Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuges Table of Contents
Wildlife and Farmland HERE FOR AUDIO, President of California Waterfowl Association Ph. D. Robert McLandress, UC Davis ecology: "There are (433) species of wildlife here; the (biological) opinion deals with three..." Here in the Pacific Flyway, Klamath Basin is "...the most important waterfowl area in North America..." Waterfowl eat "...70 million pounds of food here...," and more than half comes from the farms.
Articles, editorials, letters and facts
A coalition of conservation groups, including the California Waterfowl Association, Ducks Unlimited, the Klamath Basin Audubon Society and Bird Ally X, wrote to Reclamation in October asking them to continue the "well-established practice" of releasing the lake's surplus water for fall migration and irrigation purposes. Reclamation declined to do so, citing concerns about meeting higher minimum lake elevations come spring, especially following two extremely dry years. Klamath Basin Refuge Complex Supervisory Biologist John Vradenburg told the Herald and News last month that, while the lack of water on Lower Klamath and Tule Lake refuges this summer may have helped stave off an avian botulism outbreak, not having winter water to produce food and habitat for birds migrating north in the spring is a much more serious problem. Millions of birds already skipped the Klamath Basin, once the single most important wetland complex on the Pacific Flyway, for the 2021 fall migration, and their wintering grounds in the Central Valley are producing less food due to drought. When they return in the spring, they'll be extra hungry and in need of a rest stop."
KBC NOTE: because The Bureau of Reclamation denied water to the farms and refuges) Eventually, refuge managers will try to refill Sump 1A and create a better environment for waterfowl.""Tule Lake Sump 1A is mostly dry after most of its water was drained to Sump 1B to try and prevent the spread of botulism..." (
The following comment was on our Klamath Basin
Crisis Facebook page:
November 2022 - From Matt
days ago in a discussion in this fb group regarding
suckers, hatchery, and draining Sump 1A : "Michael this
has been attempted on a couple different instances
since 2001 and has failed. I sat in on one of the
original meetings regarding a Sucker Hatchery. It
was set up on Lower Klamath Wildlife refuge towards
the Sterns Unit. It was working well until the Birds
found it and ate most of them! I also had the
opportunity to be part of the Team that assisted
with Sucker fish capture on the Caldona (Running Y)
marsh when the dike broke. This made for what the
ESA and the Tribes called the perfect Sucker
Habitat. However, I believe we only captured around
30-40 Suckers. Then let’s fast forward to
this year when TID with the assistance of Ducks
Unlimited and the Tulelake Basin Farmers drained
(again supposed perfect sucker habitat). Multiple
Large Adult Breeding suckers were trapped however
were not allowed to be moved from 1A to Klamath
Lake. They were moved to Sump 1B where most were
found floating a few weeks later."
drained Tule Lake’s largest unit of open water to mitigate avian botulism outbreaks on Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge..."Last month, biologists and irrigators
Wish List for Suckers Nails Farms, USFWS proposal 1992
The Wood River Valley rancher...proposed selling 4,500 acre-feet of his water right to the refuge...CWA is in the process of lobbying the federal government to eventually purchase the full 30,000 acre-feet, which could cost up to $60 million. That could easily be funded by Congress... a 30,000 acre-feet delivery would allow Lower Klamath to support an additional 3,000 acres of grain, 1,000 acres of pasture, 2,000 acres of permanent wetlands and 4,600 acres of other wetlands..." Go HERE for the previous 100,000 acres of agricultural land acquisition by the U.S. government: "One ranch at a time, Government agencies and TNC promised that these farm and ranch acquisitions would save water, improve water quality, benefit fish, and store water for the rest of the irrigators and put more water into the Klamath River. The opposite is true..." KBC NOTE: Our refuges were designed to receive water after it was pumped through the Klamath Reclamation Project. This amount was substantial until the government-mandated instream-required-water-for-fish skyrocketed. Water for fish = less or no water for birds and 489 species of wildlife, and farmers. Thus, when the Klamath Project gets it's full delivery, the runoff water goes to the refuges. This Project water historically was in a closed basin until Reclamation blasted a tunnel through Sheepy Ridge to supply Lower Klamath Refuge and keep farms from flooding. Pacific Power raised Project power rate more than 2000%, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service refuses to pay the $100's of thousands power costs for D Plant to pump water into Lower Klamath Refuges from the Project.
