Presented by the Sierra Club Redwood Chapter Newsletter, The REDWOOD NEEDLES
By Mari Margil, Oregon Chapter Conservation Coordinator
When early explorers first entered the Klamath Basin, they discovered large lakes, miles of freshwater marshes, and thousands and thousands of acres of wetlands. Migrating waterfowl and bald eagles darkened the skies overhead. Salmon and other wildlife were abundant.
Since the Bureau of Reclamation began working in the Basin nearly a century ago, over 75% of wetlands have been filled and significant habitat destroyed. Despite all that has been lost, the Klamath Basin remains the largest interior freshwater wetlands system west of the Mississippi River and can still be called the "Everglades of the West" - an oasis in the midst of the high desert.
So much of the discussion around the Basin these past few months has focused on a lack of water. Limited water resources in the Klamath Basin are nothing new. The National Wildlife Refuges in the Basin - a critical resting and feeding ground for migratory birds and waterfowl - remain last in line for water, and year after year the water quantity and quality provided have been far from sufficient.
A century of over-appropriation of water, destruction of wetlands which store water, damming and diking of rivers, and other habitat loss have brought us to where we are today - in need of a long-term solution. The Sierra Club's Oregon Chapter has worked for many years in the Klamath Basin, focusing on eliminating commercial agriculture and toxic pesticide use from the Basin's National Wildlife Refuges. Eliminating commercial agriculture from the refuges and restoring these lands to productive, healthy wetlands habitat are key components to any long-term solution for the Basin. The Sierra Club has designated the Basin's refuges as one of 33 special places to be protected as part of our campaign commemorating the bicentennial anniversary of the journey of Lewis and Clark. To learn more, contact Mari Margil at 503-232-1723 or email@example.com .
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein will play key roles in crafting a long-term solution and they need to hear from you. Let them know that you want to see this extraordinary ecosystem restored. We must develop a long-term solution that meets the needs of endangered species, wildlife, fishing communities, tribes, and farmers.
Let Senators Boxer and Feinstein know that you support a long-term solution which includes buying out of farmers who wish to sell their land and providing them with transition payments, restoring wetlands habitat, and recovery of endangered species. Write to them about your concerns that any long-term solution for the Klamath Basin must address:
- Restoration of the Basin's National Wildlife Refuges
- The over-appropriation of limited water resources
- Recovery of endangered and threatened species
- Support for farmers
- The legitimate water needs of fish, fishing communities, and tribes
You can write to them at the following: Senator Barbara Boxer, 112 Hart Senate Office Building, Washington, DC, 20510 or firstname.lastname@example.org; and Senator Dianne Feinstein, 331 Hart Senate Office Building, Washington, DC, 20510 or email@example.com.