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Sucker revision under way

Agency says progress made in two fish species’ recovery
By Ty Beaver, Herald and News 6/18/08

   Federal wildlife officials are revising recovery efforts for the endangered Lost River and shortnose suckers.
   The revision, which is expected to take about a year, will bring the fish closer to being taken off the endangered species list.
   Mark Buettner, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service fisheries program manager, told the Klamath County Board of Commissioners that progress is being made in recovering the two fish species.
   A variety of methods, including an appointed group of stakeholders, meetings and consultation from Desert Research Institute researchers will guide the revisions, he said.
   Local input
   Commissioners said they were glad that progress is being made, but wanted to make sure that irrigators have an opportunity for input.
   “ There’s a certain level of frustration because we’ve lived through this, and we hope the science is good science,” said Commissioner Al Switzer.
   The suckers were at the center of the 2001 water crisis in the Klamath Reclamation Project. Declining populations led federal scientists to shut down irrigation in the Project in an effort to preserve them.
   Buettner said there have been advancements in monitoring and data collection since the water crisis, and his agency is pleased with the progress made so far.
   A fisheries biologist from the Klamath Tribes, the Nature Conservancy and individuals from Oregon State University and the U.S. Geological Survey will participate as stakeholders. Community comment also will be sought.
   Commissioner Bill Brown was concerned to not see a representative from the irrigation community in the stakeholder group and asked if that could be changed. Buettner said the group was established by regional director Steve Thompson, and its membership could be modified.
   Buettner added that he was scheduled to meet with Klamath Water Users Association to hear its thoughts on the process. The stakeholders also represent a portion of the process and will not fully decide revisions to recovery efforts.
   “The recovery plan is not a regulatory document, but a voluntary recovery roadmap,” he said.
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