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 rights, and increasing amounts of water are being withheld from the refuge – held in Upper Klamath Lake or sent down the Klamath River – to help endangered fish species. Only it isn't helping the fish, and meanwhile LKNWR is turning into a duck desert.
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.
- 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
Extreme 2021 water disaster unfolds in the Klamath Basin
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced last week that it would be allocating only 33,000 acre-feet from the Klamath Project this year - an amount that will leave the Klamath Basin's farmers, national wildlife refuges and salmon runs in dire straits.
H&N article about impending crisis in the Klamath Basin
The Herald and News today featured an article by Alex Schwartz detailing the impending water crisis...
Newspaper article: This wildlife refuge is drying up. An anonymous rancher wants to save it.
Herald and News reporter Alex Schwartz reports on CWA's efforts to purchase water rights for the Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge.
save lower klamath! newsletter
Archives of our occasional e-newsletter
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 email@example.com or 916-217-5117.