Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Lower Klamath and the five other Klamath River Basin Refuges are key
stopover habitat for 80% of Pacific Flyway birds 

KlamBlog Alert_

Act Now To Prevent future bird deaths at Klamath Refuges

KlamBlog has learned that an Amendment to the Klamath Water Deal – the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement or KBRA – currently being negotiated in secret, would further limit the ability of Tule Lake and Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuges to secure an adequate water supply. The US Bureau of Reclamation dewatered these refuges from January until mid-March; an estimated 20,000 waterfowl and other birds died of Avian Cholera due to severe overcrowding on the few marshes which remained wet. Two to three million Pacific Flyway birds pass through the Upper Klamath River Basin each year; many overwinter on the Refuges.

The proposed amendment would prohibit all water stored in the Upper Lost River Basin from being used to supply wetlands on the Refuges. Ironically, if legislation to authorize the most controversial provisions of the KBRA becomes law, secretly negotiated amendments to the Deal - like the secret refuge-damaging amendment - would automatically be authorized by Congress. The Public would be locked out of such decisions which will only be publicly revealed after they are approved by KBRA “parties”. “Parties” are those organizations, tribes and agencies which signed the KBRA.

Ironically, adoption of the amendment would prohibit Tule Lake NWR – which is the terminus of the Lost River – from receiving water originating on the Lost River Basin’s public lands and stored in Clean Lake and Gerber Reservoir. Clean Lake is also a national wildlife refuge. 

The secret amendment process is discussed on a recent KlamBlog: here’s the refuge-damaging amendment’s text:
     "Notwithstanding any other terms of this Agreement, no call will be made for water from Clear Lake or Gerber Reservoir or the Lost River above Harpold Dam for delivery to meet the Refuge Allocation in this Agreement. This limitation with respect to the Refuge Allocation under this Agreement is subject to the first two sentences of Section 2.2.11 and any rights or privileges attendant to any water rights that may be determined".

“Parties” to the KBRA can block the refuge-damaging amendment but so far they have refused to do so. Glen Spain – who represents the Pacific Federation of Fishermen’s Associations, a KBRA “party” – has specifically refused to block the amendment. Spain claims it is unlikely water from the Upper Lost River would be available for distribution to the refuges.

Glen Spain ignores the fact that the Klamath’s six national wildlife refuges are in line to have their water rights affirmed early next year in Oregon’s Klamath Adjudication. Once that affirmation occurs, the refuges will be able to make “calls” when they need water. In response to a refuge “water call”, junior right holders would have to forgo irrigation and the Bureau of Reclamation would be obligated to deliver water to the refuges.

PCFFA’s refusal to come to the aid of the Klamath Refuges is repeated by the other “parties” to the KBRA including Trout Unlimited, California Trout, the Yurok, Karuk and Klamath Tribes. When the KBRA was signed, these “parties” assured the public in press reports that the KBRA would usher in a new day when no interest would be sacrificed to advance another interest.

Those assertions ring hollow in light of the unnecessary death of an estimated 20,000 migrating and wintering birds on Lower Klamath and Tule Lake NWRs this winter. The Refuges were dewatered for 2 ½ months in order to maximize irrigation water delivery this coming summer.  Now these same organizations are supporting yet another refuge-damaging action – the proposed anti-refuge KBRA amendment.

Those who value the Klamath’s world-class wildlife refuges are encouraged to ask the governing boards of KBRA Water deal “parties” to reject the proposed KBRA refuge-damaging amendment. Below is a list of organizational presidents, CEOs, tribal chairpersons/council members and their contact information. Please take a few minutes to contact those conservation organizations and tribes which should be looking out for the refuges. Ask these contacts to share your request with all members of the governing board or tribal council and ask the governing boards to reject the proposed KBRA refuge amendment.

Please do it for the birds!

Who to contact:

PCFFA: Dave Bitts, president,; Zeke Grader, ED,,     (415)561-5080.

California Trout (CalTrout): Jeff Thompson, CEO,; Klamath lead: Curtis Knight,, 415-392-8887.

Trout Unlimited: Chris Wood, President and CEO,; Brian Johnson, Klamath lead,, (800) 834-2419.

Yurok Tribe:  Tommy O'Rourke, Chairman,, 707-482-1350. You can ask the Tribal Council’s assistant, Taralyn Offins (, to distribute your message to all Tribal Council members.

Karuk Tribe: Russell Attebery, Chairman, Mike Thom, Vice Chairman, (800) 505 – 2785. You can also ask Tribal Secretary Joseph Waddell to distribute your message to all Tribal Council members:

Klamath Tribes: Jeff Mitchell,; Larry Dunsmoor, (800) 524-9787.

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