Special screens designed to protect endangered sucker fish

The Associated Press
Thursday April 18, 2002

KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. — The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation has finished design of special screens to keep endangered fish out of the Klamath Reclamation Project’s primary canal intake and hopes to have the devices installed by next spring. 

The $15 million project is designed to prevent the deaths of endangered shortnosed suckers and Lost River suckers, and reduce the need to ever again shut off irrigation water to 1,400 farmers served by the irrigation system straddling the Oregon-California border. 

Studies have shown millions of juvenile and larval suckers each year can be drawn out of Upper Klamath Lake into the irrigation system’s A Canal, where they die when the canals go dry in the winter. 

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has identified the problem as a major factor in the decline of sucker populations, and has been calling on the bureau since 1992 to install screens on various water intakes. Last month a special task force appointed by President Bush to resolve the Klamath Basin’s water woes included the screens in a list of projects. 

To install the screens, the bureau will replace the 95-year-old headgates controlling flows into the A Canal, which were the scene of tense confrontations last summer between protesters and federal police over irrigation deliveries being shut off to protect fish. 

Work will be done between October and April to prevent interruptions in irrigation, said Dan Fritz of the bureau.