Judge orders Bush admin to shift water to Klamath River salmon

Endangered Klamath River coho salmon — what’s left of them anyway — scored a victory yesterday, as a federal judge ordered the Bureau of Reclamation to increase river flows in drought years and the National Marine Fisheries Service to develop a biological study that would lead to a more equitable split of water between fish and farmers. During low flows in the spring of 2002, thousands of juvenile salmon died in the Klamath, which runs from southern Oregon to northern California, and later that year about 70,000 adults migrating upriver to spawn died of a disease that California wildlife officials blame on low flows. Klamath coho are now on the brink of extinction, and chinook numbers in the river are so low that this year’s commercial catch may be banned. Fish advocates hope the new ruling will end years of struggle over Klamath water. “We don’t want to lurch from crisis to crisis,” says Earthjustice lawyer Kristen Boyles. “We need to figure how to manage this scarce resource.”