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Yurok Tribe v. U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

ELR Citation: 50 ELR 20133
Nos. 19-cv-04405-WHO, (N.D. Cal., 05/29/2020) (Orrick, J.)

A district court denied a Native American tribe's request to lift a stay in a lawsuit against the Bureau of Reclamation seeking to protect endangered coho salmon from the impacts of an irrigation project in the Klamath River Basin. The tribe asserted that the Bureau failed to comply with the terms of the parties' agreement to stay the suit—that the Bureau operate the project in accordance with an agreed-upon interim operations plan—by deviating from the plan to reduce water flow in response to dry conditions, and thus moved to lift the stay. The court found the Bureau was reasonable in its deviation from the plan given the dry conditions and in its conservative response to future water condition forecasts given the need to protect other endangered species like endangered suckers in the river. It therefore denied the tribe's request to lift the stay.