Conservation Groups File 60-Day Notice of ESA Challenge on Klamath Salmon

For Immediate Release

WaterWatch of Oregon * Oregon Wild * Hoopa Valley Tribe

Jim McCarthy, WaterWatch, 541-941-9450
Steve Pedery, Oregon Wild, 503-283-6343 x212
Regina Chichizola, Hoopa Valley Tribe, 541-951-0126

Conservation Groups File 60-Day Notice of ESA Challenge on Klamath Salmon
Coalition says Bureau of Reclamation continues to endanger Klamath River fish, wildlife
by implementing water management plans ahead of environmental review

View the 60-day notice and other background materials here.

Klamath Falls, OR – Concerned about the increasing likelihood of a repeat of the tragic 2002 Klamath River fish kill, conservation organizations today submitted a notice of violation to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, citing its mismanagement of water in the Klamath Basin. The Bureau has begun implementing a water management regime that cuts water to threatened coho salmon in the Klamath River, and to fish and wildlife elsewhere in the Klamath Basin, before the completion of a legally-required scientific and environmental review.

“We are simply asking for the Bureau of Reclamation to follow science and the law and provide the water that salmon and other wildlife need to survive,” said Steve Pedery, Conservation Director for Oregon Wild. “The Bureau is repeating the same mistakes that ultimately led to the 2002 Klamath River fish kill and the Klamath-driven salmon fishery disaster of 2006, and we are putting the agency on notice that a repeat of those tragedies is simply not acceptable.”

“The progress made rebuilding these valuable salmon runs will be lost if the federal government once again turns its back on salmon-dependent communities in order to favor agribusiness,” said Jim McCarthy, Southern Oregon Program Manager at WaterWatch of Oregon. “The Bureau of Reclamation needs to stop putting Klamath salmon runs at risk. It’s long past time to get serious about permanently reducing water diversions to help supply the water that salmon and other wildlife need to survive.”

The Hoopa Valley Tribe responded to news of the filing with a statement saying, “In 2002, members of the Hoopa Valley Tribe watched in horror as thousands of salmon washed up dead on the shores of the Klamath River. The Bureau needs to stop playing games with the river, honor their obligations under the law and the federal reserved rights of the Hoopa Tribe, and provide water for salmon.”

“The law is clear,” said John DeVoe, WaterWatch Executive Director. “The Bureau is required to ensure, by consulting first with the wildlife experts, that the revised Klamath Irrigation Project operations don’t jeopardize wildlife that is already on the brink. This must occur before the Bureau starts implementing those revisions and taking steps that are difficult to reverse. We can’t put water back in the system once it’s gone and we will continue to be the watchdog on these issues as long as the Bureau continues to ignore the law.”

The conservationists filed a 60-day notice as required by the Endangered Species Act, signaling their intent to challenge the Bureau of Reclamation’s decision to implement its plan to reduce water flows without first completing consultation with the wildlife agencies tasked with protecting threatened and endangered fish in the Klamath Basin.