OR ranchers battle state over groundwater rights

A judge ruled in favor of a group of ranchers in Oregon’s Klamath Basin after the state shut off private wells to control river streamflow, without giving due process to prove wells were using river water. Short Creek flows through pasturelands in Oregon’s Klamath Basin.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit has denied irrigators in the Klamath Basin the right to challenge federal agency decisions in court.

In a Sept. 8 decision, the panel of judges reaffirmed the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon’s dismissal, which recognized that declaring the Bureau of Reclamation’s (BOR) operating procedures unlawful would put water levels in the Upper Klamath Lake, the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and the Hoopa and Klamath Tribes’ water and fishing rights at risk. The panel also affirmed the district court’s conclusion the Tribes “were required parties who could not be joined due to sovereign immunity.” 

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