Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuges
There are six National Wildlife Refuges managed by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service in the Klamath Basin. Three are located in Oregon and three in California. These include the following:
Lower Klamath Refuge, California - established in 1908, consists of 46,900 acres of freshwater marsh, open water, grassy uplands and croplands.
Tule Lake Refuge, California - established in 1928, consists of 39,116 acres of mostly open water and croplands.
Clear Lake Refuge, California - established in 1911, consists of 46,460 acres of open water surrounded by upland habitat.
Upper Klamath Refuge, Oregon - established in 1928, consists of 15,000 acres of mostly freshwater marsh and open water.
Klamath Marsh Refuge, Oregon - established in 1958, consists of 16,400 acres of natural fresh water marsh.
Bear Valley Refuge, Oregon - established in 1978, consists of 4,200 acres of old growth confier forest.
Historically, the Klamath Basin had about 185,000 acres of wetlands. The six refuges in the region have a total area of 172,276 acres, not all of which are wetlands. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimates that today's wetlands are about one quarter of what they were before the area was opened to agriculture. (See Klamath Reclamation Project.) Historically, the region supported peak populations of over six million waterfowl. Today, it is estimated that the peak concentrations of waterfowl are just over the one million mark. The experts have counted 493 different species of wildlife in the refuges at one time or another during the annual migratory cycle. The refuges serve as an important stop over for migrating birds. They rest, feed, and then move on to their next destination. Some stay to give birth to their young. Needless to say, the area is a birdlovers paradise. Several of the refuges have automobile trails through them that facilitate bird watching. There are also photographic blinds in some locations. Canoes are available in a few places. Hunting and fishing in season is permited in a few areas. Up-to-date information can be obtained from the Refuge Headquarters on Hill Road just outside of Tulelake, California. The headquarters also has a small museum and an excellent bookstore. Needless to say, the staff is extremly well informed and will be happy to tell you about which birds are where on the day of your visit. The headquarters is a highly recommended stop early in your visit. (Sometimes there is an owl in the cliff behind the headquarters building.)
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