Time to Take Action
Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
Upholding rural Americans' rights to grow food,
own property, and caretake our wildlife and natural resources.

Tribal-driven lawsuits
bills, laws, acts
Tribal calls to shut down water use

Indian Matters on the Klamath - link to treaties, case-law, background and resources, researched by Marcia Armstrong.

* Indians Table of Contents

Klamath Tribes sue federal government over water releases to farmers, Capital Press 5/13/22. "...KWUA says the anticipated 50,000 acre-foot Project allotment represents no more than 5% of all the water that will be used this season from Upper Klamath Lake. About 40% will be sent down the Klamath River for ESA-listed salmon, 28% will be held in the lake for C’waam and Koptu and 27% will be lost to evaporation..." KBC NOTE: Klamath Project irrigators store their irrigation water in Upper Klamath Lake, causing the lake to be higher than historically possible before the Klamath Project was built. The highest sucker counts were when the lake was lower, before the ESA mandated confiscating our legally stored water.

Klamath Tribe suing Biden administration over Oregon water to farmers, H&N 4/15/22. “We implore you to rescind the 2022 plan and operate the project this year consistent with the law, which requires the prioritization of the needs of the C’Waam and Koptu,” (Klamath Tribe Chairman Don) Gentry said using native language terms to describe the suckerfish. The fish also have spiritual, cultural and historical significance to the tribes." Yurok Vice-Chairman Frankie Meyers said, “The Upper and Lower Klamath Basin once functioned as an integrated system that provided abundant salmon, suckers and waterfowl with minimal intervention. It is our duty to bring this system back into balance and we will never stop working toward that goal..."
KBC NOTE: Not mentioned in the H&N article, last summer farmers got zero allocation while the Bureau of Rec. withheld 40,000 acre feet of our stored water above what the ESA required, and refused to pay it back to the farmers. In 2021 the agencies and tribes dewatered our refuges for the first time in more than 10,000 years according to Fish and Wildlife Service.
Ongoing fish kill on the Klamath River is an 'absolute worst-case scenario'  (Ongoing fish kill on the Klamath River is an 'absolute worst-case  scenario') — High Country News – Know the West< Photo from High Country News of Frankie Meyers. Not mentioned by Meyers is, our Klamath Basin DID function as an integrated system with abundant salmon, suckers and waterfowl until, against the direction of the "best available science," the National Research Council, the government agencies mandated higher lake levels and river flows than historically possible before the Klamath irrigation project was built. Lake level and river flow management will not increase sucker propagation according to the NRC. Suckers thrived in years of low water levels.
Watch Meyer's video: https://www.facebook.com/frankie.../videos/4455720501123904 "...You are always in the right if you're telling your government officials to give land back to indigenous communities..." A ten minute video well worth your time.  Keep in mind, every Klamath tribal member was given a ballot to vote on whether to terminate their tribe and receive money...they overwhelmingly voted to terminate and were paid for their land. They later were given allotments and most of them sold their allotments.
   Also, Mayers claimed that only white veterans were chosen to win a Tulelake homestead. FACT: WWI and WWII veterans with farm experience were entered into a contest, and winners were drawn from a pickle jar. Skin color was not a prerequisite.
Gentry: Dam removal key to reconnect salmon to Klamath | Guest Commentary |  heraldandnews.com
Photo from Herald and News. Don Gentry, current Klamath Tribal Chairman discusses termination and allotments in October 7, 2003 on Tribal Tour of the forests they hoped to be given: #9 In the van, Tribal Resource Specialist Don Gentry in discussion about Termination





Court upholds Klamath Tribes' water rights, irrigators plan to challenge, H&N 2/27/21. "...Paul Simmons, executive director of the Klamath Water Users Association, said Klamath Project irrigators are largely unaffected by the decision, as a settlement prevents the Tribes from using water rights in Oregon to curtail deliveries to the Project from Upper Klamath Lake..."