Klamath farmers confront dry year, legal challenge,
CFBF 3/24/2021. "...Environmental
groups challenged the plan's continued allowance of
leasing refuge lands for agriculture as inconsistent
with the refuges' purpose of waterfowl management.
Conversely, the Tulelake Irrigation District
challenged the new restrictions as inconsistent with
the Kuchel Act, which identifies agriculture as a
key purpose of the refuges...John
Crawford, president of the Tulelake Irrigation
District board of directors, farms on the refuge and
said he is proud of local farmers' contribution to
the waterfowl population...'We leave a tremendous
amount of grain standing there for ducks and geese
every year. Right now, there's thousands of geese
utilizing that standing grain that was left last
fall...' "...U.S. Bureau of Reclamation said it
anticipates it will not have enough water this
summer to meet minimum requirements for endangered
fish, let alone to fulfill irrigation demands."
...For more than 20 years now, the agriculture community have been the whipping boy for all the problems concerning the salmon, sucker and algae in the Klamath Lake Basin. So called “experts” from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, the tribes above and below the lake, fisheries personnel, a local MD, biologists and others have told us how to fix the problem: Fence the riparian area of all streams, remove 30-40,000 acres of productive farm ground along the lake, keep water levels high in lake, remove cattle or keep manure out of lake. All the above have been done and nothing works. Maybe the decline in suckers is due to the trophy trout population consuming the sucker fry or the cormorants and terns and other fish eating birds are responsible. Cormorants and terns are major factors with salmon fry in the Columbia River system...
Refuge Page articles for more on fish-eating Caspian Terns lured to Tulelake and Lower Klamath refuges on million-dollar, FWS-made islands from eating baby salmon. Now baby suckers? Scroll down for more Caspian Tern informationHas anything been done to reduce the number of fish-eating Cormorants? It seems everyone thinks the problem with no surviving baby sucker fish is the water level..." KBC NOTE: See our
agricultural plaintiffs argued these burdens would
threaten the viability of farming and interfere with a
federal law governing leases of refuge lands."
Lower Klamath refuge to start getting water, KWUA 9/5/19. “Even in a year with 130 percent of average precipitation, we still did not have a full allocation to the Project,” said Klamath Irrigation District Manager Gene Souza. "The ESA requirements for fish are overwhelmingly the biggest risk to the water needs of the Refuge as well as the Project.”
Oregonians for Food and Shelter Legislative Review 1/11/19. Bans neonicotinoids, aerial pesticide prohibition, forest practice bans, dairy size prohibitions and regulations, Articles: Carbon Cap, Wolf talks, Klamath Refuge Management Attacks, Walden townhalls.
Klamath Refuge construction an effort to save salmon (on
the Columbia River). Habitat restoration aimed at
dispersing (fish eating) Caspian Tern populations,
H&N 2/14/18. "...According to
Beckstrand, the Caspian tern population along the
Columbia River has been responsible for around 15
million to 20 million salmon smolts being eaten
annually. The cormorant population growing on East Sand
Island is estimated to be responsible for an additional
11 million young salmon each year..."
Farming inside refuges transforms Klamath Basin agriculture, H&N by OPB 7/28/17
Irrigators file lawsuit over Klamath refuge restrictions, H&N from Capital Press 4/13/17. "The Tulelake Irrigation District, Klamath Water Users Association, Tulelake Growers Association and three private farms have now filed a complaint against the agency, arguing that plans for the Tule Lake and Lower Klamath refuges violate federal laws."
***FINAL Plan for Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuges, available for public review, 12/9/16. It deals with acquiring more water, the KBRA, climate change, whether farming is compatible with refuges...
US Fish and Wildlife Service: Klamath Basin
leaseland farming on the refuges with hundreds of
new proposed regulations that would shut down
COMMENT PERIOD is extended to August 4th. Follow
this link for FWS documents >
COMMENTS DUE JUNE 20:
Notice of Availability of
Draft Comprehensive Conservation Plan/Environmental Impact
Statement on Lower Klamath, Clear Lake, Tule Lake, Upper
Klamath, and Bear Valley National Wildlife Refuges, Klamath
County, OR; Siskiyou and Modoc Counties, CA
Photo Lower Klamath Refuge April 24, 2015
Refuges seeking contracts with farmers by April 3rd. Agreements are crop share and growers are responsible for all growing costs, H&N 3/26/15
RESCUE in the REFUGE, Botulism outbreak: 100 birds a day found ill or dead, and KBC NEWS commentary, Herald and News 8/31/14. "According to Greg Addington, executive director of the Klamath Water Users Association, in the KBRA, a block of water is allocated for the Klamath Project and for the Klamath refuge complex...All the problems we’re seeing in the community related to water can be resolved with the Klamath Settlement Agreements...” Part of Commentary: "Take, for example, the Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge. The complex has been perpetually short on water in recent years and a jump in power costs in 2004 has made pumping water to replenish wetlands prohibitively expensive....(Manager Ron Cole) estimates that in 2001 it cost 33 cents to pump an acre-foot of water onto the refuge. The cost to do the same to day is $9.20.
Klamath Basin - Lack of bird refuges plan spurs lawsuit, H&N 4/25/14.
Tribe seeks protection for refuges; Modoc Nation members want to halt water removal, H&N, posted to KBC 3/16/14. “The Modoc Nation respectfully requests the U.S. Congress, Department of the Interior, the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife stop all pumping and irrigating off the sacred water in this refuge complex" KBC NOTE: The Modoc Tribe, recently branched off from the Klamath Tribe in 2010. The Klamath Tribe in the KBRA agreed with the Congressional right of irrigators to farm the FWS refuge leases. The Modoc Tribe requests all water to be used for their sacred endangered suckers. FWS has built two islands in these refuges which are successfully attracting fish parasites, Caspian Terns, which eat baby fish and keep the species endangered.
Comments due 2/21/14 on more relocation of Columbia Basin fish predators Caspian Terns, which were relocated to Tule Lake and Klamath refuges. Corps seeking comment on plans to again reduce Caspian Tern nesting area on East Sand Island, Due Feb 21, 2014, CBB 1/24/14. “In 2013, at 1.58 acres of nesting habitat on East Sand Island, the number of nesting pairs was near 7,600 and predation on juvenile salmon was near 4.7 million...“In 2013, approximately 680 Caspian terns moved from East Sand Island to some of the constructed inland sites, including Summer Lake, Malheur Lake, Crump Lake, Sheepy Lake, and Tule Lake.” KBC NOTE: These fish predators eat baby fish and were relocated to Tule Lake and Klamath refuges. Our baby suckers are mysteriously vanishing. 100,000 acres of irrigation water were shut off above the Klamath Project because Indians demanded it due to low juvenile sucker counts, claiming more water in the lake makes more suckers. Write comments regarding Columbia building Caspian Tern habitat, terns killed millions of juvenile salmon so they relocated them here, and plan to relocate more. http://www.nwp.usace.army.mil/Media/Announcements/tabid/1887/Article/21181/draft-ea-caspian-tern-nesting-habitat-reduction-east-sand-island.aspx
Hunting improves on bird refuges,
H&N, posted to KBC 11/17/13. "A
Nov. 1, conducted by Jim Hainline for
the USFWS, revealed nearly 100,000 birds
are currently in the refuge..."
(Klamath Basin) Farmland lease bids hit new record, H&N 4/26/12.
