The Impact of Lawsuits on Wildlife & The Environment
Water management decisions threaten the future health and well-being of the Pacific Flyway
Some of the most important environmental assets of the Klamath Basin – its waterfowl – are also the most costly victims of the current water management decisions.
Klamath Project farming provides food and habitat for abundant waterfowl, deer, antelope, frogs, turtles, shore birds and hundreds of other species. The region is located along the Pacific Flyway, a major thoroughfare for migratory birds in America, extending from Alaska to South America. Every year, migratory birds travel some or all of this distance both in spring and in fall, following food sources, heading to breeding grounds, or travelling to overwintering sites. The Klamath Basin is an area where millions of migratory snow geese stage each year, among many other examples. An abrupt, mid-season shutoff of water for agriculture would eliminate these public values. In addition, a shutoff would leave the Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge and the Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge without water for wetlands and waterfowl habitat.
Eliminating wildlife-friendly agriculture from the Klamath Basin – regardless of the quantity of water it may free up for refuge use – would gut Pacific Flyway waterfowl resource by eliminating roughly half of the food base annually available to these birds.
Similar to California’s Sacramento Valley where rice production provides vitally important surrogate habitat and food for waterfowl, cereal grains and other wildlife-friendly agriculture in the Basin are critical to meeting the needs of Pacific Flyway waterfowl.
Shutting down the Klamath project severely impacts water deliveries to the Klamath Refuge Complex, as well as to the important waterfowl food resources provided by local agriculture.
The serious stress placed on birds by the lack of habitat, coupled with the anticipated die-offs due to disease, may mark the beginning of the end for our Pacific Flyway waterfowl resource. To make matters worse, as waterfowl are forced to crowd onto what little wetland habitat that may remain, there will likely be significant die-offs due to the increased risk of avian botulism and cholera. If Lower Klamath and Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuges do not receive water, the fall migrating waterfowl will by-pass the Basin instead of staging here and continue down the flyway. Several years without water and the birds will shift their migratory patterns and utilize other areas with better habitat. This will be a dramatic hit to the local community that has deep waterfowling traditions and an economy that relies on out-of-area hunters during the fall-winter months.
Waterfowl hunting provides a financial and emotional commitment to the conservation, and enhancement of wetlands throughout North America. These habitats directly or indirectly support hundreds of wildlife species, as well as more than one-half of our currently listed species.
Cooperative and Collaborative habitat restoration efforts would be fatally impacted.