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Tell U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Klamath is for Birds, Not Agribusiness

Take action today to secure critical water for the Klamath National Wildlife Refuges and save the lives of birds.

Tell U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Klamath is for Birds, Not Agribusiness

Photo of Klamath by Bob Sallinger

Every year, millions of birds, up to 80% of the waterfowl on the Pacific Flyway, depend on the Klamath National Wildlife Refuges for their survival as they make their annual migrations. However, in recent years, the wetlands on the refuges have gone bone dry, contributing to the deaths of thousands of birds while water has been used to grow onions and potatoes on refuge lands that are leased to agribusinesses. We need your help to restore Klamath to its original purpose, supporting birds, and to ensure that the refuge’s water goes to the refuge wetlands where it is most needed.

Last spring, Portland Audubon, Oregon Wild and WaterWatch won an important lawsuit forcing the Klamath Refuges (Upper and Lower Klamath, Tule Lake, Bear Valley and Clear Lake) to produce a “Comprehensive Conservation Plan”. This plan was years overdue—and every one of those years was a drought year in which the wetlands went dry and thousands of birds died from disease outbreaks exacerbated by lack of water. Now we have a once in a generation chance to change the way these refuges are managed and support millions of birds, but we need your help!

Please comment on the draft Comprehensive Conservation Plan which is now out for comment. In this plan, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service must show that refuge activities are consistent with the purpose for which the refuge was established. There is no way that a straight-face argument can be made that refuge wetlands should be allowed to go dry so that 22,000 acres of leased refuge land can be irrigated for big agribusiness. It is outrageous and it needs to stop.

We have until August 4 to comment on the draft Comprehensive Conservation Plan and it is essential that people who care about Bald Eagles, Tundra Swans, Sandhill Cranes and the millions of waterfowl and shorebirds that depend on Klamath Refuges make their voices heard. The Klamath Refuges are among the most important wildlife refuges in North America, and it is time to manage them for wildlife, not agribusiness. The Klamath Refuges once supported some of the largest waterfowl concentrations in North America, but today those populations are at one-fifth of their historic levels.

Take Action

Please comment today and share this alert with your friends who care about birds and wildlife.

Key Points to Make:

  • Prioritize the conservation and restoration of migratory birds, fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats within the refuges, and reduce or eliminate activities that harm these values.
  • Phase out the lease-land agribusiness program and restore these lands to wetlands that are actually managed for wildlife.
  • Use all water rights owned by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for wildlife and wetlands first, not to support agribusiness. It is unacceptable for wetlands and wildlife areas to go dry while the USFWS allows full water deliveries to industrial agriculture on refuge lands.
  • Aggressively pursue programs to increase the amount of water available for wildlife, and use it to restore wetlands and improve conditions for native wildlife.

How to Comment:

Comments may be submitted here.

You can also mail comments here:
Public Comments Processing
Attn: FWS-R8- NWRS-2016- 0063
Division of Policy and Directives Management
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
4401 N. Fairfax Drive, MS 2042-PDM
Arlington, VA 22203

Portland Audubon’s founder, William Finley, fought to protect Klamath and helped convince President Roosevelt to establish it as one of the first refuges in Oregon. Now, more than 100 year later, help us ensure the restoration of one of Oregon’s most important bird habitats.

White Pelicans from Oregon Wild
Photo by Bret Cole/Oregon Wild
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