By TIM HEARDEN
YREKA, Calif. - The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has issued its final revised recovery plan for Lost River and shortnose suckers in the Klamath Basin.
The plan outlines steps to reduce die-offs of the fish species by restoring habitat, increasing connectivity between spawning and rearing habitats and improving water quality, agency officials say.
The plan will not lead to cutbacks of allocations to area water users, said Matt Baun, an agency spokesman here.
"It's more of a guidance document as opposed to a regulatory tool," Baun said. "This identifies a blueprint on how to best achieve recovery over several decades."
The recovery plan identifies nearly a dozen criteria that need to occur for the species to be moved from endangered to threatened status or de-listed altogether. For de-listing, populations of the species within Upper Klamath Lake must experience sufficient growth and stability over a 25-year period, which equates to about two average adult life spans for Lost River suckers and three for shortnose suckers.
The plan comes after Fish and Wildlife issued a final rule in December designating critical habitat for the two fish species. It included about 282 miles of streams and 241,438 acres of lakes and reservoirs in Oregon's Klamath and Lake counties and California's Modoc County.
In February, the agency took comments on PacifiCorp's plan to discontinue routine operations at two hydroelectric facilities at its Link River Dam and fund restoration projects and other activities to benefit the imperiled suckers.
The Link River Dam is separate from the four PacifiCorp dams on the Klamath River slated for removal under the Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement.
Fish and Wildlife asserts that if recovery efforts are successful, the two sucker species could recover in five to seven generations, or roughly 30 to 50 years. The agency estimates that recovery efforts could cost as much as $135 million.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Klamath Falls office: http://www.fws.gov/KlamathFallsFWO/