County intervenes in Klamath
Tribes water allocation lawsuit
Klamath County has joined multiple groups intervening in a
lawsuit filed by the Klamath Tribes against the federal
government, which seeks to protect endangered suckerfish in
Upper Klamath Lake.
On Tuesday, county commissioners voted to file an amicus brief
to become a “friend of the court,” allowing the county to
present information that may impact a judge’s ruling on the
case. County Counsel Mika Blain said she expected the brief to
be filed by the end of the day Tuesday.
The Tribes filed suit May 23 against the Bureau of Reclamation,
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries
Service, calling on defendants to take “immediate, emergency
measures” to provide enough water for suckerfish to survive in
Due to a warm and dry winter, the Klamath Basin is anticipating
a severe drought this summer, and the Tribes said insufficient
water in the lake could lead to an extinction-level event for
Klamath suckerfish are protected by the Endangered Species Act
and the Tribes argue the federal government must provide enough
water to comply with the act.
The suit has been met with resistance from the Klamath Water
Users Association, which disagrees additional water would help
the fish and claims the Tribes’ request would place undue and
extreme hardship on local irrigators. On May 29, the Tribes
requested an injunction that could lead to a shutoff of
irrigation water, and on June 27 the association was among 12
parties who filed objections to the request.
A hearing scheduled for July 20 in San Francisco to consider the
Klamath County Commissioner Donnie Boyd was among the 12
parties, though he filed as an individual and not in his
capacity as commissioner. Boyd told the court an irrigation
shutoff would significantly harm local sales of farm equipment,
citing his experience as former owner of Floyd A. Boyd Co.,
based in Merrill.
When commissioners decided to intervene Tuesday, Boyd disclosed
his previous filing and said, as a private individual involved
in the case, he could not sign the county’s motion to intervene.
Commissioner Derrick DeGroot, chair of the board, was approved
to sign the motion.
Multiple other parties have filed their intents to intervene in
the case, including the Hoopa Valley Tribe, Yurok Tribe,
Institute for Fisheries Resources, Klamath Riverkeeper and
Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations. The case
is assigned to Ninth U.S. District Court Judge William Orrick,
in San Francisco.
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: