Ducks Unlimited volunteers visit farmers in drought-stricken Klamath Basin

Ducks Unlimited leadership recently met with farmers from the drought-stricken Klamath Basin to better understand their drought-related struggles and help with solutions.

The Lower Klamath and Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuges are the linchpin of waterfowl habitat in California and Oregon’s Klamath Basin and rely on water supplied through the Bureau of Reclamation’s Klamath Project canals from the Klamath Drainage District (KDD) or Tulelake Irrigation District (TID).

Ducks Unlimited Senior Vice President of Public Policy Al Montna, DU Past President and Wetlands America Trust Board Member Paul Bonderson Jr., and DU Western Regional staff toured the region.

“It is clear after our visit that the farmers and ranchers of the Klamath Basin are not only integral problem solvers for the plight of waterfowl in the region but are key to solving the water supply challenges in the Basin and on the Refuges,” Montna said. “Their commitment to working with DU on working lands conservation programs will benefit farm families, the local economy, waterfowl, fish and many other species that use these lands. This partnership will promote the efficient use of every water molecule in the Basin.”

DU is developing water management solutions and improvements with the districts and others to support waterfowl and agriculture in the basin.

The visit started with the Klamath Water Users Association discussing project history and identifying some of the current water supply challenges. Then the group followed the water from the headworks off Upper Klamath Lake, through the project area, ending at Tule Lake.

The group visited the A-Canal, drove downstream through KDD, stopped at Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge and over to TID with a stop on top of Sheepy Ridge to check out the lower basin while sharing ideas and discussing potential collaborative efforts.

The dry landscape of the Lower Klamath NWR was like a scene reminiscent of the 1930s dust bowl, making it clear that DU needs to remain dedicated to improving water availability, use and management for wetland habitats and working lands.

Ducks Unlimited’s focus in the Klamath Basin is to build partnerships with farmers and ranchers to solve the Klamath Basin’s waterfowl woes.