The National Cattlemen's Beef Association said ranchers and farmers in the Klamath River area scored a major judicial victory Friday when a federal district court judge dismissed a lawsuit brought by the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations and the Yurok Tribe.

The NCBA said the case challenged the Bureau of Reclamation's management of water in the Klamath River. The plaintiffs claimed the government's management of the Klamath Project violated their fishing rights in 2002 and resulted in a die-off of salmon on the lower Klamath River.

Oakland, Calif., Judge Saundra Armstrong agreed with motions put forth by the Klamath Water Users Association and the federal government that there was no evidence linking the bureau's management of water with the die-off, the NCBA said.

The Klamath Project delivers irrigation water to 220,000 acres of farm land in Oregon, Washington and southern California.

A 2003 National Academy of Sciences report "Endangered and Threatened Fishes in the Klamath River Basin: Causes of Decline and Strategies for Recovery," found no substantial scientific support linking irrigation in the Klamath basin to the welfare of endangered fish, the NCBA said. The scientific panel suggested factors other than water and flow levels could be to blame. These include water temperature, oxygen levels, algae population, the number and size of dams along the waterway and development in the area.

Source: Association Release