Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
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Feds: Fish still endangered
U.S. Fish and Wildlife service says suckers should stay on list
The suckers live primarily in Upper Klam ath Lake and are at the center of water battles in the Basin. The Upper Klamath is the primary reservoir of a federal irrigation project that has had to shut off water to farmers in times of drought to maintain the suckers’ habitat.The agency’s Sacramento, Calif., office announced Friday that a new petition filed this year offered no new information to change a decision that it made in 2004 and reaffirmed in 2007 and 2008. The petition was filed by water rights attorney James Buchal of Portland.
Dan Keppen, director of the Family Farm Alliance, said Fish and Wildlife’s support for the suckers comes at the expense of area irrigators. He said area farmers would like to see the fish “de-listed.”“As long as those fish are listed, it creates uncertainty for the farmers’ water supply,” Keppen said.
Keppen said area farmers helped place a fish screen at the A Canal head gates, fish ladders that allow suckers to move from the Upper Klamath Lake into Lake Ewauna and opened up historic habitats for the fish that had been closed for more than 70 years.“I’m sure the folks in irrigation are going to be disappointed,” Keppen said. “All I can hope is those cooperative efforts will continue. Farmers ought to be rewarded for the things they’ve done.”
Fish and Wildlife has tried to protect the fish by keeping water levels in the Upper Klamath Lake high, Keppen said. At the same time, groups have lobbied to increase the flow of water downstream to protect another endangered species — coho salmon.“Those two things put Klamath irrigators in a tough spot,” Keppen said.
Page Updated: Sunday June 28, 2009 03:11 AM Pacific
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