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Suit Filed over Klamath Basin Salmon Endangered Species Listing

by Associated Press
Capital Press - January 18(?), 2002

Suit aims to overturn NMFS listing of Southern Oregon-Northern California Coho

SACRAMENTO (AP) -- A group that won a victory against the listing of salmon as a threatened species in Oregon said Jan 10 it will file a similar suit in the farmers-vs.-fish dispute in the Klamath River basin.

The suit aims to overturn the National Marine Fisheries Service threatened species listing of the Southern Oregon-Northern California coho salmon. That helped prompt the federal government's decision to shut down water deliveries to the area's farmers last spring.

Attorney Russell Brooks of the Bellevue, Wash. -based Pacific Legal Foundation accused NMFS in a statement of "using junk science to advance a political agenda. Our rivers and streams are teeming with salmon, yet farmers have been pushed into bankruptcy, businesses are closing, and a way of life is being destroyed while government officials explain away listing fish that really aren't endangered at all."

The dispute revolves around the interrelationship between wild and hatchery-raised salmon.

U.S. District Judge Michael Hogan ruled in September in Eugene, Ore., that the fisheries service erred when it included both wild and hatchery fish in the group known as an evolutionarily significant unit, then granted threatened species protection only to wild fish.

The Bush administration said it would review the status of 23 of the 25 groups of Pacific salmon and steelhead protected under the Endangered Species Act instead of appealing. But environmental groups appealed to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, where the case remains.

"I don't think their ploy in this instance has a chance of success," said Paul Mason of the Environmental Protection Information Center in Garberville.

He accused the public interest law firm of using "large amount of hatchery salmon to prop up the perception that there are plenty of fish" -- thought the suit accuses the fisheries service of doing mush the same thing to different ends.

"Unfortunately, it's very clear we have 1 percent of the historical level of coho that are returning to North Coast rivers and streams," said Warren Alford of the Sierra Club.

Reversing the threatened species listing would open protected arease to logging, Alford said, as it did the three months Oregon coastal coho were off the threatened species list.

Associated Press
Suit Filed over Klamath Basin Salmon Endangered Species Listing
Capital Press - January 18(?), 2002

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