Magistrate: Agency too slow with Klamath refuges plan

Mar 6, 2015 4:08 PM by News Staff

MEDFORD, Ore. (AP) - A federal magistrate has found the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service needs to speed up work on overdue plans for managing wildlife refuges in the Klamath Basin.

Conservation groups that filed the lawsuit said Friday they hope the magistrate's recommendation, which still needs to be affirmed by a judge, leads to more of the basin's scarce water going to wildlife, instead of potato and onion farms on the Lower Klamath and Tule Lake refuges straddling the Oregon-California border.

The farmers maintain their water right predates the refuges' by 20 years, and a federal law allows farms on the two refuges.

The comprehensive plan was due in 2012. The service says it can finish by October 2017, but U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael Clarke wants it by August 2016.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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