In keeping with her pattern of deferring to the positions of elected officials in the West, U.S. Interior Secretary Gale Norton has recommended that the U.S. Justice Department not appeal a ruling by the Idaho Supreme Court that denies water rights for a federal wildlife refuge on the Snake River. In the past, the U.S. has almost always defended its water rights to protect wildlife on federal land. The assistant manager of the refuge said the loss of water could jeopardize scores of bird species. Don Barry, a former assistant Interior secretary who now works for the Wilderness Society, said the case could set a bad precedent: “Other states will look at this and say, ‘Idaho got away with it, so can we.'”
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