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Forest Service's Ability to Protect Endangered Fish Upheld

On August 18, 2003, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in Earthjustice's favor by upholding the Forest Service's authority to restrict the transfer of irrigation water across national forestland. Earthjustice intervened to support a Forest Service decision that prevents irrigators whose ditches cross the Okanogan National Forest from taking too much water.

The removal of the water from the Methow River Basin was drying up rivers and streams that are crucial to the survival of endangered chinook salmon and steelhead trout. Existing healthy streams in the basin are already scarce because more than 1,100 miles of historically accessible rivers and streams are now blocked by Chief Joseph Dam.

On May 3, 2004, the US Supreme Court rejected a petition challenging the Ninth Circuit's decision, thus blocking all future avenues of appeal.