Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Upheld Water Releases to the Trinity River to Prevent Salmon Die-Off

Press release:

Today, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld water releases to the Trinity River to prevent salmon die-off downstream. Since the horrific 2002 salmon kill on the Lower Klamath River, the Bureau of Reclamation has released supplemental water from the Trinity River Reservoir on numerous occasions to prevent similar fish kill.

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Reversing the Eastern District Court’s judgment, the appeals court ruled that federal and state laws authorized the Bureau of Reclamation release water from its reservoirs to protect migrating fish in the Lower Klamath River, downstream of the Trinity River confluence. The Bureau’s over diversion of water from the Klamath River in Oregon had killed as many as 70,000 adult salmon in 2002. Six times since then, the Bureau of Reclamation, at the request of the Hoopa Valley Tribe, has released extra water from the Trinity Project to augment flow in the Lower Klamath and avert repetition of the fish epizootic.

“Once again, the Court of Appeals has acted to uphold our property rights in the Klamath Trinity fishery. We are happy to see the Court of Appeals enforce federal reclamation laws and recognize the United States’ trust responsibility to our people,” said Hoopa Chairman Ryan Jackson.

As in the past, Westlands Water District, 400 miles distant from the Trinity River (see attached map), and the largest irrigation district in the United States, sued to block the Bureau of Reclamation’s actions to protect Klamath River Basin fish and wildlife. The Court reversed a lower court’s ruling that limited releases to the Trinity River in favor of increased diversions to the Central Valley. The Court made clear that the Trinity basin has priority in the use of Trinity water stored in Reclamation’s reservoir. The court also observed that the releases complied with a California Fish and Game Code requirement that dam owner must “allow sufficient water at all times to pass” a dam “to keep in good condition any fish that may be planted or exist below the dam,” independently authorized flow releases.

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10 comments

  • Great day for the Hoopa tribe, and the salmon fishery as a whole

  • Privatize these corrupt unionized government agencies . The govment can’t run nuttin efficiently and never has it been able to . just look at the post office the school system the veterans administration just to name a few . Let private contractors run these agencies

  • Honeydew Bridge Chump

    Mining the gravel from the river mouths would help.

  • On to the Supreme Court now?

    that would seem to be the obvious question to have been answered in this announcement.
    It ain’t over til it’s over, and the Westlands people have a lot invested and now think they have friends in high places and their thumb on the scale…so, my guess is probably.

    • Despite the trumpster, the supreme court will not hear this case. I don’t see anything new in the case law. It looks like a basic “no, you greedy bastard” case. Very similar to why trumpster isn’t taking his Muslim ban to them when this same court overturned that. The ninth circuit can read the law. Trumpster can’t read at all. The 14th amendment bans ethnic bans dude. Even a fourth grader can figure that out.

  • And I am sure that infrastructure has been maintained as well as Oroville.

  • Might make some good surfing sandbars at Pacific Ocean outlet too

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