Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
Upholding rural Americans' rights to grow food,
own property, and caretake our wildlife and natural resources.
For Release on July 21, 2004
Contact: Curt Mullis (Klamath Falls) 541-885-8481
Al Donner (Sacramento) 916-414-6566
FWS TO CONDUCT COMPREHENSIVE REVIEW OF KLAMATH SUCKER POPULATIONS
Service finds that delisting petition does not contain substantial new
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today that it will
conduct an extensive review of two rare fish in the Upper Klamath Basin
that currently have federal protection as endangered species, the Lost
River sucker and the shortnose sucker. The announcement was made at the
same time that the Service concluded that the two fish should remain
protected by the Endangered Species Act during the review, saying that a
petition to delist the two species does not provide substantial new
information to warrant delisting.
The Service believes the study, known as a five-year review under the
ESA, will be a valuable management activity. It will help the Service,
other agencies and Basin stakeholders to understand more precisely the
condition of the two species, assess the impact of actions now underway to
help the species, and determine what is needed to assure their recovery.
"Populations of the Klamath suckers declined significantly in the
last decade," said Steve Thompson, manager of the Service's
California/Nevada Operations Office. "But potentially important restoration
measures are under way that create optimism that the Klamath suckers can be
restored to good health."
For the second time in two years, the Service has found that a
petition filed by the Interactive Citizens United does not contain
substantial scientific information to warrant removing the Los River sucker
and the shortnose sucker from the Federal list of threatened and endangered
species. The two sucker species have been federally listed as endangered
The petition was submitted in September 12, 2001, by Richard A.
Gierak, representing Interactive Citizens United. On May 12, 2002 the
Service published a finding that the delisting petition did not present
substantial information. This finding was challenged by the petitioners,
and on September 3, 2003 the Federal District Court remanded the finding
and ordered the Service to either reissue the initial finding with
additional explanations or to do a status review. The Service has
extensively reviewed the information provided in the petition, clarified
the finding, and concluded that it should conduct a broader review.
The two species occur naturally only in the Upper Klamath Basin. Both
species live in lakes and reservoirs most of the year and migrate upstream
in the spring to spawn. The Lost River sucker, can reach 39 inches long and
can live at least 45 years. The shortnose sucker can reach 20 inches in
length and live as long as 33 years.
Sucker populations increased in the early 1990s, then decreased
significantly again due to a series of fish die-offs from 1995-97,
indicating that the population remains at risk. Other factors, including
poor water quality, compound the problems of the species.
Presently, important cooperative restoration efforts are under way
that could help the two species, including habitat restoration, fish screen
installation and other activities in the Klamath Basin. The Service is a
cooperative partner in federally-funded efforts to improve the status of
the two species while maintaining the other important community interests
throughout the Basin.
The Department of Interior (DOI) has committed funding to the Klamath
basin, much of which is aimed specifically at helping restoring the sucker
population. The proposed FY 2005 budget submitted to Congress in January
recommends significant increases in federal spending directly related to
the suckers, including a $5.9 million increase in Service partnerships
with other parties to restore Klamath fish habitat, $4.6 million to
purchase critical Klamath lands and restore it to wetlands that helps the
suckers, $2.5 for new studies of the suckers, and $2.1 million more to
remove Chiloquin Dam and reopen 70 miles of sucker habitat on the Sprague
"The Service is determined to restore the Klamath sucker population to a
viable condition, while meeting the needs of the tribes that rely on the
sucker for important cultural benefits and on the local economy," said
Thompson. "The Service is open to all information and proposals for
cooperative efforts to assist the species in the Klamath Basin."
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal agency
responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and
plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American
people. The Service manages the 95-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge
System, which encompasses 544 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small
wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national
fish hatcheries, 63 Fish and Wildlife Management offices and 81 ecological
services field stations. The agency enforces federal wildlife laws,
administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations,
restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife
habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign governments with their
conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Assistance program,
which distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on
fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.
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