Oregon Court Affirms Klamath Tribes’ Water Rights, Klamath Tribes News Release 2/25/2021. "Wednesday's order...affirmed the senior priority date of the Klamath Tribes’ water rights in the Klamath Basin, and upheld the need to maintain a healthy and productive habitat to meet the Tribes’ treaty right to fish, hunt, trap, and gather..."

Upper Klamath Lake forecast looking poor for fish and farms, H&N 2/19/21. "Klamath Tribes have filed a notice of intent, saying they will sue the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation for violating the Endangered Species Act if Upper Klamath Lake dips below levels outlined in the 2020 biological opinion this spring...'We know that we’re in a very serious situation,' (Klamath Tribal Chairman) Gentry said. 'It looks like there’s going to be very little water, if at all, for irrigation.' ”

Yurok Tribe joins lawsuit seeking temporary restraining order to restore essential water flows for Klamath River salmon, Del Norte Triplicate 5/18/2020. "The Yurok Tribe joined the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations and the Institute for Fisheries Resources in pursuit of a temporary restraining order to reinstate water flows on the Klamath River."

4/4/2020 - KBC NOTE: PCFFA (Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen), IFR and Yurok Tribe sued to take another 50,000 acre feet of Klamath Project stored water to dump into Klamath River. Klamath Water Users settled for giving up 23,000 acre feet of their deeded water. Yuroks celebrate their victory: Yurok Tribe and commercial fishing families secure more water for salmon, The Yurok Tribe, the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations (PCFFA), and the Institute for Fisheries Resources (IFR, represented by the nonprofit environmental law firm Earthjustice, have successfully obtained a new three-year plan from the Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) for operating the Klamath Irrigation Project to increase springtime flows in the Klamath River.

Yurok vs. Reclamation case moved to March 6, H&N 2/28/2020

* Yurok Tribe files suit against Reclamation, H&N 12/29/19.

* Federal agencies can’t ignore science and facts; National Academy of Science found there was no credible scientific basis for Hardy's flow requirements,
"Dr. Hardy made the mistake while he was working for the government. He didn’t admit his mistake; instead he blamed the government. Now he is helping someone else sue the government for his mistake. While all this is going on, Dr. Hardy’s theoretical fish models remain disputed by the highest science body in the land — the National Academy"

* The court case is Yurok Tribe, Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Association and Institute for Fisheries Resources vs. U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and National Marine Fisheries Services. Attorneys Earthjustice, representing Yuroks, PCFFA and IFFR, are financially supported by George Soros

* 'Erroneous' data triggers new biological opinion, H&N 11/17/19. "The most recent consultation, which also took into consideration the effects on the killer whale in the Pacific Ocean, was expected to last through 2024"...“There are things that we believe that have gone beyond the duties of the Klamath Project,” said KWUA Executive Director Paul Simmons.

* Yurok Preliminary Injunction Motion filed 10/18/19


Yurok Tribe responds to 'Takings' outcome, H&N 11/19/19. "Officials representing the tribes interests said this means two things: (1) that Yurok water rights require the Bureau of Reclamation to provide, at minimum, enough water to the Klamath River to support salmon habitat and ensure the persistence of coho salmon and, (2) that Klamath Irrigation Project water withdrawals can only occur when there is enough water in the river to ensure the persistence of the fish."

Klamath Tribes agree with court's ruling (on Takings Case), H&N 11/16/19. "Sue Noe, affiliated with the Native American Rights Fund (NARF) and legal counsel for Klamath Tribes, said that Klamath Project irrigators, who are junior water users to the tribes, “were not entitled to receive any Project water in 2001.” (KBC NOTE: AFTER the 2001 water shutoff, the National Research Council stated that the water shutoff was "unjustified." For some perspective, NARF is supported by Ford Foundation and Carnegie Corporation, which along with George Soros' Open Society Foundation funded the northbound central American migrant caravans through Mexico:" https://onenewsnow.com/culture/2018/05/01/reports-soros-funding-border-caravan-invasion

Court Denies Farmers’ and Ranchers’ Just Compensation Claims in Water Takings Case Western Water Law challenged in the process, KWUA 11/14/19

Klamath Tribes drop ESA lawsuit against BOR. Merkley to hold PRIVATE Sucker Recovery Summit November 16 in Klamath Falls, H&N 11/9/18.

