ranchers organized a rally at the end of May, attempting to bring greater attention to the water shortages that they face. While the "Shut Down & Fed Up" push did not immediately produce a major reversal of existing federal policy, the KWUA reported that a proposal to further reduce the water supply for irrigators did not materialize.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 10230

Reported Deaths: 215
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Multnomah248869
Marion164848
Washington158620
Clackamas84525
Umatilla7576
Union3561
Lincoln3464
Deschutes2190
Lane2183
Malheur2061
Polk15912
Linn1579
Jackson1490
Yamhill1398
Jefferson1330
Klamath1301
Morrow1021
Benton945
Hood River930
Wasco911
Josephine551
Clatsop510
Douglas500
Coos420
Columbia390
Lake210
Tillamook140
Crook130
Wallowa100
Curry80
Baker50
Sherman30
Gilliam10
Grant10
Harney10
Unassigned00
Wheeler00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 264681

Reported Deaths: 6373
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Los Angeles1150243487
Riverside19450479
Orange16854366
San Diego16726387
San Bernardino14922269
Imperial7039114
Alameda6855140
Fresno611077
Santa Clara5273161
Kern524582
Tulare4627136
San Joaquin447455
Sacramento423669
San Francisco377650
Contra Costa366281
San Mateo3536108
Santa Barbara326129
Ventura324047
Marin271921
Stanislaus266045
Kings263432
Monterey206415
Solano147625
Sonoma135911
Merced127211
Placer87711
San Luis Obispo7012
Yolo67726
Madera5785
Santa Cruz4573
Napa3764
San Benito2732
Sutter2523
Lassen2420
El Dorado2260
Butte2063
Shasta1545
Humboldt1444
Nevada1291
Glenn1220
Yuba1061
Tehama881
Lake871
Mendocino850
Colusa700
Del Norte581
Calaveras530
Mono451
Tuolumne430
Inyo331
Amador310
Siskiyou310
Mariposa271
Plumas110
Alpine20
Trinity20
Sierra10
Unassigned00
Medford
Clear
76° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 53°
Feels Like: 76°
Brookings
Overcast
60° wxIcon
Hi: 63° Lo: 50°
Feels Like: 60°
Crater Lake
Clear
77° wxIcon
Hi: 77° Lo: 43°
Feels Like: 77°
Grants Pass
Clear
70° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 51°
Feels Like: 70°
Klamath Falls
Clear
77° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 40°
Feels Like: 77°
Windy and bright Monday
KDRV Radar
KDRV Fire Danger
KDRV Weather Cam

Community Events

Latest Video

Image

Monday, July 6 afternoon weather

Image

Monday, July 6 morning weather

Image

Sunday, July 5 evening weather

Image

Golf Tip of the Week: Oak Knoll Golf Course

Image

Saturday, July 5 morning weather

Image

Saturday, July 4 evening weather

Image

Saturday, July 4 morning weather

Image

Jessica Worden, Taroko Asian Tapas Bar

Image

Friday, July 3rd Evening Weather

Image

Economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic