By KAREN GAUDETTE
.c The Associated Press
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) - A federal judge on Friday rejected an effort by
commercial anglers, American Indian tribes and environmental groups seeking
to force the government to release more water to the Klamath River instead of
diverting it to farms.
Commercial fishermen sued the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and the National
Marine Fisheries Service last month, arguing that water being stored for
farmers should be released to help young salmon migrate to the ocean.
The Klamath straddles the California-Oregon state line, and its waters
irrigate crops as well as provide a home to fish such as the threatened coho
In recent days, biologists and U.S. Forest Service employees have rescued
hundreds of baby salmon and other fish stranded in puddles along the banks of
But U.S. District Judge Saundra Armstrong said Friday there is not enough
scientific evidence to prove the salmon need more water at this time.
Dan Keppen, executive director of the Klamath Water Users Association that
represented farmers at the Oakland hearing, said in a statement they were
pleased with the ruling.
Kristen Boyles, an attorney for the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's
Associations that filed the suit, said a decision about whether to appeal the
judge's ruling would not be made until she sees the written ruling.
``The sad part is, we have salmon being stranded right now. We have fish
being rescued,'' she said.
In March, Interior Secretary Gale Norton and Agriculture Secretary Ann
Veneman told the Bureau of Reclamation to begin full irrigation deliveries to
the 1,400 farms on the Klamath Reclamation Project, straddling the state line
east of the Cascade Range.
They were responding to pleas from farmers who experienced a shortage of
irrigation water last year due to record drought. Last year, the bureau
sharply cut back irrigation to maintain water levels set under the Endangered
Species Act for endangered suckers in Upper Klamath Lake and threatened coho
salmon in the Klamath River.
The suit claimed springtime flows for the Klamath River this year have been
as little as 60 percent of the water required for salmon to survive, and
sought an increase to at least the same amount that was provided last year.
On the Net:
Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations: http://www.pcffa.org
Klamath Basin Irrigators: http://www.klamathbasincrisis.org
/"Unless stated otherwise, comments made on this list do not necessarily
/ reflect the beliefs or goals of the North American Native Fishes
/ This is the discussion list of the North American Native Fishes Association
/ nanfa_at_aquaria.net. To subscribe, unsubscribe, or get help, send the word
/ subscribe, unsubscribe, or help in the body (not subject) of an email to
/ nanfa-request_at_aquaria.net. For a digest version, send the command to
/ nanfa-digest-request_at_aquaria.net instead.
/ For more information about NANFA, visit our web page, http://www.nanfa.org