WASHINGTON — The Obama administration is quietly negotiating with a handful of California farmers who say San Joaquin River restoration efforts damage their land east of Los Banos.

The closed-door discussions could peacefully resolve a lawsuit filed nearly a year ago by Wolfsen Land & Cattle Co. and several associated families unhappy over side effects from river restoration. Some environmentalists, though, fear a potential settlement could undermine the river plan.

“We are concerned that if the result of the case is less water going down the river channel, that would threaten the restoration,” Natural Resources Defense Council attorney Jennifer Sorenson said Wednesday.

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