Issuance of Draft 60-Day Notice to Protect C’waam and Koptu

File photo - C'waam Ceremony (Klamath Tribes)

File photo - C'waam Ceremony (Klamath Tribes)

Klamath Tribes.jpg

Chiloquin, OR- On Friday, February 9, 2018, attorneys for the Klamath Tribes sent a letter to representatives of three federal agencies requesting that Upper Klamath Lake be managed at higher levels throughout the upcoming irrigation season to protect the endangered C’waam and Koptu (Lost River and Shortnose suckers, respectively).

The Tribes’ letter – a 60-day notice required under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) in order to file a lawsuit to protect listed species such as the C’waam and Koptu – requested that the Bureau of Reclamation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and National Marine Fisheries Service take “immediate, emergency measures” to provide sufficient water for the tribal fisheries and correct other deficiencies of the 2013 Biological Opinion. The Tribes see 2018 as a potential tipping point, believing that the Biological Opinion is inadequate to preclude the possibility of an extinction level event for the C’waam, the Koptu, or both this water year.

The C’waam and Koptu fisheries sustained the Tribes’ people for millennia. In addition to providing for the Tribes’ subsistence, treaty resources are central to the Tribes’ ability to maintain and exercise their cultural and spiritual practices, which in turn are critical to the physical and social health of tribal families and community. Without these treaty resources, the Tribes do not have the ability to live as Klamath People in the way their Creator intended. The Klamath Tribes have a responsibility to restore and steward the C’waam and Koptu, and other tribal treaty resources, for their current members and future generations.

According to Klamath Tribal Chairman Don Gentry, “It is regrettable that we have to consider taking such a serious action as litigation at this time. We simply have little choice given the serious declining population status of the C’waam and Koptu in Klamath Lake. Our fisheries staff have shared with us that extinction is imminent given their currently declining population trends, and could occur in any given year due to poor lake conditions. The recent and frequent dry water years, such as that expected to occur again this year, raises our concerns significantly. Because of the dire situation our fisheries are facing, our position is that the Bureau of Reclamation, US Fish and Wildlife and other federal agencies are responsible to use every means possible to protect them from extinction – including strategic lake level management based on currently available science. If our fish disappear, they will be gone forever.”

While the Tribes invite the federal agencies’ cooperation in resolving the problems identified in the letter without litigation, the Klamath Tribes made their intent to sue the agencies clear if significant progress to protect the tribal fisheries is not made within the next 60 days.

Press release from the Klamath Tribes.

Conclusion - ESA 60 Day Notice

**The following quote was copied from the Conclusion of the ESA 60 Day Notice from the Klamath Tribes.

This letter provides notice of, and the bases for, the Klamath Tribes’ intent to file a lawsuit to protect these Endangered species. Over the next 60 days, the Klamath Tribes will continue to invite the Agencies’ cooperation in resolving the violations identified in this letter and finding effective remedies to ensure the continued survival of C’waam and Koptu, as well as the Oregon spotted frog, and the protection of their critical habitat. But in the absence of a swift and acceptable resolution of these issues, upon the expiration of the Act’s 60-day notice period, the Klamath Tribes intend to file a citizens’ suit for the declaratory and injunctive relief against the Agencies to remedy the violations described in this letter and any and all similar violations.
— ~Douglas C. MacCourt, Rosette, LLP