data triggers new biological opinion
producers in the Klamath Project may start the 2020 primary
irrigation season with a new biological opinion that informs
and governs water management according to environmental
requirements under the Endangered Species Act.
a consultant hired to assist Bureau of Reclamation’s Klamath
Basin Area Office and federal wildlife agencies provided
“erroneous” data that informed the most recent 2018
biological opinions, according to a news release.
The U.S. Bureau
of Reclamation and federal wildlife agencies announced
Friday they have started the process of the Endangered
Species Act consultation for a new biological opinion for
the Klamath Reclamation Project. The agencies plan to
complete the biological opinion by March 31, 2020, in time
for the beginning of the irrigation season that starts
tentatively on or around April 1, 2020.
In letters from
Reclamation to National Marine Fisheries Service and U.S.
Fish and Wildlife Service obtained by the H&N, Jeff
Nettleton, who manages Reclamation’s Klamath Basin Area
Office, asked to begin the re-initiation process on
Wednesday, Nov. 13. Nettleton stated there are inaccuracies
related to data regarding coho salmon fry and the effects
and/or critical habitat to the fish.
“No one is
happy this is necessary,” said Paul Simmons, executive
director of the Klamath Water Users Association, in a KWUA
news release. “But it is what the agencies should do under
the circumstances, and we support them getting the word out
and moving forward.”
Endangered Species Act, federal agencies, including
Reclamation, must ensure that their actions do not
jeopardize the continued existence of threatened and
obtain the opinions of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service or
National Marine Fisheries Service as to whether an action
will cause jeopardy as well as how to avoid jeopardy.
Agencies then determine how to move forward in light of
those biological opinions.
believe Reclamation can do anything other than pick up and
move ahead, and we’ve confirmed that to them already,”
gone through the consultation process several times for
biological opinions for endangered Lost River and shortnose
sucker in Upper Klamath Lake since the 1990s and threatened
coho salmon in the Klamath River, downstream of Iron Gate
The most recent
consultation, which also took into consideration the effects
on the killer whale in the Pacific Ocean, was expected to
last through 2024. The biological opinions produced from
that effort was expedited at the time by President Donald
Trump in the signing of an executive memo in Scottsdale,
“We were glad
they got it done, but at the same time, it minimized the
opportunity to talk about some things we might want to have
addressed,” Simmons said, of the 2018 biological opinions.
things that we believe that have gone beyond the duties of
the Klamath Project.”
to be able to offer as much input from water users this time
around, despite the short timeline. He cited an example
wanting to ensure that water users are not the only parties
held responsible for mitigating or eliminating fish disease
such as C. Shasta in the Klamath River.
undesirable situation, but they’re doing what they should,”
Simmons said, of federal agencies.
for Bureau of Reclamation was not available for comment as
of press time.
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