Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
Upholding rural Americans' rights to grow food,
own property, and caretake our wildlife and natural resources.
By DYLAN DARLING
federal claims court ruled Monday that a commercial
fishing group can join the legal fracas involving
$100 million in damage claims by Klamath Reclamation
Project irrigators against the government stemming
from the summer of 2001.
The ruling by U.S.
Court of Federal Claims Judge Francis Allegra in
Washington, D.C., granted the Pacific Coast
Federation of Fishermen's Associations "full party"
status as an affected economic interest in the
Judge Allegra wrote,
"In the court's view, the PCFFA possesses a legally
protectable interest involving the water of the
Klamath Basin that is 'related to the property or
transaction' at issue, one that lies in maintaining
access to that water and ensuring that it is
allocated in a fashion that promotes its fishing
Now the question is
whether the case will go on. A hearing to determine
whether the water users have property rights for
irrigation water is set to start March 30, said
Roger Marzulla, attorney for the Klamath Irrigation
District and other plaintiffs.
The complaint brought
by the water users was amended in January, changing
the damages sought from $1 billion to $100 million,
Originally the claims
represented the cost of farmers losing their farms
for good, he said. Now the claim is for the cost of
the one year's water lost.
"A judgment for (the
irrigators) in this case is not going to impact in
any way the water that will be used for the fish
that the fishermen catch, particularly since the
case only deals with the year 2001," he said.
Marzulla said his major
concern was that the ruling could complicate an
already complex case by making the fishermen, in
effect, a full participant.
"The court acknowledged
that there are other downstream interests affected
as well," he said.
Allegra wrote that he
didn't allow the other groups to intervene because
the Fishermen's Association will represent their
interests and has the same lawyers as the group.
Page Updated: Thursday May 07, 2009 09:15 AM Pacific
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