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SF Judge denies Klamath Basin water users motion to delay, modify injunction

U.S. District Court Judge William H. Orrick issued an order late Monday night denying a motion by Klamath Water Users Association to modify a court-ordered injunction in a case of Hoopa Valley Tribe v. Bureau of Reclamation.

The injunction was first issued March 24, 2017, in two related cases: Hoopa Valley Tribe v. Yurok Tribe v. Bureau of Reclamation. The injunctions, according to Orrick's ruling, required the Bureau of Reclamation to require certain types of water flows in the Klamath River Project.

Defendants and intervenors include KWUA, Sunnyside Irrigation District, Tulelake resident Ben DuVal, Klamath Drainage District, Klamath Irrigation District, and Pine Grove Irrigation District, intervened on the side of the Bureau and the National Marine Fisheries Service in both cases, according to the order, and advocated for protecting their livelihoods.


Plaintiffs in the case, the Hoopa Valley Tribe and the Yurok Tribe, contend that their cultural heritage and economic wellbeing revolve around the salmon's health, as well as Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations, Institute for Fisheries Resources, and Klamath Riverkeeper.

“I issued the injunctions because the law demands that endangered species are entitled to primary protection,” Orrick wrote.

“Given the pendency of the appeal, my jurisdiction is limited,” Orrick added. “Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 62.1, I consider the merits of intervenors' motion and DENY it because they do not show newly discovered evidence sufficient to justify suspending or modifying the injunctions.”

Orrick said staying enforcement would not preserve the status quo, and that he does not have jurisdiction to grant water users' requested stay while an appeal is pending.

“Nor would I in light of the evidence of record,” Orrick said.

Orrick said, with respect to federal defendants' proposed plan, that federal defendants' obligations under the injunctions are for partial compliance with the injunction if full compliance isn't possible.

“And again I urge that the able bodied scientists who are working on this issue attempt to reach consensus on whether the best available science has changed since issuance of the 2013 Biological Opinion to the extent that the injunctions should be modified prior to water year 2019,” Orrick said.

KWUA Executive Director Scott White commented on the order, and said the association is looking at the best time for a public meeting regarding the order.

“The question is, how much water is available for actual delivery to the customers,” White said Tuesday morning.

 “That's the Bureau's role … It's a very tough situation that this entire community is in right now.”

 The Hoopa Valley Tribe could not be reached for comment as of press time.

 Herald and News will provide updates online throughout the day and at www.heraldandnews.com and in Wednesday's edition. See related story here



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              Page Updated: Tuesday May 01, 2018 02:57 PM  Pacific

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