Klamath...still dying for a drink

CalBaer

Elite Refuge Member
Joined
Feb 20, 2002
Messages
6,967
Reaction score
2,300
Location
CA
Now, Tule Lake NWR needs to be added to this video, too. So, what have we accomplished since this video was produced? The situation has deteriorated greatly.




Good news....no botulism outbreak. Bad news....no water. These two bone dry NWR's will have a huge impact on the 2022-23 hunting season in CA. Production of mallards, gadwall and cinnamon teal will be greatly reduced just to highlight a few species. Birds will bypass the Basin (they have no option) and will arrive early in the Central Valley in greater numbers than usual. These birds will pattern early, find the safe zones, and develop nocturnal feeding habits, thus making hunting difficult. We have 3 full moon cycles before the BOS opener. Large amounts of birds will arrive before 10/23. The goose hunting will remain solid as they are typically daytime feeders and their breeding grounds had good production. It isn't a coincidence that the highest state mallard BPOP's also saw a full LK and Tule Lake in the mid-90's/early 2000's. Water got cut-off to the farmers in 2001. 2006 is when electrical pumping costs changed and we saw a huge reduction in water being pumped from the D Plant from Tule Lake to LK. We saw a precipitous drop-off in our mallard population a few years later and reduced harvest coincided. Obviously, there are issues in the Central Valley that are limiting our states' waterfowl production, too. But we have a double whammy as far as the Basin is concerned: We lost both breeding and molting habitat.

What should we do in regards to the Klamath situation? Let's be pragmatic.

1. Buy water directly from the Klamath Indians. The sucker fish is just a political tool to get Federal money. The Klamath have been bought off before many times and will again multiple times in our lifetime. Just get it over with and pay them in years when the lake level is low. Purchasing water from the upstream ranchers and transferring it to LK/Tule has just upset the lower basin farmers of KID, TID and KDD. Plus, the water can get siphoned off upstream as it is being delivered. That Upper Klamath water, as it it set-up now, goes to the farmers first via canals, pumps and water delivery systems they built and payed for by their irrigation districts. By bypassing the farmers, the conservation groups are working against the local farming community. We need to develop partnerships with them, not antagonize and alienate them. The locals are fearful the Feds want to end farming in the Basin. Drive around. Read the political signs. Meet the people. Have a conversation. Engage and learn the history. Having a pulse on the local community of local politics of water, farming and ranching is important. Conservation organizations seem tone-deaf at times. Other than the local USFWS employees and Brad Kirby (TID), does anyone that spoke in the video (CWA, Audubon, DU, etc.) live in the Basin or visited in the last 2 years since the video was produced?

2. Sue the Bureau of Reclamation for withholding water. Join TID and the other local water districts. If it makes sense to join forces with Portland Audubon, then do that as well. The Biological Opinion in its current management form needs to be contested and argued in court.

President of California Waterfowl
Association Ph. D. Robert McLandress, , UC Davis ecology:
"There are (433) species of wildlife here; the (biological) opinion deals with three."
Here in the Pacific Flyway, Klamath Basin is "...the most important waterfowl area in North America..." Waterfowl eat "...70 million pounds of food here...," and more than half comes from the farms.

3. Develop relationships with local agencies to take advantage of small victories that can help get some water to the refuge. For example, TID (not sure about KID and KDD) was given 3" of UK surface water last month. Work with them to get any excess or recycled water to the refuge. Drive around the basin and meet the locals. Sit down and engage with them. Don't just fly in for a meeting and leave the same day. Many distrust the Federal government. It has its merits as we saw in 2001 and the past few years.



4. If it's an issue that can only be solved at the national (Federal) level, then use the CWA Klamath Project Funds to lobby in DC with a full-time staff. How has CWA spent those funds to date? Utilize national organizations (Sportman's Alliance, Safari Club, DU, Delta, Audobon) to lobby elected officials. Figure out how much money we need to purchase water for the refuge. Get the funding and get the legislation passed. Tap into Covid funds, drought emergency funds, state water bond propositions, CRP, Ag Bill.



Federal agencies and non-profits have failed the KBNWR complex. We need to accept responsibility, take action now and make a difference ASAP or the Basin won't return in our lifetimes. We will lose all of our hunting tradition in the Klamath Basin. The refuge could eliminate the waterfowl hunting program altogether if it doesn't have enough water. We've already seen Sump B closed because Sump A was dry and the birds need some sanctuary. Therefore, not a single waterfowl hunt day was allowed at Tule Lake Sump A and B last year. And no waterfowl hunting has taken place the last two seasons at LK in CA. That's a lot of lost public hunting opportunity. Both refuges had some of the best waterfowl hunting in the nation just 50 years ago. No way would a hunter in 1971 believe that hunters would not shoot a duck there in 2021. Or again in 2022!!! CA waterfowl production and hunting will continue to spiral downward. License sales and duck stamps will drop to a point that it may not be able to recover as our hunting population ages and stops hunting, while at the same time our younger outdoorsmen see the writing on the wall and move out of state to join many of our friends who have already left for much greener (pun intended) opportunity.
 
