The Yurok Tribe and the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Association filed a lawsuit July 31 against the Bureau of Reclamation and the National Marine Fisheries Service over the federal agency’s management plan for the Klamath River.

Last Friday, said tribal officials in a press release, the Bureau of Reclamation announced plans to scrap its 2019 water plan and start over.

Implementation of the water plan, which began April 1, 2019, resulted in drought-level flows on the Klamath River even as Upper Klamath Lake, which provides water to the river, was flooding, said tribal members.

They said poor flow conditions contributed to an outbreak of a fatal fish disease in the Klamath River near Iron Gate Dam during the first weeks of the 2019 plan.

The Yurok Tribe and its partners, the Pacific Coast Federation of Fisherman’s Associations and the Institute for Fisheries Resources, brought a lawsuit challenging that plan.

In addition to last spring’s inadequate river flows, said a spokesperson, the Yurok Tribe cited numerous other problems with the plan, including a lack of critical review of the hydrologic and biological analyses it was based on.

The tribe conducted a detailed review of various elements of the plan, including how salmon habitat was affected by the flow reductions. Tribal members said that review revealed serious and systematic errors in the Bureau of Reclamation’s analysis of fish habitat, which, they said, led to the Department of Interior’s decision to scrap the 2019 plan and reanalyze the effects.

The tribe’s press release said the Bureau of Reclamation intends to develop a new water plan by April 1.


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