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The Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge - one of the Pacific Flyway's critical waterfowl breeding, molting and migration staging areas - is being starved of essential water supplies.

The refuge is last in line for water, and increasing amounts of water are being withheld from the refuge - held in Klamath Lake or sent down the Klamath River - to help endangered fish. Meanwhile, LKNWR is turning into a duck desert.

Image of magazine infographic

This is not just a Northeastern California issue. It affects waterfowl populations throughout the Pacific Flyway because LKNWR provides (when it has water) essential habitat at critical times in their life cycles. California mallards breed there in large numbers. Mallards and other ducks that breed throughout the state rely on the Basin to provide safe haven when they need to molt in late summer - a process that leaves them flightless for 30-60 days. And migrators rely on the refuge for rest and refueling during their migrations north and south each year.

California Waterfowl is grateful to have critical support from the region's farmers, who have sent their water to the Lower Klamath and Tule Lake national wildlife refuges repeatedly in times of need.

But we also remain dedicated to a sustainable, enduring solution to the problem. California Waterfowl's chief goals are to secure high-priority water rights for the refuge and to secure an agreement to distribute water equitably in the Klamath Basin. And as we work toward those goals, we continue to seek every possible drop of water we can get for the refuge in the meantime.

Key reading:

  • A critical breakthrough in the fight for Klamath: buying water rights: Please click here to read more (March 4, 2021 article).
  • A detailed explanation of what's causing Klamath's problem: Please click here (article from Summer 2019 issue of California Waterfowl).
  • A look at Lower Klamath's importance to the Pacific Flyway, and the impact of reduced water deliveries: Please click here (PDF).
  • An explanation of "biological opinions" and their role in keeping Lower Klamath dry: Please click here.
  • Announcement of the California Waterfowl task force that is pushing hard to solve this problem: Please click here.
  • To see all our coverage of Klamath news, including links to newspaper articles, please click here.

tHE LATEST  NEWS
Our efforts, media coverage and the latest developments


Jun 2, 2021

Lower Klamath water rights purchase update

California Waterfowl's effort to purchase water rights for the Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge is awaiting approvals.

May 28, 2021

The Klamath Effect

The effects of little water for the nation's first waterfowl refuge ripple across the entire state. (From Summer 2021 issue of California Waterfowl Magazine).

May 19, 2021

CWA lauds proposed aid package that would help Klamath refuges

California Waterfowl lauds a proposal by two congressmen from Northern California and Oregon to provide $57 million in aid for the Klamath Basin, including $2.5 million to help two national wildlife refuges that are drying up.

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California Waterfowl is actively engaged in efforts to restore desperately needed water supplies to the nation's first national wildlife refuge for waterfowl. Taking the lead on this is Director of Water Law and Policy Jeffrey Volberg, who can be reached at jvolberg@calwaterfowl.org or 916-217-5117.