NPR: Klamath Tribes assert rights in long-running water war

NPR reports on water war involving the Klamath Tribes of Oregon:
For 38 years, groups in the Klamath Basin have contested who holds the senior water rights on tributaries like the Sycan River. The state finally reached a decision this year. The date of the tribe's right? Time immemorial.

Every spring, the Klamath Tribes hold a ceremony to celebrate the return of the suckerfish. The now endangered suckerfish were once the staple food of this tribe.

They look a little like miniature sharks with a vacuum cleaner for a mouth. Don Gentry, chairman of the Klamath Tribes, says the tribes have not been able to fish for suckerfish for the past 27 years.

"The condition of our fish is just so dire," he says. "They're on the brink of extinction. And I believe that those fish are an indicator of the health of the watershed."

The tribes are in negotiations with ranchers to come up with a better plan to share water in dry years. Gentry says even though it's an uncomfortable situation, the Klamath Tribes have a responsibility to ensure that suckerfish — and the river ecosystem itself — survive.

Get the Story:
Water Wars: Who Controls The Flow? (NPR 6/15)

Also Today:
Watermasters meet with those affected (The Klamath Falls Herald and News 6/16)

Related Stories
Klamath Tribes issue first call for treaty-based water rights (6/11)
Donald Gentry: Klamath Tribes work to settle water disputes (05/06)
Klamath Tribes score big ruling in long fight over water rights (03/08)

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