Klamath Coho Focus of Lawsuitby Associated Press
Capital Press - February 8, 2002
PORTLAND(AP) -- Fresh from a legal victory to remove Oregon coastal coho salmon from the endangered species list, a public interest law firm filed a lawsuit Feb. 5 to remove the same protection for Klamath Basin coho salmon.
The Pacific Legal Foundation filed the Endangered Species Act lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Eugene and asked that Judge Michael Hogan, who ruled in favor of the foundation in the coastal coho case, review the suit.
Coho salmon and sucker fish were at the center of last year's water dispute that pitted Klamath Basin farmers against environmentalists and the Klamath Indian tribe. Federal officials cut irrigation water to the Klamath Project to preserve water for the endangered fish.
The coho listing "was a major factor in shutting off water for farmers last year," said attorney Russell Brooks. "By this lawsuit, we're simply seeking to end the nonsense and restore common sense" to water management in the basin, he said.
The PLF won a significant legal victory in September when Judge Hoan ruled that the National Marine Fisheries Sevice had erred when it included both wild and hatchery coastal coho salmon in the group known as a evolutionary significant unit and then granted threatened species protection only to wild fish.
Environmentalists in December won a stay from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. It restores the threatened species status pending an appeal expected within two years.
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