Klamath Riverkeeper (KRK) announced in a press release today that it has filed its lawsuit against the Montague Water Conservation District (MWCD) over its operation of Dwinell Dam on the Shasta River. The release also states that the Karuk Tribe will be joining the lawsuit.
“The legal filing by KRK follows a 60-day notice period during which KRK offered MWCD an opportunity to negotiate a settlement outside the courtroom,” the release states. “The action effectively calls on the irrigation district to remedy its impacts to salmon runs verging on extinction there.”
KRK Executive Director Erica Terence told the Daily News that there had been some communications between her group and the MWCD during the 60-day notice period, but “no concrete solutions have emerged.”
Terence said KRK is still interested in seeking a settlement if possible, but she noted that the original filing clearly stated that the lawsuit would go forward after 60 days even if negotiation were ongoing.
“We just can’t afford to wait,” Terence said. “Shasta River coho are nearly extinct. There’s no time left.”
Craig Tucker, Klamath coordinator for the Karuk Tribe, said they are joining the lawsuit for several reasons.
“The tribe bases their restoration strategy on science,” Tucker said. “We’ve just completed several studies on the Shasta River and they make it very clear that Dwinell Dam is the biggest limiting factor to Shasta River coho populations.”
Tucker said the tribe does not currently fish for coho salmon, but they hope the fish will someday be removed from the Endangered Species List so they can.
“We are working for the restoration of all anadromous species in the Klamath system. We want to get them off the ESA and into the tribe’s smokehouses,” Tucker said.
Both KRK and the Karuk Tribe say that they understand and appreciate the importance of agriculture to the Siskiyou County economy, but believe there needs to be a better balance of water use for both agriculture and fish-dependant communities.
The Karuk Tribe will file a 60-day intent-to-file-suit on Friday. After that 60-day period they will officially be co-litigants in the case.
Look for further coverage of this issue in an upcoming edition of the Daily News.
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