Restoring the Klamath Basin
The Klamath Basin has been called the Everglades of the West. Six spectacular National Wildlife Refuges dot the basin. Hundreds of thousands of migratory birds rely on basin wetlands. Large numbers of bald eagles forage in the basin in the winter.
Historically, the Klamath Basin supported:
- massive concentrations of waterfowl, quite possibly the largest on the planet
- the third-largest salmon runs in the Western United States (behind only the Columbia and Sacramento rivers)
- large populations of unique sucker fish found nowhere else.
Unfortunately, large water withdrawals for irrigation, a series of dams on the Klamath River, commercial agriculture on the National Wildlife Refuges, and the loss of basin wetlands have seriously depleted these tremendous resources.
Despite the loss of habitat, the Klamath offers perhaps the best opportunity on the West Coast to restore a major river basin.
To restore the Klamath, WaterWatch is working to:
- bring demand for water back into balance with what nature can provide
- assure sufficient water for fish, wildlife, wetlands and the National Wildlife Refuges in the basin
- phase out commercial farming on 22,000 acres of Tule Lake and Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuges
- remove PacifiCorp’s four lower hydropower dams on the Klamath River
- increase legal compliance and agency accountability on water allocation and other management decisions that affect aquatic habitat
Current Klamath work
The 2002 Fish-Kill
Klamath River Basin Hydrologic Conditions Prior to the September 2002 Die-Off of Salmon and Steelhead. USGS (2003)[PDF]
The Klamath Irrigation Power Subsidy
Energy Pricing and Irrigated Agriculture in the Upper Klamath Basin. Brief #3. Dr. William Jaeger (July 2004) [PDF]
Oregon Public Utility Commission Orders
Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuges