Sept. 13, 2012 - Wildlife migrating south through Oregon this fall are in big trouble. The wetlands of the Tule Lake and Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuges, two of the most important wildlife areas in the western U.S., are bone dry.
Winter 2013 Update
Dear Senators Wyden, Boxer, Feinstein and Merkley,
We are writing today to ask for your help in addressing the dire water situation that continues to threaten and negatively impact the fish and wildlife of Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge and Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) of southern Oregon and northern California.
We are deeply concerned by the continued and ongoing failure of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (USBR) to provide amounts of water adequate to maintain Lower Klamath NWR’s seasonal and permanent marshes. Additionally, we are concerned about the USBR’s drought plans regarding Tule Lake NWR, as discussed in the Bureau’s recent December 2012 Biological Assessment. This drought plan anticipates lowering Tule Lake water levels below established minimums and the removal (and thus the possible extirpation) of two species of endangered fish in Tule Lake, both actions in likely violation of the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).1 This plan echoes a similar, unsuccessful, and likely illegal USBR effort in 2010 to capture and remove federally listed fish from Tule Lake and allow the lake to drop below levels called for by the best available science. More.
For additional information, see "Overview of Challenges Facing the Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuges."
Fall 2012 Update
by Wendell Wood of Oregon Wild
Sept. 13, 2012 - Wildlife migrating south through Oregon this fall are in big trouble. The wetlands of the Tule Lake and Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuges, two of the most important wildlife areas in the western U.S., are bone dry. There could be little or no food or habitat for the tens of thousands of geese, eagles, swans and other birds who have come to these wetlands for thousands of years.
Letter from Earl Blumenauer to Secretary Salazar requesting water for the Klamath Refuges
Oct. 17, 2012: I am writing about the urgent situation facing the National Wildlife Refuges in the Klamath Basin, and to request that Tule Lake and Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuges (NWRs) of southern Oregon and northern California receive long overdue water deliveries. Read more.
35 Conservation Organizations Sound Alarm On Klamath Water
Sept. 24, 2012: A coalition of 35 national, regional and local conservation groups called on Interior Secretary Ken Salazar today to provide water to the Tule Lake and Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuges (NWRs) of northern California and southern Oregon. Read more.
Letter to Secretary Salazar regarding water for the Klamath Basin Refuges
Sept. 21, 2012: ... Sadly, this fall, the wetlands of these premier National Wildlife Refuges in the Klamath Basin have once again been denied even minimally sufficient amounts of water needed to provide necessary habitat for upwards of one million birds. Read more.
The Tule Lake and Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuges are all that remain of a vast network of lakes, rivers, and marshes—a paradise for birds and other wildlife.
But over the last century 80% of these wetlands were drained and destroyed to make way for commercial agriculture. The Tule Lake and Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuges were set aside to mitigate these losses.
In the 1950s, wildlife managers described them as supporting "the greatest concentration of waterfowl in North America and probably the world." During the peak of the spring and fall migrations, Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge alone supports 40 percent of all the waterfowl in the Pacific Flyway, as well as once hosting the largest concentration of wintering bald eagles in the lower 48 states.
Today, the Bureau of Reclamation's massive Klamath Irrigation Project drains and diverts water which would naturally flow to these wetlands in order to provide for commercial agribusiness operations in the arid high desert.
In summer 2012, Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge (LKNWR) wetlands received no water from the middle of May to early September, leaving the refuge parched and almost totally dry. Ironically, water for agribusiness in the Klamath Basin was not significantly reduced.
To make matters worse, some 22,000 acres of National Wildlife Refuge lands are leased for private agribusiness.
Lands originally set aside to sustain wetlands for snow geese, tundra swans and eagles are instead dominated by heavy machinery, pesticides and row crops. These lease-land agribusiness operations received full water deliveries this summer, even as adjacent National Wildlife Refuge wetlands went dry.
Please tell the Obama Administration that the Klamath National Wildlife Refuge wildlife needs water! Urge Secretary of the Interior Salazar to direct the Bureau of Reclamation to allow life-giving water to once again flow to the wetlands of the Lower Klamath and Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuges, so wildlife migrating through the region this autumn have the food and habitat they need to survive!
- Press release, September 2012: 35 Conservation Organizations Sound Alarm On Klamath Water
- September 2012 letter to Secretary Salazar regarding water for the Klamath Basin Refuges
- Press release, March 2012: 26 Organizations Sound Alarm on Klamath Water