Hoopa Valley Tribe Urges Protection of Threatened Coho Salmon

Hoopa Valley Tribal officials seek protection of Coho salmon in federal district court.

Published April 12, 2018

SAN FRANCISCO – The Hoopa Valley Tribe urged continued protection of threatened Coho salmon runs of the Klamath River on Wednesday in Federal District Court in San Francisco.  In 2016, the Tribe sued the Bureau of Reclamation (which operates the Klamath Irrigation District located in central Oregon and Northern California), and the National Marine Fisheries Service, because those federal agencies have failed to protect threatened Coho salmon in the Klamath River. A federal Biological Opinion issued in 2013 required protective actions that were simply ignored.  Federal Judge William Orrick granted the Tribe’s request in 2017 and issued an injunction ordering the Reclamation Bureau to leave more water in the River to protect fish while the Biological Opinion is strengthened.

The federal agencies and Klamath Basin irrigation groupsfiled appeals.  But neither the Klamath Irrigation parties nor the federal agencies have pursued their appeals.  Instead, in 2018 the Klamath Basin Irrigators asked the District Court to amend its 2017 injunction to eliminate the additional water that is required for fish health, according to scientists.  The federal agencies agreed partially with the Irrigators, due to dry conditions, but as hydrological conditions improved, they amended their court filing to concede that they have the needed water for fish if the irrigation is delayed by several weeks.  Judge Orrick criticized the federal attorneys’ reluctance to comply with his order. The Court has taken the requests under consideration and will rule soon.

“The Hoopa Valley Tribe will take all necessary steps to protect these fish, the lifeblood of our Tribe,” Chairman Ryan Jackson said. “Last year, our people got less than one fish per member,” said Fisheries Director Mike Orcutt. “Our in stream flow water rights are the most senior rights in the River system and they must be respected,” he said.

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