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Adjusting the ESA

Review period opens for Basin suckers

by LEE JUILLERAT, Herald and News 6/16/11

Federal officials are reviewing the endangered species listing of Lost River and shortnose suckers, whose protected status requires maintaining specific water levels in Upper Klamath Lake.

In years when water is scarce, that protection negatively impacts water availability for Basin irrigators.

Laurie Sada, Klamath Falls field supervisor for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said Endangered Species Act reviews are required every five years. The public is invited to submit new information produced since 2007.

“We get a lot of comments, but rarely do we get any information that would change the status of the species,” Sada said, noting the goal is to get new sciencebased data. The comment period runs until July 25.

The Klamath Off-Project Water Users opposes the endangered listing of the Lost River and shortnose suckers, said Tom Mallams, president of the group.

He claimed that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service does not have the information it needs, including historic numbers of suckers, current numbers and projected numbers, that could delist the fish.

“ They have studied these fish for decades and spent hundreds of thousands of dollars but we still don’t have even basic information,” he said.

The shortnose sucker, listed as an endangered species in 1988, is among 53 federally listed species being reviewed in a district that includes the Klamath Basin and areas of California and Nevada.

Other species

The other Klamath Basin species on the list include the endangered Applegate’s milk-vetch, the Northern spotted owl and bull trout, both listed as threatened; and the Oregon spotted frog and fisher, both listed as candidate species.

None were scheduled for this cycle of the fiveyear review.

Coho salmon, which are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, were not included on the list because they are under the jurisdiction of the National Marine Fisheries Service, which oversees ocean fish, including those that swim upstream. Sada said the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service only has jurisdiction over freshwater fish.

Under the review process, new information about the endangered suckers will be accepted until July 25. The Klamath Falls field office of Fish and Wildlife will review the data and make recommendations. If changes are recommended, public hearings will be scheduled.

Five-year reviews are done “to ensure the listing classification of a species as threatened or endangered is accurate,” Sada said.

The sucker review will consider scientific and other information available since the 2007 review.



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