Tribes oppose irrigators’ $50 million bond request, H&N 7/18/18. "...the Tribes filed a motion for a preliminary injunction directing BOR to maintain lake levels at a minimum required to ensure fish survival...the Tribes are required by federal law to put forward financial security to cover losses incurred as a result of the injunction...the annual crop value of irrigators within the Klamath Project was reported at $169 million in 2016..(Klamath Tribe) chose to seek a remedy at a time that would inflict the worst possible damage on the agricultural community...
(Court hearing is) this Friday in San Francisco before Judge William Orrick.."
* There are 10's of thousands of suckers in Klamath Lake
* There is no number of how many suckers the tribes or government want in the lake to unlist them as "endangered"
* After the 2001 complete water shut off to the Klamath Project, the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences in 2004 wrote that the 2001 Klamath Project water shut-off was not scientifically justified. This was after there were millions of dollars worth of crop and contract losses, bankruptcies, heart attacks, suicides, and mass exodus of our Hispanic Community that had lived and worked here for decades.
*Land in the south end (Tulelake) of the Klamath Project was historically a navigable lake, up to 30' deep, over where our crops are now. It was rerouted and diverted OFF that land and INTO the Klamath River to "feed a hungry nation". Now the Tribes and government agencies want to deny us 2 feet of water to irrigate our crops.

* The biological opinion calls for historically high water levels in the Klamath Lake. Before the Klamath Project was created, the Klamath River occasionally went dry. (no water, no fish).

*Klamath Project irrigators supported removal of Chiloquin Dam, an experiment that was supposed to bring back 90% of sucker habitat, restore the suckers and irrigation water certainty. In spite of that permanent experiment, the Klamath Tribe has called on irrigation water.
* 97,160 acres of land was taken out of agriculture from ag as primary water usage (above Klamath Lake) just through 2006.  Government agencies and TNC promised that these farm and ranch acquisitions would save water, improve water quality, benefit fish, and store water for the rest of the irrigators and put more water into the Klamath River. The opposite was true.
*Dr William Lewis Jr NRC/National Research Council said we should not count on retiring agricultural land land for saving suckers, and fish kill information does not support that fish are dying by changing water level.
"Caspian tern population along the Columbia River has been responsible for around 15 million to 20 million salmon smolts being eaten annually." So they made artificial islands on Tule Lake and Klamath Lake to lure these fish-eating Caspian Terns to the Klamath Basin.

County intervenes in Klamath Tribes water allocation lawsuit, H&N 7/4/18. "...On May 29, the Tribes requested an injunction that could lead to a shutoff of irrigation water...Multiple other parties have filed their intents to intervene in the case, including the Hoopa Valley Tribe, Yurok Tribe, IFFR/Institute for Fisheries Resources, Klamath Riverkeeper and PCFFA/Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations. The case is assigned to Ninth U.S. District Court Judge William Orrick, in San Francisco..." KBC NOTE, FYI: Klamath Riverkeeper was formed by and includes Karuk Tribe spokesman Tucker and director Hillman and Klamath Tribe board members. PCFFA created IFFR.

Tribal call restricts Chiloquin water use, H&N 6/13/18. "...residents in Chiloquin cannot use city water for anything other than human consumption following a call on water by the Klamath Tribes..."

