Water users appeal ruling on central Idaho water diversions

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A group of water users on Wednesday appealed a federal court decision ordering the U.S. Forest Service to consult with other federal agencies about nearly two dozen water diversion projects in central Idaho’s Sawtooth Valley that could be harming salmon, steelhead and bull trout.

The Salmon Headwaters Conservation Association on Wednesday filed the appeal to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The group intervened in the lawsuit initially brought by the Idaho Conservation League last year.

The environmental group said the Forest Service was violating the Endangered Species Act by failing to complete consultations with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and NOAA Fisheries about the water diversions.

U.S. District Court Judge B. Lynn Winmill agreed with the environmental group in an order issued in June.

Sockeye salmon are listed as endangered, while the other species are listed as threatened. All return to the high-elevation Sawtooth Valley after swimming some 900 miles (1,400 kilometers) up the Columbia, Snake and Salmon rivers.