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USFWS deny petition to delist Klamath suckers

Mitch Lies Capital Press 6/26/09

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced Friday, June 26, it has denied a petition to delist two fish species native to the Klamath Basin.

The service determined in its "90-day finding" that the endangered Lost River and shortnose suckers "were still experiencing limited recruitment and adult survival rates."

The determination appears to go against the service's finding in 2007 that the Lost River sucker be reclassified as threatened. That finding came after a five-year review.

Biologists also in that review found the shortnose sucker should remain classified as endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act.

In making its latest determination, the service said it reviewed findings from the five-year review and considered new information used in preparing the 2008 biological opinion for the Bureau of Reclamation's operations plan for the Klamath Project.

In that opinion, the service concluded that "habitat conditions in the Upper Klamath Lake had improved as a result of restoration efforts in the Upper Klamath Lake Watershed, especially at the mouth of the Williamson River." However, the service concluded June 26, a delisting was not warranted.

James Buchal, a Portland attorney who filed the petition for Klamath Basin farmers, said he was shocked by the decision.

"It's astounding that their apparent mandate to maintain a stranglehold on the basin has overpowered the recommendation of their own biologists," Buchal said. "Choking the economic life out of the Klamath Basin seems to be their goal."

Buchal said his clients' next step would be to sue the service over the "manifestly erroneous determination."

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed the Lost River and shortnosed sucker as endangered in 1988.

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