KWUA: Court should move Tribes case, H&N 6/10/18. "Klamath Water Users Association is asking that a federal court in Sacramento or a federal court in Oregon be used to hold a hearing about the lawsuit, stating that San Francisco is outside the purview of where the case originates...'They (Klamath Tribes) want to require Upper Klamath to be held at an unprecedented and artificially high elevations for suckers year-around,” said Brad Kirby, president of the association and the association’s operations committee chairman, in a news release. “I wouldn’t expect there to be any water at all available for Klamath Project irrigation and wildlife refuges until there are new biological opinions, which is not expected until 2020.' ”

Klamath Tribes sue to protect fish, H&N 5/25/18.

Klamath Tribes Press Release regarding sucker lawsuit 5/24/18
KWUA PRESS RELEASE - Klamath Water Users Association, Klamath Tribes action will hurt basin, fish benefits unlikely, 5/24/18.  "...why haven't Klamath Tribes shared this information...that lake levels will work now when they haven't for over 25 years..."

Dr. William Lewis Jr, National Research Council, at Science Workshop in Klamath Falls "Lewis explained that the suckers were listed since 1988 because of over harvest.  They stopped fishing in '87 but they did not recover. The lake has gone from 3' range under natural conditions to experiencing 6' deep in current dry years. With charts and graphs he showed the habitat and water quality, algae and chlorophyll. He said that the committee looked extensively at water levels, and they find 'no hint of a relationship'. He also said that there was no relationship between lower water levels and extreme ph levels. And "the committee cannot support the idea that water levels effect algae growth.' "It can not be achieved by lake levels." '92 was the lowest water year, and they expected it to be the least favorable for fish. 'The lowest water year produced the same amount of larvae as other years.' He said that fish kill information does not support that fish are dying by changing water level." 2/3/04

SF Judge denies Klamath Basin water users motion to delay, modify injunction, H&N 5/1/18. "Plaintiffs in the case, the Hoopa Valley Tribe and the Yurok Tribe, contend that their cultural heritage and economic wellbeing revolve around the salmon's health, as well as * Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations (PCFFA), *Institute for Fisheries Resources (IFR), and *Klamath Riverkeeper."

KBC Editor - Who litigated against the irrigators, and their prerogatives?: * PCFFA attorney Glen Spain writes how they created IFR to get non-profit funding by, namely, George Soros-funded Earthjustice. HERE IS PCFFA/Glen Spain/IFR page. Browse the lawsuits against Klamath River miners, lawsuits against Klamath Irrigators in the Takings Case of 2001, lawsuits against Klamath Irrigators' power rate deal with Pacific Power (when Klamath Project was built and paid for by Klamath farmers, Pacific Power wanted the free regulated river water for inexpensive power in exchange for at-cost power rate for irrigators).
*Klamath Riverkeeper Page Craig Tucker is Karuk Tribe spokesman, former community organizer, Green Peace activist and Friends of the River Activist. His goal: get rid of all the Klamath irrigators and "removal of four dams on the Klamath River which would represent the largest dam removal project in history." Tucker was on the steering committee of *Klamath Riverkeeper before it spun off from umbrella group Klamath Forest Alliance, and he’s presently on the board.  

Federal Judge Upholds Fish Disease Prevention Flows on Klamath River; Hoopa Tribe Celebrates Victory in U.S. District Court, Two Rivers Tribune 5/1/18.

"...Interveners’ argument mainly rests on the effects of the Klamath River Project on the family farms and ranches in the Project’s irrigation districts...I am not free to favor economic or other interests over potential harm to endangered species..."
   "...the injunctions prioritizes first and foremost the wellbeing of the endangered species (both the Coho salmon and the sucker fish to the extent that they are affected), then the federally-protected rights of the tribes, and finally the rights of the irrigation districts. Federal defendants have not shown that so-called partial implementation cannot meet the objectives of the injunctions, nor that even some lesser amount of Reserve Water would provide no benefits...."
   "...Because the injunctions demand partial compliance in the event that full compliance is not possible, federal defendants’ proposal of releasing water to the Project is clearly inconsistent with their duties. Under the injunctions, they are not permitted to release any water to the irrigation districts that could be instead used to implement Measure 4, even if only partially..."

