A Story of Balance

Life on the Refuge

The Klamath Basin National Wildlife Complex includes six diverse refuges that encompass over 200,000 acres. They straddle the California – Oregon border. Here, seven habitats offer food and sanctuary to over 450 species. This is an important stop along the Pacific Flyway.

Swans spending the winter on Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge.
photo-Anders Tomlinson

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.

Western grebe and baby move towards the future.
photo-Anders Tomlinson

There are summer days with bodies of water, large and small, shallow and deep, moving and still. Waterfowl, many of each, eat and rest, floating or standing. There are windy winter 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 north bound 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 harvest comes to an end. This is home to resident mammals, fish, amphibians and birds seasonally migrating across the refuges.

Looking at Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge and Mt. Shasta.
photo-Anders Tomlinson

This is life on the refuges. Nature does what it does and everything else adapts or disappears. It is what it is. Mountains surround a vast parade of shifting life. And there are storms. And there are moments of absolute tranquility. This is what my cameras have captured. This is what I have seen and heard. This is what I want to share with the world, a micro-cosmos of life on planet earth.

Walking Wetlands

A two year old wetland once was, and will become, a farm field.
photo-Anders Tomlinson

Land for farming and wildlife refuge continue to be reduced by urbanization. “Walking Wetlands” on Tule Lake and Lower Klamath National Refuges documents a successful program that incorporates the two on a rotational basis. Farm land and refuge become one, a timely recipe for success. The concept is simple. Take farm fields out of production. Build containment and connecting water structures. Flood the fields. Let them grow, managing and mimicking nature’s way, into marshes Do so for three years. Drain and allow entry and exit 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 add 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. Flood, water manage and return to agriculture. At all times, wildlife find values 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.


Pelicans, seen throughout the summer, and grebes rest and feed on Tule Lake.
photo-Anders Tomlinson

We have so much to learn from nature. My greatest insights have come from field observations. These diverse refuges have taken me to many places in many times. Each of the refuges has 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 refuges for years after year after year. My greatest moments have been those where I blended into the landscape and became a simple component in a grand movement. A Year in the Life on the Refuges from tule-lake.com.

©2010 Anders Tomlinson, all rights reserved.

A Year in the Life from Crater Lake to the Lava Beds

Visitors from Sweden enjoy Crater Lake's majesty.
photo-Anders Tomlinson

In Search of Majesty… a remarkable landscape

Upper Klamath Basin was once a large lake, Ancient Lake Modoc.
Today, the basin is enclosed to the west by the Southern Cascades,
Crater Lake- Mt. Mazama to the north, towering fault blocks to the east
and Medicine Lake Highlands to the south. Here are six National Wildlife Refuges,
Crater Lake National Park, Lava Beds National Monument, Modoc National Forest,
Winema National Forest, Mountain Lakes Wilderness Area and Sky Lakes
Wilderness Area. Several State and County parks and six history
museums dot the Basin. And there is water in all its many splendid forms.

Upper Klamath Lake as seen from a Running Y Ranch Resort ridge line.
photo-Anders Tomlinson

This is a land of four seasons. 30 to 50 degree temperature changes in a day
are common. Above the sagebrush, juniper, ponderosa, lodge pole, marsh,
lakes and rivers are moving skies that inspire one’s imagination.

History is here, protected by proud people. Geology is well represented by
evidence of many natural forces in action. This is a land of fire that has seen
flooding and drought numerous of times. It is not an easy place to live.
All must prepare for winter and a spring that can be harsh and seemingly unending.

Sparkling springs bubble up with cold clear water that turn into immediate creeks
and rivers. Migrating waterfowl find sanctuary and food here in the spring and fall.
One can learn much of the selfless effort required to raise young by watching the
wildlife care for there own during the summer and fall. It is not easy. Everything
has to be working together to make life sustainable. There have been times when
this wasn’t the case and wildlife, in all it’s splendid forms, left in search of survival.

Petroglyph Point in the Lava Beds.
photo-Anders Tomlinson

There are many reason this film should be seen?

The Upper Klamath Basin is a microcosms of planet earth. Shield volcanos
of Hawaii are mirrored by Medicine Lake Highlands. Water features from across
the world are here. Desert, seasonal and permanent marsh, forests, alpine features,
the earth is alive and growing with stratovolcanos and towering fault blocks.
And here, man has made his mark. Human settlers have been coming through here for
12,000 years. This area gives one opportunities that few places offer.
Here, is a story of an ever changing earth. And here is a reflection of man.

Anders on Klamath Marsh National Wildlife Refuge.
photo-Jeff Ritter

Producer – Director: dedication, discipline and desire.

Anders Tomlinson spent 12 years filming the Upper Klamath Basin. Projects included
films for Oregon Institute of Technology, Running Y Ranch, University
of California, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, Klamath Chamber of Commerce, Volcanic
Legacy All American Road, Oregon Governor’s Conference on Tourism,
Klamath Water Users and the California Waterfowl Association.
All of these films blend nature audio with music. Several musicians, song writers
and composers have visited me over the many years of this project. Their work
is the backbone to all my films.

©2010 Anders Tomlinson, all rights reserved.

Tulelake: Farming and Refuge working together.

