Klamath Adjudication -- Adair Decision Reversed

(Note from BH: Some good news for our side, finally!)

July 21, 2003

The Ninth Circuit today reversed Judge Panner's decision in the 2001 Adair case on the grounds that it was not ripe for decision. In that decision, he entered a declaratory judgment, finding that the Klamath Tribes had an aboriginal right to gather plants, and he set forth a two-step method for how the State of Oregon should determine whether such rights had been established. The Ninth Circuit vacated the 2001 decision and remanded the case to the Oregon District Court with an instruction to enter an order staying all federal proceedings pending completion of the Oregon adjudication and all related appellate review.

This is a significant decision for everyone involved in the adjudication, because it calls back into question the scope and credibility of the Tribes' claim to water in the basin. At a minimum, the decision could significantly change the manner in which the Tribes' adjudication claims are evaluated and resolved. However, the reverberations could be much greater, potentially shifting the current balance of power in basin affairs.