Mount Shasta Herald, Weed Press, Dunsmuir News - Mt.
Lawsuit aims to alter Endangered
Updated: Wednesday, December 1, 2004 1:52 PM PST
The Pacific Legal Foundation
has announced it will file a lawsuit intended to
challenge provisions of the Endangered Species Act
aimed at de-listing numerous species throughout
California including salmon on the Klamath River.
The suit will contend, among
other issues, that the United States Fish and
Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries
Service has erred in not distinguishing between
hatchery and naturally spawned fish. The policy
counts only spawned fish that creates the conditions
for fish to be listed as Endangered.
The PLF claims the method of counting is in
violation of a court order in another lawsuit that
directed agencies to include hatchery coho in the
counts in the Klamath Basin and steelhead throughout
Specifically, the PLF argues that "critical habitat
designations throughout California violate the ESA
because the federal agencies did not adequately
identify the areas that are essential to species
conservation and routinely relied on inadequate
economic analysis in evaluating the social impact of
designations as required under the act."
"The federal government has
been using a flawed template to designate critical
habitat," said PLF attorney Reed Hopper. "The
government's strategy is to set aside as much land
as possible without doing the work to determine
where the species actually live and what they
require to recover. The result is that species
languish on the endangered species list endlessly
without any real hope of being saved."
Hopper said the lawsuit will "promote species
recovery by forcing the federal government to set
goals and meet clear standards in designating
The PLF has an established record of challenging the
ESA including lawsuits that the PLF says are
intended to "protect human life and protect
In a press release on Earth day 2004, the PLF said
that "environmental extremism" has been responsible
for "dramatically impacting people's lives and
livelihoods every day, often for species protections
that are illegal or unnecessary."
Among the top five human costs of environmental
extremism the PLF declares is, "Cutting people off
from water to give to fish."
The statement is a direct reference to the Klamath
"To provide more water to 'endangered' salmon, even
though there was no scientific evidence that the
fish should even be listed as 'endangered,'" the
report said. "Klamath farmers lost their crops and
the local economy lost an estimated $200 million in
crop and property value, devastating the region.
Some families lost farms that had been in their
families for generations."
The Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's
Association official position is that Klamath Basin
irrigators siphoning off water for crops has been
devastating to fish populations.
"The Klamath River was once the third most
productive salmon river system in the United States.
Today, thanks to habitat blocking dams, poor water
quality and too little water left in the river, the
once abundant Klamath salmon runs have now been
reduced to less than 10 percent of their historic
size. Some species, such as coho salmon, are now in
such low numbers in the Klamath River that they are
listed under the Federal Endangered Species Act,"
the PCFFA states. "Salmon losses in the Klamath
Basin have had devastating impacts on the lower
river fishing-dependent economy, putting thousands
of people out of work and eliminating tens of
millions of dollars annually from the economy of
these rural areas and coastal ports, from Fort
Bragg, CA, to Florence, OR. The need to protect
depressed Klamath salmon runs has also triggered
fishing closures on otherwise abundant stocks,
mostly hatchery fish from the California Central
Valley, all up and down the west coast, causing many
indirect economic costs as well."
"The PLF is just grandstanding for media attention,"
said Glenn Spain of the PCFFA. "Their notice to sue
is six months premature. The decision as to how the
count will be done isn't due until June of next
Spain says the Federation "opposes the PLF in all
"Salmon are in trouble whether they believe it or
not. The numbers are clear." Spain said. "The
resource is too valuable not to have some protection
to prevent extinction."
Dan Keppen of the Klamath Water Users Association
that represents irrigators in the Klamath Project
supports the PLF.
"The 2001 shutoff was because of the salmon. If the
coho weren't listed, we would have the water we
need," Keppen said.
To protect salmon, the federal government shut off
water to farmers in 2001 resulting in a loss of
crops with many farmers going bankrupt, some losing
Keppen contends the studies on flows needed for
salmon was flawed and that counting the hatchery
fish would result in the a de-listing of the salmon
from endangered status.
"The hatchery fish have been in the system for a
long time," Keppen said. "The PLF is saying count
them all. We consider them as allies."
NOTE: In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section
107, any copyrighted
material herein is distributed without profit or
payment to those who have
expressed a prior interest in receiving this
information for non-profit
research and educational purposes only. For more
information go to: