Tulare Lake Basin Water Storage District v. United States, ___F.3d___, Case No. 98-101 (Fed. Cl. April 30, 2001).
The opinion's oft-cited conclusion is blunt and straightforward: "The federal government is certainly free to preserve the fish; it must simply pay for the water it takes to do so." Id. at 324.
On April 30, 2001, the United States Court of Federal Claims ruled on cross-motions for summary judgment between Plaintiffs, Tulare Lake Basin Water Storage District et al., and Defendants, United States.
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Services' Restrictions on Water Outflows to Protect the Delta Smelt and Chinook Salmon under the ESA Constitutes a Fifth Amendment "Taking".
Plaintiffs claimed that the United States -- in clear and direct violation of the Fifth Amendment -- had taken their contractual water rights.
This "taking" occurred when the United States Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) imposed restrictions on water outflows in California's primary water distribution system to "protect" the [listed] delta smelt and winter-run chinook salmon.