Recently, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) and roughly a dozen of the nation’s leading hunting conservation organizations sent a letter to Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt urging a more consistent supply of water to the Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge in California and Oregon.
Established in 1908 as the nation’s first waterfowl refuge, the Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge is a 50,000 acre component of the Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge Complex, dedicated primarily to waterfowl conservation. An estimated 80% of waterfowl in the Pacific Flyway, or 25% of the waterfowl in North America, depend on the Klamath Basin region for staging their annual migrations. Unfortunately, the Lower Klamath has been experiencing water supply problems since 2001, perhaps even prior. In 2013-2014, as well as 2018, the refuge had a water shortage that resulted in stranded ducklings and disease outbreaks. As water deliveries have reduced since 2001, waterfowl populations have correspondingly declined as well. Currently, the Lower Klamath Refuge is experiencing a severe avian botulism outbreak that has killed an estimated 40,000 birds this summer alone.
Specifically, the letter urges up to $60 million in funding to purchase water rights within the Klamath Basin, as well as requests for assurances from the Bureau of Reclamation that the transferred water will be stored in the Upper Klamath Lake and delivered at the appropriate time. The letter also urges a source of affordable electrical power to use in pumping water within the refuge complex.
CSF will continue to closely monitor this important issue and seek ways to help address the water shortage.
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