A new federal report suggests that endangered species, and farming may be able to co-exist in the Klamath Basin...
It's the first time a biological opinion has focused on the impacts of farming on endangered species above, and below the Klamath Project.
"In the past, what we've had was two separate biological opinions." Explains Pete Lucero of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. "We had one for the endangered suckers in the Klamath Lake, and we had one for the salmon on the Klamath River."
Lucero notes those two studies have often been in conflict, leaving farmers high and dry...
"We now can calculate how much water we might need at any certain and given time for either the Upper Klamath Lake for habitat protection, downstream use for the salmon, or the irrigators."
Some groups that have been at odds with farmers in the past say the opinion is a step in the right direction.
One of those is Glen Spain of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations...
"There's still a lot of detail in here that we'll have to look into, and we may quibble over - but overall, it's a really strong effort."
The 607 page biological opinion will be used to help calculate water allocations for the next ten years.
Lucero cautions that while the biological opinion may provide some more certainty for farmers on the Klamath Project, it doesn't provide any guarantees...
"No. We don't have any guarantees about the water. But what we do have is we have an idea of where we'll be, relative to the water that we do have."
The release of the biological opinion clears the way for the release of an operations plan for the Klamath Project later this week.
The biological opinion was prepared jointly by the National Marine Fisheries Service, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Here's a link to that biological opinion: http://www.usbr.gov/mp/kbao/docs/Klamath_Project_Biological_Opinion.pdf