“The abundance and diversity of waterfowl and other migratory birds make the Klamath Basin one of the nation’s most significant wetland wildlife areas. The region’s spectacular National Wildlife Refuges, including Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge and Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge, support 80 percent of Pacific Flyway waterfowl but regularly suffer water shortages harmful to waterfowl populations, wildlife habitat, and water quality. This spring’s devastatingavian cholera outbreak in the Klamath — sparked by a lack of water — has highlighted the grave situation not only facing these refuges but also the Klamath’s salmon, fishermen and farmers. Put simply, there has been too much of this region’s scarce water promised to too many interests.
“Meanwhile, supporters of the controversial Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement and associated federal legislation — now stalled in Congress — have made numerous claims regarding the deal’s supposed water-supply benefits for the Klamath’s prized refuges. However, a reading of the agreement shows such claims have no basis. In fact, the settlement would institute unsustainable water policies favoring farming at the expense of Klamath refuges, fish and wildlife, all while placing a $1 billion burden on the American taxpayer.
“The deal also forecloses on one of the best, lowest-cost opportunities for increasing refuge water supply and achieving a sustainable water balance in the Klamath. To protect a sweetheart deal for a small group of irrigators, the settlement attempts to perpetuate commercial leaseland farming on 22,000 acres of Tule Lake and Lower Klamath refuges and asks taxpayers to subsidize this harmful practice. In contrast, phasing out this federally managed program, using those lands to store winter water, and using the 1905 priority date water rights associated with those lands for fish and wildlife purposes would represent a huge step toward a sustainable Klamath Basin — at a fraction of the cost of the settlement deal.”
Read More: oregonlive