Millions of visitors come each year to a land of harvests and growing families.

Tulelake, Tule Lake, Tule Lake Basin… you say potato, I say grebe, you say coyote, I say horseradish, you say harriers, i say cattle, you say pelicans, I say grain, you say mint, I say osprey, you say antelope, I say alfalfa and on and on and on… here is the nature of reclaimed lake bed used by farmers, wildlife and nature watchers. This land is alive in many more ways than controversial media sound bites and headlines you may have seen and heard.

Pelicans rest on the bank of a flooded field as farm equipment passes by. photo-Anders Tomlinson

Delivering water to soil that was once a lake bed.

Tule Lake Basin is crisscrossed by Tulelake Irrigation District’s 600 miles of canals- that’s 1,200 miles of shoreline. Water is moved back and forth from farm fields to drains, back to farms, or the lake or U.S. Fish and Wildlife projects. Today, the amount of water used in a year could be less than what naturally evaporated from old Tule Lake. Seasons dance under passing clouds and deep blue skies. A Year in the Life through photos and words.

Around the year, if there is water in irrigation canals there is wildlife.

A modern relationship between man and migrating waterfowl.

I have had people tell me that other people have told them that Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge is too geometric with all the rectangular farm fields. Everywhere there are right angles, so unnatural for wildlife. I laugh. I wonder where those people live. The chances are their homes were built on land that was once wildlife habitat. It is also possible the land was graded and plated into grids. And in Southern California the lush landscaping, fueled by borrowed water, strived to break up the squares. How can these folks look at wildlife thriving in Tule Lake Basin and say their Tule lifestyle is unbecoming?

Wildlife takes advantage of everything it is aware of. It has been said what is good for the goose is good for the gander. Can it be said what is good for man is good for geese? Or what is good for geese is good for man? There are few habitats left that migrating waterfowl can use. Places like Tulelake are all that these migrations have. Wildlife use Tulelake refuge and farmland to survive.

Looking south from hills behind Merrill and Malin, Oregon.
photo-Anders Tomlinson

Mother nature does what she does.

The springs of 2007 and 2008 in the Upper Klamath Basin were wet. Relatively undeveloped refuge such as Upper Klamath Lake and Klamath Marsh National Wildlife Refuges had so much water there was no where for birds to put nests. Nests were being built on canal fed Tule and Lower National Wildlife Refuges. Man’s ability to manage water levels provided wildlife with safe nesting areas. Free flowing nature can be a killer, as well as a provider. Despite man’s researched predictions, whatever the research intentions may be, the world doesn’t always follow projected mathematical models. The story of Tulelake is both ancient and modern. It is a story of accommodation and cooperation. One needs to visit, linger, listen and watch with willing and open eyes. The future of man and wildlife plays out before you.

©2010 Anders Tomlinson, all rights reserved.

Fields of Splendor

The spring waterfowl migration to Tulelake-Klamath Falls is a sight to behold. Millions have enacted this yearly passage for thousands of years. Fields Of Splendor follows the spring migration from early February through late May. It also visits arctic breeding grounds and California wintering spots including Sacramento and Sonny Bono National Wildlife Refuges. Common denominators are bodies of water surrounded by farmland.

Snow geese rise off a farm field near Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge.
photo-Anders Tomlinson

Watching a lake surface, or farm field, explode with a riotous rising of thousands of geese can take one’s breath away. One becomes part of the excitement as the geese circle overhead. How, and why, do they do what they do? Fields of Splendor makes sense of the coming and goings of Snow, Speckled and Canadian geese finding food and refuge on Tule Lake and Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuges and Tulelake farmland. Spring Migration video.

The script for Fields of Splendor was written by Dr. Lawrence Powers. Soundtrack is by SonicAtomics. Editing will begin in the Fall or 2012.

©2010 Anders Tomlinson, all rights reserved.

Tulelake: A Graphic Rest Stop

In 2008 Anders designed eight square panels, each 48 inches tall, for a community rest stop at the intersection of Highway 139, and Main Street in Tulelake. It clearly showcases places and things one can enjoy if they leave the highway and explore the surrounding landscape.

Here is California's beginning or end depending on the direction one is driving.

All of this within 39 miles from this rest stop

The adventure begins as history comes alive off the beaten path.

Visit the largest concentration of bald eagles in the lower 48 states

These are the first waterfowl refuge and a wildlife - agricultural oasis.

Many naturalists list the Klamath Basin as “Best for West Coast Birding”

At least 489 species of wildlife visit or live in this volcanic wonderland.

A magical place, well worth visiting any time of year

Explore North America's greatest concentration of lava tube caves.

You are here, standing at a Crossroad in History!

For 12,000 years humans have roam this land.

This is the second Reclamation Project as the USA looked to expanding west

In the beginning the challenge was removing water.

Some of the first steps to land on the moon were here.

The Volcanic Legacy All-American Road runs through here.

The largest Volcano in California: 24 miles in diameter, 150 miles in circumference

750 square miles of landscape is covered with lava.

The Little Rest Stop with A Big Story

Here are eight panels, 4' x 4', that share epic tales and wondrous landscapes.

©2010 Anders Tomlinson, all rights reserved.