The U.S. Department of Interior announced plans this month to make funding available for the purchase of water rights to support the Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge.

This funding - if ultimately approved by Congress - could not come at a more critical time for the refuge. Earlier this summer, the Klamath Basin experienced an avian botulism outbreak that killed an estimated 61,000 waterfowl and shorebirds. The outbreak was made much worse by reduced water deliveries that overly concentrated birds onto limited wetland habitat.

Securing water rights for the refuge is one of the top goals of California Waterfowl and its Lower Klamath Refuge Task Force. High-priority water rights would provide the most reliable, cost-effective way to flood the refuge consistently, and throughout all the times of year when it needs water.

California Waterfowl has been working with landowners in the Klamath Basin who want to leave a legacy of supporting waterfowl and the Lower Klamath refuge.

Interior included Lower Klamath water rights on a list of projects to receive money from the Land and Water Conservation Fund, made available through the recently signed Great American Outdoors Act. CWA is grateful for the support of Interior Secretary David Bernhardt and the efforts of Congressman Doug LaMalfa, which helped make this possible.