Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Hoopa Tribe Sues Federal Government over Inadequate Protections for Juvenile Salmon

Below is the Hoopa Valley Tribe's Press Release announcing that they have formally notified agencies of the federal government of their intent to sue them to enforce provisions of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The notice is required to give federal agencies 60-days to remedy or settle potential ESA lawsuits. The Tribe says it will sue the US Bureau of Reclamation and the National Marine Fisheries Service over the failure of those agencies to protect ESA-listed Klamath Coho Salmon.

As a member of the environmental community, I find it embarrassing that the Hoopa Tribe had to file this notice alone. In the "old days" (before the Water Deals) the environmental community and the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Association (PCFFA) filed the lawsuits on behalf of Klamath Salmon. The tribes intervened and their biologists served as expert witnesses.  That saved the tribes and the environmental plaintiffs a lot of money. We all worked together for the River and Klamath Salmon. But ever since they signed on to the KBRA Water Deal, PCFFA has blocked Earthjustice lawyers from suing on behalf of Klamath Coho.

I know this is a true fact because I was instrumental in organizing the earlier Coho lawsuits and because I asked Earthjustice to challenge the 2008 Biological Opinion on my behalf as a Klamath River resident. Earthjustice declined and told me that was because the lead plaintiff on those earlier lawsuits, PCFFA, would not allow them to take on a challenge to federal management of Klamath River Coho salmon.

And what about the other Klamath River Basin Tribes? Would it not be right and proper for the leaders of tribes whose people depend on the Klamath River and Klamath Salmon to join the Hoopa Valley Tribe in challenging Coho management that is killing most of the juvenile Coho, and the juvenile Chinook as well, before they can reach the ocean? I'll bet my boots members of those tribes want their tribal governments to get more water for the River and the Coho.

KlamBlog encourages Yurok Chairman Tommy O'Rourke, Karuk Chairman Buster Attebery, and Klamath Tribes Chairman Don Gentry to lead their tribes to a decision. Please join with the Hoopa Valley Tribe in demanding that federal agencies obey the law and provide adequately for Klamath Salmon.

This blog offers all tribes of the Klamath River Basin the opportunity to use space here to explain their tribal positions to all the people of the Klamath River Basin. Open exchange will lead to understanding; understanding will result in unity; and unity will best serve the River we all love and want to restore.  

                                                                     Felice Pace, KlamBlog editor



Hoopa Valley Tribe

17 May 2016


Chairman Ryan Jackson (530.249.8653)

Mike Orcutt (707.499.6143)

Tom Schlosser (206.386.5200)

Hoopa Tribe Sues Federal Government over Inadequate Protections for Juvenile Salmon

The Hoopa Valley Tribe has filed a 60-day notice of intent to sue the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) and NOAA Fisheries for violating the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  Failure by these federal agencies to reinitiate consultation on the flawed 2013 Klamath Project Biological Opinion (BiOp) will simply add to the millions of sick and dead juvenile salmon already lost due to the Klamath Irrigation Project.  High infection prevalence of the deadly salmon parasite Ceratomyxa nova has been directly linked to the Project and its effect upon natural flows in the river.

“The juvenile fish kills in 2014 and 2015, while not as noticeable to the naked eye as dead adults on the banks, are as devastating to Hupa people as the 2002 adult fish kill” said Ryan Jackson, Chairman, Hoopa Valley Tribe.  

The BiOp limited the number of fish that could be harmed or killed by the Project.  This threshold was knowingly violated in 2014 and 2015, with nearly 100% infection rates of juvenile salmon in those years.  "Tribal and non-tribal fisheries will be substantially depressed as adult salmon which out-migrated in 2014 return in record low numbers this year and next" said Mike Orcutt, Hoopa Fisheries Director.  BOR and NMFS have refused to take appropriate actions to make sure this does not happen again and have clearly violated the ESA by not reinitiating consultation.  Continued catastrophic losses of salmon can be expected in the Klamath Basin given this inaction by the agencies.  “Despite numerous attempts to make this right with the agencies, their lack of action has required us to take legal action to protect our fishery and way of life" said Jackson.

The Hoopa Valley Tribe inhabits the largest reservation in California and is one of only two tribes in the state with federally reserved fishing rights, entitling the tribes to 50% of the allowable harvest of Klamath River fish.   "Since time immemorial, Klamath Basin has been the lifeblood of the Hupa people.  We will continue to stand up for the fish of the Klamath Basin” concluded Jackson.

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