Volume 1 | Oct. 8, 2020
Save Lower Klamath!
Welcome to the inaugural edition of California Waterfowl’s Save Lower Klamath! newsletter, a monthly update for our supporters who want to see an end to the Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge’s water crisis. We’ll use this newsletter to keep you abreast of developments that affect the refuge.

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Why is Lower Klamath dry?
And what is CWA doing about it?
The Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge – the nation’s first NWR for waterfowl – is being starved of water at critical times for waterfowl, thanks largely to lawsuits and government action - so far unsuccessful - to save endangered fish.

We're focused on two long-term goals that would solve the problem, and fighting for every victory we can get while we work toward those goals.

A travesty for wetland-dependent wildlife
1905 map of the Klamath Basin - red box shows approximate area of the photo on the right (or below on mobile devices).
October 2018 satellite image of a VERY dry Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge. This should have been wet for migrating waterfowl!
Lower Klamath Refuge Task Force
The battlefield for this fight is tough terrain, a pernicious mix of water law and legal constraints imposed by the Endangered Species Act. Twenty years of fighting by all sides has not produced results.

So this year, we decided to turn up the heat with a new Task Force made of CWA staff and current and former CWA board members. Together, they have a combined 180 years of advocacy, conservation leadership and water law experience.

Ducks are paying the price
This summer at the Lower Klamath and Tule Lake NWRs, more than 40,000 ducks and shorebirds died of avian botulism - a naturally occurring disease exacerbated by crowding. The carnage was so severe that our biologists switched from duck banding to helping pick up the dead for incineration, and the sick for treatment at Lower Klamath's Duck Hospital (watch video).

Most of the ducks that died were California mallards - a population that's already in decline due to habitat loss. Read more
The botulism outbreak has been ugly, and it definitely means there will be fewer mallards in our skies this winter.

But because the Klamath Basin is extremely important to California mallards at key points in their life cycle, much more is at stake.

Every drop helps
Let's be clear: We are not happy with how little water Lower Klamath has. There wasn't enough this spring for ducklings, there wasn't enough this summer for molting and there literally isn't ANY water for hunting at this point.

That said, California Waterfowl fought hard to keep water flowing this summer, and there is no doubt it saved ducklings, helped keep the botulism outbreak from being even worse and maintained habitat for migrating waterfowl. Read more
Momentum is growing!
In discussions with Congress and the U.S. Department of Interior, CWA has often been the sole conservation/hunting advocate for Lower Klamath. But 12 other organizations have signed onto a letter to Interior seeking resolution to the crisis. Read more

And be sure to check out Audubon California's article about the botulism crisis in the Basin. Raising awareness among the nation's birders - who enjoy bird-watching at Klamath - is incredibly important.
Coming soon: video persuasion
In August, we contracted with an award-winning videographer to film a short video that we will use to raise awareness about the problem – both in the general public and in Congress – and fight for solutions. The video – funded 100% by donors – will paint a vivid picture of what's going on at Lower Klamath, which is, for far too many people, out of sight, out of mind.
Our partners and allies
Solving a problem as big as the Lower Klamath crisis can only be done in concert with a team of all-star partners and allies, starting with Klamath Basin farmers who are also struggling to get sufficient water, but nonetheless move heaven and earth to get more water to the refuge. This most notably includes the Tule Lake Irrigation District and Klamath Water Users Association.

We also rely heavily on information and voluntary efforts by local hunters in the Klamath Basin, most notably the Cal-Ore Wetlands and Waterfowl Council. Volunteers within Cal-Ore have done much to help improve habitat and hunting conditions on the refuge and pick up birds sickened or killed by avian botulism, among other important actions.

We are also grateful to all who have donated to our effort to save Lower Klamath, with contributions ranging from $25 to $25,000.
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