Klamath Issue Overview
National Wildlife RefugesThere are six National Wildlife Refuges in the Klamath. The Lower Klamath (its eventual name), designated by Roosevelt in 1908, was the first waterfowl refuge in the US and is a registered historic site. The refuges are considered by many to be the among the most important and beautiful of the 548 National Wildlife Refuges in the US. Despite this, Tule Lake and Lower Klamath are the only two refuges on which large-scale commercial farming is practiced.
The Solution to a Tough SituationThe solution is to end farming on the Lower Klamath and Tule Lake Refuges, sites of the leaselands farming program. This would bring these two critical refuges in line with the other 500+ refuges in the country.
No one need lose their livelihood. Much of the farmland in the Basin is already in private hands (see graphic on the right). Restoration of the refuges could be a win-win for local residents, birds, fish, tourism, and water management.
Solutions for a Positive FutureRestoring the refuges could create a more positive future all around in the Basin, with a vibrant, healthy environment, millions more dollars in the local economy from patrons to the refuges, cleaner water, and more stability and predictability in water management. A solution could be implemented that would result in a more positive and prosperous future. It could look something like this.
1. Gradually transition out of the leaseland program over several years. Provide compensation to leaseholders (a bit tricky as they change with some leasing cycles), maintaining current revenue levels for something like 15-20 years.
2. Restore the lakes and wetlands within refuge boundaries, particularly in Tule Lake and the Lower Klamath.
3. Vigorously promote refuge visitation, and agricultural products grown on private farms in the area. Provide tax breaks and incentives to support organic farming and wildlife improvements on private farms throughout the Basin.
Unfortunately, the opposte has happened, as a pending agreement between the government, farmers, and certain conservation groups and tribal governments will continue farming on the refuges for decades to come in exchange for the promise of removing some dams in the Basin.
Learn MoreOregon Wild (Formerly Oregon Natural Resources Council) is a longtime advocates for the refuges.. Together with other conservation groups including Water Watch of Oregon and the Northcoast Environmental Center, Oregon Wild founded the Klamath Conservation Partners, a coalition dedicated to reforming recent agreements that will determine the future of the Klamath Refuges. Please visit Oregon Wild's Klamath site to learn more and get involved.
Klamath National Wildlife Refuges