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Water case moves to Portland

A Klamath County court case that could affect both endangered Lost River and shortnose sucker and the outcome of the irrigation season in the Klamath Basin has been moved from San Francisco to Portland, with a hearing date yet to be determined.

Klamath Water Users Association, Sunnyside Irrigation District and Ben Duval are defendant intervenors in the case brought by Klamath Tribes against the Bureau of Reclamation, U.S. Fish & Wildlife, and National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS).

The Klamath Tribes is asking, through a court injunction, that Reclamation, U.S. Fish & Wildlife, and NMFS better manage levels and water quality in Upper Klamath Lake.

Judge Michael W. Mosman will preside over the case at Mark O. Hatfield U.S. Courthouse in Portland, a case that was previously presided over by Judge William H. Orrick.

“While venue may be proper in the Northern District of California, it is more appropriate in the United States District Court for the District of Oregon: the Klamath Tribes are headquartered there, the sucker fish are there, the Upper Klamath Lake is there, and the Bureau and the FWS have offices there,” said Orrick in a July 26 ruling.

“I will let the transferee court address the pleadings as it will.”

Mosman, a native of Eugene, was nominated to his current position by former President George W. Bush in May 2003, and confirmed by the Senate later that fall. He’s served as chief judge of U.S. District Court in Portland since 2016.

Mosman also has served as judge of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court since 2013, and started as judge in Alien Terrorist Removal Court starting this year.

Scott White, executive director of Klamath Water Users Association, commented that he is hopeful the court transfer likely means agriculture producers can finish out the irrigation season.

“I can’t imagine that this is going to have a conference and get scheduled before the end of the season and on top of that, have a ruling, regardless of outcome,” White said on Tuesday.

“We still have time to finish the season out, which is a really big deal for the growers here who have had thousands of dollars in the ground already, and are just looking to bring those crops to harvest,” White added.

“We’re concerned about the health of the fish as well, and we want to protect what’s in the best interest of everybody.”

Don Gentry, chairman of the Klamath Tribes, reiterated the Tribes will be prepared for the case regardless of the venue.

“I believe that we’ll be prepared to move forward with the court,” Gentry said.





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