NANFA-- The God Squad

Christopher Scharpf (
Wed, 21 Mar 2001 16:36:40 -0400


The Oregonian reported yesterday, 15 March, that the U.S. Bureau of
Reclamation may request Interior Secretary Gale Norton to convene the
Endangered Species Act (ESA) "God Squad" to decide whether to risk
the extinction of two endangered Klamath River fish species - coho
salmon and suckers so the basin's potato growers can irrigate their fields
this drought year. The Cabinet-level "GodSquad," known formally as the
Endangered Species Committee, canagree to allow a species to go extinct,
but in meeting twice previously toconsider the fate of three species, the
committee has never done so.

The news that the "God Squad" may be asked to intervene, came
following Tuesday's announcement by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
(USFWS) that the Bureau of Reclamation's Klamath Reclamation
Project is violating the ESA by jeopardizing the continued existence of
ESA-listed Lost River and shortnose suckers in Upper Klamath Lake. To
protect the endangered fish, USFWS wants the water level raised by one
foot in Upper Klamath Lake, irrigation canals screened, and fish ladders
built at some project dams. The National Marine Fisheries Service
(NMFS) is drafting its own opinion on the project's effects on coho
salmon, first listed as threatened in 1997. That opinion may say that
project operations are jeopardizing salmon and is almost certain to call
for increased flows in the Klamath River.

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