By SCOTT SONNER

Associated Press

RENO, Nev. (AP) -- A federal appeals court has upheld most of a ruling ordering a rural Nevada irrigation district to pay back billions of gallons of water it stole from a tribe downstream during the 1970s and '80s.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals also directed a federal judge in Reno to go back and determine whether the Pyramid Lake Paiutes are entitled to even more of the water the Truckee-Carson Irrigation District diverted for its own farmers and ranchers in northern Nevada's high desert.

The appellate court in San Francisco rejected most of the district's bid to overturn a 2003 decision that determined the water should have continued down the Truckee River to help bolster a traditional tribal fishery in serious decline.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.

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