From the August 2001 Idaho Observer:
In the COURT OF PUBLIC OPINION
Farmer Americanus, Rancher Americanus, Property Owner Americanus, Miner Americanus, Logger Americanus, and 260 million John Does
ESA, EPA, NFMS, BLM, BR, DOE, USFS, NPS, NFWS, et al,
MOTION TO COMPEL A REAL EXPLANATION THAT WOULD JUSTIFY DRIVING 1,400 FARMERS/RANCHERS OUT OF BUSINESS; DESTROY A REGIONAL ECONOMY; DENY WATER TO MIGRATORY WATER FOWL AND INDIGENOUS SPECIES TO PROTECT ALLEGEDLY THREATENED SPECIES OF BOTTOM FEEDING SUCKERFISH
COMES NOW, the People of the United States of America, enjoined, in demand of an explanation, supported by hard science, that could explain why the federal government, through its agents, agencies and their self-aggrandizing interpretation of federal laws, would order that lay people, ranchers, farmers, other possibly threatened or endangered indigenous and/or migratory animal species, be denied access to the public element most critical to life: WATER.
Argument in favor of suckerfish protection
The federal government claims that, in the best interests of the American people, irrigation water contractually provided to some 1,400 Klamath Basin ranchers and farmers must be shut off. The water provides habitat for migratory water fowl and indigenous species. Some of those species may also be listed as threatened or endangered as per the Endangered Species Act. This is all being done to protect the habitat of two species of suckerfish that are suspected by the federal government to be endangered.
As indicated in the short article below, the federal government suspects that populations of these fish have been declining since the 1960s. The decision to stop the ordinary flow of irrigation water was made to see if, indeed, populations of suckerfish are declining.
Population Genetics of Klamath Basin Suckers.
Gregory J. Tranah and Bernie May
The Klamath River Basin in southern Oregon is home to four species of suckers: The shortnose sucker (Chasmistes brevirostris), the Lost River sucker (Deltistes luxatus), the Klamath Largescale sucker (Catostomus snyderi) and the Klamath smallscale sucker (Catostomus rimiculus). The shortnose and Lost River suckers were once among the most abundant lake-dwelling fish in this system. Large-scale degradation of the Klamath River ecosystem, though, caused these species to decline rapidly in the 1960's. The shortnose and Lost River suckers received little attention until they were listed as federally endangered in 1988. Public resources are now being used to understand the biology of these endangered species and their habitats in order to manage them for recovery. Unfortunately, individuals of several of the populations cannot absolutely be identified based on morphology. It is critical that we devise a method for absolutely identifying the four sucker taxa within the Klamath River Basin so that biological information coming in from other studies is correctly interpreted for the recovery of the two endangered species.
Previous genetic and morphological evidence suggests that recent or historical introgressive hybridization may have taken place within the four taxa (Miller and Smith 1981; Harris 1991; Harris and Markle 1993). These studies, though, have not been conclusive at resolving the reproductive isolation, classification, and systematic relationships of these four taxa. The overall goal of this project is to characterize the reproductively isolated populations of suckers within the Klamath River Basin and to quantify their relationships to each other based on molecular genetic markers. The availability of these diagnostic markers will permit field personnel to derive population specific morphological markers at various life history stages for field identification.
References are available on the website at:
Argument in opposition to suckerfish protection
There is evidence to suggest that suckerfish came to the region when the Bureau of Reclamation destroyed 75 percent of the Basin's 350,000 acres of naturally-occurring wetlands to create the irrigation district in 1906.
So, to save non-indigenous species of bottom feeding fish that may or may not be threatened, farms and ranches will dry up; families will be forced to sell their parched property for pennies and leave the area which will force the closure of local businesses; tax revenues will plummet so that local governments will not be able to function; the nation's food supply will be diminshed by approximately $250,000,000 in agricultural products; 430 species of animals that depend upon the irrigation water will either die or leave the area in search of water and; native plant species will die.
Those are the direct repercussions of the federal government shutting off the water to a community of people. The political arguments in opposition to this absurdity have national implications.
Water was guaranteed to the residents of the Klamath Basin forever by President Teddy Roosevelt in 1906. The feds' recent action is a serious breach of contract that must not be allowed to stand as all of the western states have regions that are dependent upon federally-created irrigation districts. If the feds are able to have such total control of Klamath Basin water that they can destroy the lives of thousands of people then there is no reason to believe that they will not systematically shut off the water to all of irrigation districts in the west they presume to own rather than operate in the interest of the public.
There was no warning. The feds shut the water off and within 90 days the region dried up.
Perhaps the most important argument in opposition to suckerfish protection is that people who have poured their hearts and souls into their land are being forced to defend their property against agents of their own government. It is not likely they will choose to pick up their lives and move away.
It would appear the federal government has symbolically chosen the suckerfish to see if the American people will acquiesce to federal land use policies or stand in defense of their property.
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