Life on the Refuges.
The Klamath Basin National Wildlife Complex includes six diverse refuges that encompass over 200,000 acres. They straddle the California-Oregon border. Here, in this region seven habitats offer food and sanctuary to over 450 species. This is an important stop along the Pacific Flyway. Lower Klamath national Wildlife Refuge, founded in 1908, was the nation’s first waterfowl refuge. It was followed by five others: Tule Lake, Clear Lake, Upper Klamath, Klamath Marsh and Bear Valley. Each serves a purpose. Connected, they are a complex refuge of services and needs.
A Year in the Life
There are summer days with bodies of water: canals, rivers and lakes, large and small, shallow and deep, moving and still. waterfowl, many of each, eat and rest, floating or standing. There are windy days when wildlife huddle in a frozen world, food is scarce and eagles eat the weak. In spring, man plants his crops and skies fill with northbound waterfowl. For many this is their last chance for food before reaching their Arctic breeding grounds. Fall offers refuge to all heading south as man’s harvests comes to an end. This is home to residents mammals, fish, amphibians and birds migrating seasonally across the refuges.
Lands for farming and wildlife refuge continue to be reduced by urbanization. Walking Wetlands on the Tule Lake and Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuges is a successful management program that incorporates farmland and refuge on a rotational basis. Farmland and refuge become one, a timely recipe for success and survival. The concept is simple. Take farm field temporarily out of production. Build containment and water connecting structures. Flood the fields. let them grow, managing and mimicking nature’s way into marshes. Do so for three years. Drain and allow entry for farmers
and their equipment. Farmers remove the overgrown tules, not an easy chore, turn the soil and plant crops. There is no need to costly fertilizers or weed killers, flooding did that work. magnificent crops grow in reclaimed marshes. Farm until the soil loses it’s nutrients and pesticides are needed. Repeat the process. Rebuild containment, flood, water manage and again return to agriculture. At all times, wildlife find value in both the marshes and farm fields. Yes it is a simple process. And yes, it is a complex interaction of various species and ways of life. And yes, it works.
We have so much to learn from all of nature. My greatest insights have come from field observations. The diverse refuges, especially Tule Lake, Lower Klamath, clear Lake and Upper Klamath, have taken to many places in many times. Each of the refuges have a dominant feature that no other has. And each of the refuges share common features. Time is measured in seasons and epochs. These refuges are sustainable existence. here, the little picture is the big picture. I have had the privilege of knowing these special places for twelve years. My greatest moments have been those where I blended into the landscape and became a simple component in a grand moment.
Many naturalists list the Klamath Basin as “Best for West Coast Birding”
Almost 500 species visit or live these refuge-agricultural lands.
Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge Complex videos
“There is probably no more important waterfowl area in the country than these refuges in the Upper Klamath Basin… (the refuges “act like a waist in the hourflass’ (so) “all the birds inn the Pacific Flyway funnel their way through this area in their annual migrations.” Secretary of the Interior, Stewart Udall, 1962
Overview and quick history of the landscape, wildlife and people that make the Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuges what it is, a natural wonder of diversity.
The Klamath Basin National Wildlife Complex is made of six refuges: Lower Klamath, Tule Lake, Clear Lake, Upper Klamath, Klamath Marsh and Bear Valley National Wildlife Refuges. These are wonderful places for all. Over 490 species of birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians and fish have been found in the Upper Klamath Basin.
Managing natural resources in the Klamath Basin National Wildlife Complex.
A Year in the LIfe of the Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuges. The six refuges span the Upper Klamath Basin from Klamath Marsh, east of Crater Lake National Park, to Tule Lake and Lower Klamath, north of the Lava Beds National Monument.
Visit the largest concentration of bald eagles in the lower 48 states
Lower Klamath was the first national waterfowl wildlife refuge.
©2013 Anders Tomlinson, all rights reserved