Last edited:

ICDUK

Elite Refuge Member
Joined
May 29, 2000
Messages
1,463
Reaction score
170
Location
Vacaville,CA. USA
CB, great comments, analysis, and suggestions. Now if only all of the stakeholders could work together to find a solution for LK and Tule. Never in my lifetime did I think there would ever be a day that these refuges would be shut down to hunting. I was fortunate to hunt there since the 80's. My uncle and friends hunted both of these refuges in the 60's and 70's when the hunting was spectacular. A very special place with unique hunting conditions that we do not have here in the valley, very sad.
 

Plumgold1

Elite Refuge Member
Joined
Nov 1, 2012
Messages
3,304
Reaction score
2,081
Location
California
Fat lady is singing boys...unless you hunt the SINK or the STINK...:dv
 

California Flyway

Elite Refuge Member
Joined
Jan 13, 2001
Messages
19,370
Reaction score
2,152
Location
Gualala, California
OK,
If you can restore water to the refuge by buying it from willing sellers, why has it not happened? Why are the Native Americans not willing to be "bought off"?

Concerning changing the "Bi-Op''. Any changes need to be supported by peer reviewed science, not yanking political levers as there are people, communities, fish, and wildlife not in the Klamath refuge area that depend on adequite flows.

Didn't we just go through this discussion in great detail?

https://www.refugeforums.com/thread...and-livelihoods.1088108/page-10#post-12033802
 
Last edited:

CA Birdman

Elite Refuge Member
Joined
Dec 31, 2001
Messages
12,706
Reaction score
3,307
Location
Elk Grove, CA
All the western US had below average rainfall last winter, Oregon and WA got bailed out some by spring and summer rains. Yes hunters moving north and east but water is an issue through out the western US. Was just at the Snake River a couple weeks back. .
 

CalBaer

Elite Refuge Member
Joined
Feb 20, 2002
Messages
6,967
Reaction score
2,300
Location
CA
Outflows to Upper Klamath Lake over 100% of average --- Inflows around 25% of average
KID Update July 22, 2022​
Despite the evaluation of a third year of drought and assessing natural conditions which would have pre-empted water flowing out of Upper Klamath Lake during dry periods such as we are currently experiencing, a great deal of water is being unnecessarily and unnaturally evacuated from the Klamath Basin into the Klamath River canyon below Keno.

Prior to the development of the Klamath Project, the natural Keno reef would have backed up any water coming out of Link River (highly unlikely given the current conditions) allowing no less than 188,000 acre-feet of water to evaporate from the Klamath River system in the Lower Klamath Lake removing this water from any available supply for down river use. Less than 20,000 acre feet of this water is anticipated to return to the area in 2022 where 188,000 acre-feet would have naturally evaporated from.

The natural lakes of Lower Klamath, Tule, TIngley, Spring, and the Lost River Slough covering over 188,000 acres would have evaporated no less than 3 acre feet of water per acre across the entire surface area. The fact that no less than 564,000 acre feet of water evaporated from these wetlands is ignored by hydrologists in their modeling of natural conditions. Water that would not have been available to the Klamath River canyon below Keno. Less than 14% of the 564,000 acre feet of water which naturally would have evaporated annually from these 188,000 acres will be returned in 2022.

Under natural conditions these water bodies would evaporate signifigant amounts of water in July and August which in turn would naturally create localized weather events including thunderstorms and rain showers providing moisture in the area of the 2021 Bootleg fire and created cooler air temperatures around the basin...thus cooler water temperatures...thus later algae blooms.

So far this season, there has not been enough evaporation to recreate these naturally occurring weather patterns and water temperatures in the remaining water bodies are increasing resulting in earlier toxic algae blooms.

Between 1 March and 30 September, no less than 407,400 acre feet will be released to the Klamath River canyon below Keno (well over 100% of average. Given natural conditions, the amount would be closer to 75,000 acre feet under natural conditions if we compare 2022 with 1931) when inflows to Upper Klamath Lake are measured at under 25% for most of the past 3 years.
 

mpkowal

Elite Refuge Member
Joined
Oct 20, 2015
Messages
3,823
Reaction score
2,672
Disclaimer. I am a pretty Sarcastic SOB.
So my question is Can't Ducks Unlimited help here?
 

California Flyway

Elite Refuge Member
Joined
Jan 13, 2001
Messages
19,370
Reaction score
2,152
Location
Gualala, California
Cal Bear posted,
"a great deal of water is being unnecessarily and unnaturally evacuated from the Klamath Basin into the Klamath River canyon below Keno."

So that is Klamath Irrigation District's opinion.
There are many opinions from hydrologists, biologists and geomophologists about Klamath flows.
 

DesertMallards

Senior Refuge Member
Joined
Apr 20, 2008
Messages
171
Reaction score
189
Location
SoCal
I don't think they bypass the basin entirely...plenty of water and ag in K Falls.
 

Top