ESA partially to blame for bird kill at refuges, Debbie Kliewer, H&N letter 4/7/12.
Water requested for refuges, 26 groups sign letter to Secretary Salazar to bring more water to wildlife refuges, Siskiyou Daily 3/30/12. “USFWS does not pay to pump the water through the mountain. Tulelake irrigators pay the entire cost, hundreds of thousands of dollars in power bills... if farms receive water, the (Tule Lake) refuge receives water...Buying-out water rights will dewater fields. Dewatering fields means that neighboring fields must use more water to irrigate. As we learned from the water shutoff in 2001, when fields and ditches go dry, our aquifer’s water level drops significantly...(KWUA director) Addington, whose group supports the Klamath settlement agreements that are part of the proposal to remove four dams on the river, said if those agreements were implemented their provisions would alleviate this problem." KBC editor: If the KBRA were in effect, according to KWAPA/Klamath Water and Power Agency director Holly Cannon, "What you're giving up is water to get affordable power...20-25%." When ask what the power rate will be, or if it will be lower than tariff rate, Cannon said, "We can't guarantee it." So Addington is partly correct because the KBRA does buy out water rights and downsize agriculture. However, when ag water is put into wetlands, it evaporates twice the water as used by intermittent sprinkling of crops, so it will not produce more water. Since tribes and environmental groups sued to multiply our power rate over 2000% and won, farmers are no longer able to afford power to pump water out of our closed basin as often into LK, water that historically never left the Tulelake basin. The blackmail of the KBRA was, if farm leaders sign onto the dam removal deal, those tribes and environmental groups (voting KBRA members) would agree to allow farmers an affordable power rate, and the feds would pay some of the costs to pump the water out of the closed basin into Lower Klamath refuge and Klamath River.
Leave it alone, H&N
letter by Henry Christiansen, past Tulelake refuge manager 9/8/04,
regarding Rep Earl Blumenauer's persistence in trying to eliminate
refuge farming, "...it
would take 162,800 acre-feet more water to flood the farm area than it
takes to farm it. At present, that amount of water isn't available and
there isn't anything indicating it will ever be available."
Ron Cole, Klamath Basin Refuge Manager, alerts Audubon groups that there is not enough water on refuges because farmers can't afford the power bills to pump it into the refuges and river on Feb. 10, posted 3/29/12
"To make matters worse, these commercially leased agricultural fields regularly receive water even in years when the refuge’s wetlands are, in stark contrast, left totally dry." KBC EDITOR: Check out these KBC photos below from fall 2010. Photo to left is dry dead fields. Center photo is farm leaseland on left and Tule Lake wildlife refuge on right. Photo on right is full Tule Lake.
KWUA newsletter regarding Buying out Irrigators 5/11/04 by director Dan Keppen, when environmental groups and USFWS promoted it before.
Geothermal energy plant planned for Klamath wildlife refuge, SBO, posted to KBC 3/29/12. "Take, for example, the Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge. The complex has been perpetually short on water in recent years and a jump in power costs in 2004 has made pumping water to replenish wetlands prohibitively expensive....(Manager Ron Cole) estimates that in 2001 it cost 33 cents to pump an acre-foot of water onto the refuge. The cost to do the same to day is $9.20.
26 Organizations Sound Alarm on Klamath Water, Obama Administration Urged Not to Allow National Wildlife Refuges to Go Dry, Center for Biological Diversity Press Release, posted to KBC 3/29/12.
Energy site work could begin later this year, Geothermal facility on refuge considered, H&N, posted to KBC 3/1/12. "Depending on volumes produced by the geothermal wells, Cole said the refuge complex could meet all or part of those power needs and provide water to parched wetlands."