Irrigators await Federal court ruling, H&N /24/18. "...The local irrigation districts claim that the prevalence of infection of fish are “misleading” and have asked that the court stay the injunction. The delay is holding up much needed spring water for irrigators in the Basin, as water supply canals low and inactive..."

Klamath water users to attend pivotal court hearing, Capital Press 4/6/18. "The Yurok Tribe, Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations, Institute for Fisheries Resources, Klamath Riverkeeper and the Hoopa Valley Tribe sought the injunction to protect juvenile coho after several years of deadly C. shasta outbreak.

Water Resources Development Act Includes Several Key Provisions for Indian Country, US Senate Committee on Indian Affairs 12/10/16, "Congress has been very busy accommodating Indian Tribes this session. Here's an "index" of bills nearing Obama's signature...Elaine Willman"

(Klamath) Irrigators intervene against Hoopa Tribe lawsuit, H&N 9/4/16

Hoopa Tribe Sues Federal Government over Inadequate Protections for Juvenile Salmon, Hoopa Valley Tribe PRESS RELEASE  5/17/16

Klamath Tribes and feds exercise water rights, Sacramento Bee 6/10/13. "Tens of thousands of acres in Oregon's drought-stricken Klamath Basin will have to go without irrigation water this summer after the Klamath Tribes and the federal government exercised for the first time newly confirmed powers that put the tribes in the driver's seat over the use of water..."

* KBC NOTE: The KBRA / KHSA litigation has begun. The tribes and KBRA supporters claimed their closed-door "agreements" would prevent lawsuits, however, as you can see below, the KBRA and KHSA dam removal schemes have a built-in process HOW to litigate.

Karuk Tribe documents of litigation against PacifiCorp, reposted to KBC 6/3/13
, sent by Craig Tucker, Karuk tribal spokesman. "PacifiCorp must abandon its current use of algaecidal treatments as a means to address water quality issues based on i) the results of the 2012 pilot project ii) technical comments from the Karuk Tribe and other IMIC members, and iii) the opposition to application of chemical treatments to the Klamath River from Tribes based on religious and cultural grounds." See Green Corps-trained Craig Tucker on our Whose Who page, and his campaign to create the "largest dam removal project in history."  KHSA notice by facilitator Ed Sheets KBC NOTE: algae in Klamath River reservoirs in a major reason Tucker claims the dams must be removed.

*Yurok Tribe files to shut down Klamath Irrigation;  KBRA stakeholder and "friend," Yurok,  files through KBRA Dispute Resolution to OWRD / Oregon Water Resources Department to use KBRA's ESA language to send "ESA Flows" to the ocean, posted to KBC 3/28/13.
* Document was sent to our farm leaders May 14, 2013.

Hoopa Tribe petitions feds to speed up dam removal, H&N 5/31/12.

Mark Baird comments on the recent filing of a lawsuit by the Karuk Tribe, PieNPolitics, posted to KBC 5/19/12. "The Tucker Hillman Tribe’s fake environmental group is filing suit against another economic engine in Siskiyou County. The Tucker Hillman tribe intends to join the suit as well...The felon Grant Leaf Hillman is the President of the Riverkeepers. The Greencorp Socialist S. Craig Tucker is on the Board of the Riverkeepers."
HERE for article on lawsuit
> Environmental group sues over Siskiyou County dam, Capital Press, posted to KBC  5/19/12.

(Karuk) tribe fights to have feds intervene in (Klamath) mining, Courthouse News 12/16/11. HERE > for Mining Page.

Karuk Tribe, conservation groups win suit against US Forest Service, Indybay 6/17/11. (KBC NOTE: Same groups, same agenda, same folks are KBRA voting members with our farm leaders.)

