were rejected fully or in part, the presumed alternative for operation of the Klamath Project would be as prescribed in the USBR assessments. Thus, the committee must not only evaluate the validity of the biological opinions, but also extend the same sort of evaluation to the assessments.
The tasks of the committee encompass only the scientific and technical issues that are relevant to the endangered sucker and threatened coho species. The committee is not charged with investigating or reporting on economic dislocation or with forecasting the economic consequences of continued implementation of flows specified in the biological opinions. Given the background materials provided to the committee, however, all committee members are aware of the importance of any change in historical management of flows to water users in the Klamath Basin. Also, the committee is aware of the long-standing interest of Native American tribes of the Klamath River Basin in the maintenance and expansion of fish stocks, including Tribal Trust species not covered in this report, and of the interests of numerous other parties in water resources, wetlands, and the welfare of fishes and other aquatic life. Although the committee will not analyze economic or socioeconomic questions, it recognizes the interest of individuals and communities in the Klamath Basin in the conclusions of the committee.
Not only from an economic and social point of view but also from a perspective of ecological and biological resources, the work of the NRC committee focuses on its statement of task and on the inherent requirements of the ESA, which prohibits federal actions that jeopardize continued existence of listed species through interference with their survival or recovery (50 CFR 402.02).
The Klamath River Basin is home to hundreds of species of fish and wildlife and to distinctive native ecosystems, including wildlife refuges of national significance. Many of these natural resources have been greatly restricted or altered through human action. In fact, changes in the flow regime in the Klamath River may affect other fishes that have not yet been proposed for listing as threatened species but have not yet been listed (e.g., ESUs of steelhead and chinook salmon). The committee is charged, however, with studying the requirements of the shortnose and the Lost River suckers and the coho salmon and not those of other species in the Klamath River Basin.