Tribes agree with court's ruling
Tribes are in agreement with the outcome of the ‘Takings’
case – a federal case involving water allocation in the
Klamath Project in 2001 – and see it ultimately as a victory
for their senior in-stream water rights.
The case –
Baley vs. United States – was ruled in 2017 by Judge Marion
Horn as being in favor of senior water rights held by the
tribes. An appeal of that ruling by farmers and ranchers
with a stake in the case was denied last week by the U.S.
Court of Appeals, affirming tribal rights to the water.
affiliated with the Native American Rights Fund (NARF) and
legal counsel for Klamath Tribes, said that Klamath Project
irrigators, who are junior water users to the tribes, “were
not entitled to receive any Project water in 2001.”
Tribes have been recognized by the state of Oregon as the
most senior water right-holders since spring 2013.
hinged on recognition of the senior tribal water rights of
the Klamath Tribes and other downriver Klamath Basin
tribes,” Noe said, in a release.
represented the Klamath, Hoopa Valley and Yurok Tribes, as
well as the the United States and environmental groups,
submitted amicus briefs in the case, which H&N attended in
Washington, D.C., in January and February 2017.
Don Gentry also shared his excitement about the ruling in
“We are pleased
that the court affirmed the lower court decision and once
again recognized the seniority of the Klamath Tribes’ water
rights,” Gentry said in a news release. “Most importantly,
this decision again recognizes the significance of our
treaty rights, which include protecting the endangered C’wam
and Koptu (Lost River and shortnose sucker) and our other
treaty resources in (Upper) Klamath Lake.”
the ruling was not a surprise to the tribes.
continue to rule in favor of the Klamath Tribes water rights
because it is the only interpretation that makes sense,” Noe
said in a news release. “The Tribes have lived in the
Klamath Basin for millenia. In an 1864 (federal) treaty they
relinquished millions of acres of their homeland to the
United States in exchange for guarantees, including
protections for the tribal right to harvest fish from in
their streams and lakes. There is no expiration date on
those treaty promises, and they cement the Tribes top water
rights in the region.”
NARF is a
non-profit that focuses on applying existing laws and
treaties to ensure that governments fulfill their
obligations. The organization has provided assistant to
tribes, organizations, and individuals without access to
representation since 1970.
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