9th Circuit overruled Karuk's arguments of end all suction dredge mining, and summary by attorney James Buchal  4/8/11

D.C. Court of Appeals will not hear Hoopa trout suit, Siskiyou Daily 1/5/11

1/2/11, Two Years Ago Today: Karuk Tribe sues U.S. government to acquire village and portion of Siskiyou County 

Supreme Court redefines tribal and federal understandings of IRA; Tribes may seek Congressional fix, Indian Country Today 2/27/09

CARCIERI, GOVERNOR OF RHODE ISLAND, et al. v. SALAZAR, SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR, et al., certiorari to the united states court of appeals for the first circuit, No. 07-526. Argued November 3, 2008--Decided February 24, 2009. (KBC Note: a case of Tribes trying to acquire and put land into trust.)

Karuk Tribe and Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen sued Calif Dept of Fiah and Game to shut down suction dredge mining on the Klamath River, 2/5/09.

Groups (Karuks and Environmentalists) File Petition to Limit Gold Mining to Save Struggling Fisheries, and Response by Jim Foley 1/13/09. "Suction dredge mining is nothing more than recreational genocide. The first gold rush killed more than half our people in 10 years. This modern gold rush continues to kill our fish and our culture," says Leaf Hillman of the Karuk Tribe." (HERE for background on spiritual leader Leaf Hillman trying to kill his wife.)

In Ore., (Klamath) tribes' members eye Supreme Court case, The Oregonian, posted to KBC 11/5/08. "Jeff Mitchell, a council member of the Klamath Tribes, said he believes the Narragansett case could bear some significance in Oregon. His tribe regained its federal recognition status in 1986...We want to put more land back into trust now," he said."

California Tribal Business Alliance Releases '07-08 Legislative Vote Record, WSJ Market Watch, posted to KBC 10/22/08. "Implements the Administration's agreement with the Karuk Tribe to settle the tribe's lawsuit against the Department of Fish and Game over damage to the endangered Coho salmon population in the tribe's ancestral rivers -- the Klamath, the Scott, and the Salmon -- from instream suction gold dredge mining. (Vetoed)"

Rahall Introduces Bill Upholding Federal Trust Relationship with Indian Country, Resources Committee 3/31/08

Judge rules Klamath school discrimination (ACLU) lawsuit to move forward, Eureka Reporter, posted 5/4/08.

Hoopa Valley Tribe files $80 million lawsuit, Eureka Reporter, posted to KBC 2/3/08

Letter from Karuk Tribal member James A. Waddell to Senator Dave Cox, 10/8/07. "... not even 10% of the Karuk Tribal members are involved in, or even informed of, Karuk Tribe Law Suits...There are Tribal members that have been threatened and faced threats to their families '…if they opened their mouths…' by these money-greedy enemies of working people calling themselves the Karuk Tribe of California...Most of us Karuk members had to leave our old homeland because political activists, pocket-money Karuk members of Political Influence, and the subsequent shut-down of the local sawmill, loggers and related businesses.  That caused a population drop of 72%!  " Here for more tribal letters

Letter to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger; please don't support AB1032, posted 9/10/07 by James Waddell, Karuk tribal member."AB1032 will not benefit streams, fish, or other riparian habitats.  It will allow government agencies to arbitrarily “Take” the private property rights, water rights, private economic usage rights and to take away the jobs of working citizens… all for no good reasons."

Klamath River Algae Law Suit and Klamath River Salmon History, posted 9/8/07, by Karuk Tribal member James Waddell  to North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board. "

9th Circuit, Feds may close land for Indian Worship, 9/4/07, Mt States Legal Foundation, "In May, a panel held that a Latin cross on federal lands in honor of American servicemen killed in World War I violated the Establishment Clause and must be removed...In September, another panel held that Arizona's designation of private property as sacred to American Indian religious practitioners and off-limits to use by its owner did not violate the Establishment Clause."

Dredge Miners granted intervention status in litigation between Karuks and DFG, Miners 2/12/06. See Miner Page

Here for Yurok lawsuit to "Usurp water rights of Klamath Basin Farmers." 1/18/05

Tribes seeking $1billion, H&N 5/11/04.

Shoshone group sues federal government, 1/24/04




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