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Interior Department Statement on
                     National Research Council Report

  10/21/03 (Washington) – The Interior Department issued the following statement in
response to the National Research Council report, “Endangered and
Threatened Fishes in the Klamath River Basin,” that was released today:

  The Department appreciates the hard work and thoroughness of the National
Research Council in preparing this report, which we are in the process of
It should be noted first that the Council reaffirmed its position that
there was not sufficient evidence to support the lake levels and flow
regime for the endangered suckers and threatened coho salmon respectively,
which had been required by the Fish and Wildlife Service and the National
Marine Fisheries Service in their 2001 Biological Opinions. The Council
complimented the agencies for their collaborative work on the two long-term
Biological Opinions issued in 2002.
  The Department is pleased that the National Research Council determined
the operation of the Klamath Project -- particularly the flows adopted
consistent with the 2002 biological opinion -- was not the cause of the
2002 fish kill and that changes in the operation of the project at the time
would not have prevented it.
We also note that the Council found that
conditions on the Trinity River and other Klamath tributaries -- rather
than the main stem -- provide the best opportunity for preventing future
kills through increased cold water flows. The Department this year sought
and received permission to increase these cold-water flows on the Trinity
River. There was no fish kill in 2003 like that seen in 2002.
  “We agree with the council that the recovery of coho salmon and the two
suckers cannot be achieved through actions primarily focused on the Klamath
Project but require a broader approach that includes the participation of a
wide range of stakeholders in the basin,” said Interior Secretary Gale A.
Norton. “Consultation, communication and cooperation are the cornerstone of
the Department’s approach to conservation, and we will work closely with
other federal agencies and all the stakeholders in the basin to recover
these species while providing for agriculture, refuges, and fisheries.”
    The Council made a number of specific recommendations and suggestions
that we are reviewing.




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