Interior Secretary Announces more than $20 Million for Wetlands Grants for Migratory Birds, 9/14/11. More than $9 Million for Wildlife Refuge Acquisitions
Refuge employee (Dave Mauser) honored, biologist earns national award for wetlands program, H&N 3/18/11.“I think this award was not for perseverance but for the work I and a lot of others have done with the Walking Wetlands program,” he said, referring to the crop rotation program. In some years, the Walking Wetlands program has added upward of 10,000 acres of wetlands and spurred expansion of organic farming." HERE for more on refuges, and FWS intentions of land and water rights acquisitions.
PUBLIC NOTICE - Tulelake National Wildlife Refuge Cooperative Farming, February 2011. KBC Note: 979 acres of private land will become seasonal wetlands, and growers will be provided land to farm in the wildlife refuge. Our federal government pays farmers to use efficient sprinklers, yet they want 979 acres of private land to have standing water much of the year.
Oregon and California Wildlife
Refuges: appropriation for ag or
fish and wildlife early 1900's.
Page 1, &
3/2/11 - Conserving the Future: Wildlife Refuges and the Next Generation, Draft Vision, 2011. Covers land acquisitions, farming, acquiring water rights, managing land outside the refuge, climate change, ... Draft Vision information page. Draft Recommendations.
PRESS RELEASE: Salazar draft vision for future of refuges 2/24/11, "Spanning more than 150 million acres of land and water..."
Letter from Bureau of Reclamation Susan Fry to Ron Cole, Fish and Wildlife Tulelake Refuge Manager, regarding FWS takeover of leaseland management, posted 7/23/10. "Ron, I understand you held a meeting with Lease Land growers on July 14th and announced that FWS had “fired the Bureau” and would be taking over the lease land program. Since I have not heard from you regarding the lease land program since April/May, I am surprised to hear of this announcement..."
Suckers being moved from (Tulelake) refuge to (Klamath) lake, H&N 5/13/10. "...We think most, if not all, of these (fish) originated in Upper Klamath Lake, so we’re just putting them back where they came from...”
A new two-acre island
for Caspian terns, shown before it was flooded, was built at
the Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge.
Restoring refuges - Wildlife refuges benefit from stimulus
funds, H&N, posted 10/16/09.
Agreement guarantees refuges water, H&N 10/16/09. "(Cole)
defends the Endangered Species Act and the involved National
Environment Protection Act, which are often seen as
obstacles....“They allow citizens the right to work for
solutions, not to stop achieving solutions.”
! Walking Wetland Controversy, and Bureau of Reclamation blackmail issues, by KBC reporter July 19, 2009
Farming For Wildlife, The Nature Conservancy, 2009. "This grant will sponsor an informational trip by some of the participating farmers and other agricultural stakeholders in the Skagit Delta to Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge in the Klamath Basin region of Northern California."
Refuges receive stimulus money, H&N 5/19/09. "The stimulus money will be used to create a block of 1,300 acres that will be flooded for two years this fall. In 2010, the land will be returned to crops for three to five years."
(Klamath Basin) Walking Wetlands, Iowa Public Television, posted to KBC 5/19/09. Tulelake refuge manager Ron Cole, and Tule Lake farmers Marshall Staunton and Rob Crawford, tell about the Walking Wetland program.
Klamath Marsh event planned, H&N 6/9/08. "It originally had 16,400 acres but was expanded to 40,646 acres following purchases in 1990 and 1998. Of that acreage, 37,023 acres, or more than 90 percent, is in wetlands." (KBC NOTE: The Marsh was taken out of agriculture, decimating the cattle industry in the Upper Basin. It evaporates 2ce the water as irrigated ag, while the federal promise was, this federal acquisition would provide more irrigation water for the rest of the irrigators, somehow...Farmers and ranchers, who grew up with hand-shake contracts, fall for this line every time, to their demise. More than 100,000 acres in the Upper Basin have been converted from private ag land to federal standing-water swamps.)
Wetlands-crop rotation paying off, H&N 6/5/08
Doing fowl deeds to fields, followed by Farms’ support of birds studied, H&N 4/24/08
Counting Birds, Annual Christmas count finds more than 100 different species, followed by Winter Wings, H&N 12/22/07